Thursday, February 26, 2009

Architecture During Wartime


Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Housing for Glenn Martin Aircraft Plant, Baltimore, Maryland (1941) (Source: Anderson, 2009).

"World War II did not arrest architects' work; it reformulated architecture's tasks." So says architecture historian Richard Anderson in his latest piece for Grey Room, "US/USSR: Architecture and War" [1]. This brief sentence could be construed as the very inspiration for the forthcoming conference at the Institute for Fine Arts called "Front to Rear: Architecture and Planning during World War II." The conference description tells us:
Considered by most historians of 20th century architecture as a void between peaceful periods of active architectural production, the Second World War remains an unwritten chapter in most textbooks. It corresponds however to an intense body of experience, which can be observed from Japan to the United States, passing through Russia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and England. WWII was a key moment in the process of modernization, and manifold issues are raised by the preparation of war, the total mobilization of territories and cities and their eventual occupation, destruction and reconstruction.
The conference brings together research investigating a wide range of architectural activities, taking place in diverse geographical locations, and occurring between the bombings of Guernica in 1937 and Hiroshima in 1945. A group of nineteen scholars will present architects’ contributions in the preparation for the war in terms of new forms of infrastructure and management; engagement in development of offensive and defensive tactics; and their assistance in the armed conflict, be it on the front lines, within occupied territories, or on the home front. A number of papers will explore connections between architectural practice and wartime technology and production. Also addressed are wartime preparation for peacetime reconstruction, commemoration and memorial architecture.
Besides remarks by Jean-Louis Cohen, Kenneth Frampton, and Joan Ockman, the various conference panes will include responses by Hartmut Frank, Antoine Picon, and Anthony Vidler.

The conference will be held at NYU's Institute for Fine Arts, 1 East 78th Street, New York on Saturday, March 7 from 10 to 7, and on March 8 from 10 to 6.

Admission is free. More information about the conference can be found here.

[1] Richard Anderson, "USA/USSR: Architecture and War", Grey Room Vol. 34 (Winter 2009), p. 81

1 comment:

Markasaurus said...

Also on this subject, you should check out Andrew Shanken's new book "194x" about unbuilt architecture designed in America during WWII. A lot of the book is about the ties forged between architects and industry during this time period.

http://www.upress.umn.edu/Books/S/shanken_194X.html