Thesis ID: CBB381219074

Ordering Modernity: The American Architectural Profession between Fact and Law, 1786-1884 (2023)


Martin, Reinhold (Advisor)
Carver, Erik Brent (Author)

Martin, Reinhold
Columbia University
Publication date: 2023
Language: English

Publication Date: 2023
Physical Details: 326

The nineteenth-century American building world assembled an unprecedented armature of professional knowledge. This dissertation reconstructs that armature by sampling from the profusion of technical and institutional documents that helped architects, engineers, and builders reckon with the enigmatic abstractions of liberal and industrial capitalism— along with the regimes of labor, infrastructure, and resource management they introduced. Typically ignored by architectural historians, these documents form a valuable archive of cultural texts and evidential indices. As a system of knowledge, they tether design to a series of political-economic conflicts. Revolutionary Philadelphia carpenters and reactionary Anglican specifiers alike found in printed numbers sources of authority and claims on temporal power. Postbellum architect-engineers like John C. Trautwine and Frank Kidder used pocketbooks to transfuse the logics of locomotives and lumber mills into the core of architectural practice. Through a professional sleight of hand, institution-builders like Richard Upjohn and Richard Morris Hunt distanced themselves from the appearance of calculation while depending upon it ever more, encrypting it in drawings, institutional scripts, and legal precedent. In their work with architect H.H. Richardson, general contractors James and Orlando W. Norcross most fully realized the potentials of this system, synthesizing technical literature, industrial capital, and a proprietary mythos of materials to achieve the apotheosis of American architecture. I plumb this obscure world of literate builders and architect-engineers to map such architecture as an expanded field of infrastructural practice, arguing that industrial modernity was perhaps best glimpsed not in an iron frame but in a carefully-sourced palette of quarry-faced sandstone.

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Authors & Contributors
Bennett, Robert
Bergeron, Andrée
Bigg, Charlotte
Bud, Robert
Carroll, Katherine L.
Nieto-Galan, Agustí
The Bridge: Journal of the National Academy of Engineering
Bulletin of the History of Medicine
History of Science
International Journal for the History of Engineering and Technology
Journal of Military History
Firenze University Press
Boston University
Professions and professionalization
Science and politics
Exhibitions and fairs
Betancourt y Molina, Agustín de
L'Enfant, Pierre Charles
Menabrea, Luigi Federico
Fuller, Richard Buckminster
Geddes, Norman Bel (1893-1958)
Ferriss, Hugh (1889-1962)
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
18th century
20th century
21st century
Qing dynasty (China, 1644-1912)
United States
Great Britain
Tuscany (Italy)
Crédit Foncier d'Extrême-Orient (Brüssel)

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