2014 Buell Center Fellowship

2014 Buell Center Fellowship


The Buell Center Fellowship, an annual award for historical research on the built environment within or between the fields of architecture, urban history, and landscape, was developed by The Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture in coordination with Columbia University’s Center for Oral History and the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library.  


Up to three awards, between $3,000 and $5,000, are given annually for the purposes of carrying out primary research in conjunction with a scholarly research project at the advanced graduate level. Interdisciplinary or comparative work on the Americas is especially encouraged, and special consideration is given for projects that include an oral history component. Applicants must be full-time Columbia University students at the time of the award's distribution.

Recipients: David Isaac Hecht, Hollyamber Kennedy
David Isaac Hecht, MArch '14, ARPA '15
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, architecture and urbanism developed a deep engagement with a number of “outside” fields concerned with computation, information, cognition, and behavior. Following this intensely multidisciplinary “techno-social moment”, architectural discourse and pedagogy shifted toward a variety of positions that, explicitly or implicitly, resisted the adoption and application of systems thinking. In particular, the merging of computational techniques with social, behavioral, and cognitive factors was disparaged as a resurgent, revisionist modernism, guilty of “ethical positivism”. By the mid-1980s, computation was plowing ahead, absent the baggage of social science, aimed straight at the heart of the architectural field, poised to change it forever. The relationship between users and their physical and informational environments thus received steadily diminishing attention in the published academic discourse.
The present work—which is meant to serve as a supplement to an applied research project on the relationship of architecture, science (especially cognitive), and spaces for cooperative creative practice—will operate through interviews and textual study of four practitioners and academics: Robert Sommer (environmental psychologist, UC Davis), William Porter (former Dean, MIT SA+P), Charles Eastman (Director, Digital Building Laboratory, Georgia Tech), and Peter Rowe (former Dean, Harvard GSD). Their recollections of their research and pedagogical engagements with psychology and computation will produce an oral history exploring the context of the multidisciplinary efforts conducted at key academic institutions. as well as the subsequent developments across the field that moved these studies into more constrained, or completely distinct, practices. Further, the particular contributions of each of these actors will be examined to provide context for the current reemergence of multidisciplinary investigations incorporating work from the behavioral sciences. The research will include practical discussion about the practice of relating users (and designers) to environments, including through participatory practices.

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1. The Architecture Machine Group at MIT, circa 1969-1970

2. Charles Eastman. “Adaptive-Conditional Architecture”, in Design Research Society. Design Participation: Proceedings of the Design Research Society’s Conference. Edited by Nigel Cross. London: Academy Editions. (1971)


Hollyamber Kennedy, PhD Candidate Architecture, GSAPP
Constructing Europa: Architectural Infrastructures of Security and the Cultural Reform Movement in Germany and Beyond, 1848-1930
In 1893, Max Weber presented a paper to his colleagues at the Verein für Sozialpolitik.  “It is not possible,” he explained, “to allow two nations with different bodily constitutions—differently constructed stomachs…—to compete freely as workers in the same area.”  The body, he claimed, was an accumulation of expressions of type-based affinities, a map of the culture, variety of labor, and type of land and property to which it belonged.  Weber’s subject in this paper was the recently formed Prussian Settlement Commission, which had formalized a terra nullius policy of internal colonization by occupation of the historically Polish territory of West Prussia, an instrument of Germanization that Weber supported.  In chapter three of my dissertation, I describe Weber’s local studies of ethnic minorities in imperial metropoles, from which he developed a political economy of cultural difference presented as a generalized theory of empire, presupposed by colonial-imperialism and revealed most directly in the phenomena of migration and internal minorities rather than in foreign conquest (Zimmerman).  A critical turning point in Weber’s thought emerged during his 1904 trip to the United States, when he presented a lecture on the problem of free labor at the Congress of Arts and Sciences at the St. Louis World’s Fair.  Following Zimmerman, I argue that Weber’s transition to a global study of the political economy of race and culture rested on the American problematic of the ‘Negro question’ posed to him during his encounters with W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington.  Important to this ‘turn’ is Du Bois’ article, “Die Negerfrage in den Vereinigten Staaten,” written at the request of Weber, and published in issue 22 of the Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik, in 1906. Their correspondence, in the Du Bois Archive, covers this exchange and others central to Weber’s anxiety over migrant labor and rural proleterianization in the Polish provinces, and several documents detailing Du Bois’ position on the German colonies in Africa.
This chapter of my dissertation, entitled “The Biometrics of Citizenship, Empire’s new ‘Double Border,’” takes up the American mediation—the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, Du Bois, a visit to Tuskgegee, and his travels through the rural south—of the shifts in Weber’s theory of race and culture, his interest in the practice of segregation, and its relationship to the cultural reform movement of prewar Germany. The Buell Center Fellowship will fund travel to four archives in the U.S. and Germany, which contain material crucial to the constellation I chart in chapter three.  This chapter will explore the relations between the settlement politics regarding internal minorities and free labor (mobile, itinerant, unfixed) discussed by Weber and the Verein für Sozialpolitik, and the environmental discourse of the Bund für Heimatschutz (Homeland Protection Coalition), founded in 1904 by Ferdinand Avenarius, and the 1907 Deutscher Werkbund, which together introduced a concept of aesthetic culture tied to a defense of an expanded national commons, drawn from Weber’s ethno-national imaginary.  This new image of a German Europa carried with it, however obliquely, the segregationist politics of the American South. 
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1. German Settlement, Dorf Streckerau an der Wolga, 1920 
2. Postcard depicting MichaƂ Drzymala and his ‘house on wheels’ protest, Grodzisk Wielpolski (Grätz), 1908