American Architecture: Sample

logo_verticaltext Sampled below is the Preface from  American Architecture: A History, Second Edition by Leland M. Roth and Amanda C. Roth Clark.


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This text is copyright © 2016 by Leland M. Roth and Amanda C. Roth Clark

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Table of Contents
List of Illustrations


Color Plates

1. The First American Architecture: Ceremonial Enclosures and Homes

A Vast and Varied Continent

The Geological Features

The Bioclimatic Zones

The First Americans

Archaic and Prehistoric Eastern Woodland Cultures, 10 Archaic and Prehistoric Plains Culture

Archaic and Prehistoric Western Desert Cultures

The Historical or Postcontact Cultures

Eastern Woodland Region

Southeast Woodland Region

Great Plains Region

Columbia River Plateau

Pacific Coast Region

California Region

Desert Southwest Region

Reinvigorated Architecture for a New Millennium Notes

2. Europeans in the New World, 1600–1700: Transplanted Vernaculars

Spanish Settlements French Settlements Swedish Settlement Dutch Settlements English Settlements

New England

The Mid-Atlantic English Colonies

The Southern English Colonies

Town Planning in the Seventeenth Century Notes

3. In the Latest Fashion, 1690–1785: Georgian Architecture and Vernacular Traditions

Georgian Colonial Town Planning Early Georgian Architecture, 1690–1750

Southern Tidewater Colonies

Middle Colonies

Northern Colonies

Early Georgian Churches and Public Buildings

Late Georgian Architecture, 1750–1785

Northern Colonies

Middle Colonies

Furniture and Interior Design

Southern Colonies

Late Georgian Churches and Public Buildings

Gentlemen-Amateurs and Builder-Designers

Peter Harrison

Vernacular Traditions


4. A New Architecture for a New Nation, 1785–1820: Searching for Symbols of Democracy

Eclecticism Planning the National Capitol,  119 Samuel McIntire Charles Bulfinch Asher Benjamin,  128 Benjamin Henry Latrobe Other Influences and Émigré Architects Thomas Jefferson American Urban Growth Trans-Appalachian Development and Vernacular Architecture Notes

5. Appropriation and Innovation, 1820–1865: Images of the Past, Visions of the Future

The Greek Revival

Greek Revival Temple Houses

Greek Revival Vernacular

State Capitols

The United States Capitol Expanded

Grecian Public Buildings

The Gothic Revival

Gothic Revival Houses

A Miscellany of Historic Styles


Early Medieval



The Italian Villa and the Italianate Style

Commercial and Industrial Building

The Impact of Industry and the Exploitation of Cast Iron

The Octagon Style

Urban Growth

Urban Open Space: The Parks Movement

The Appearance of the Suburb

Vernacular Building

In Search of an American Architecture Notes

6. Architecture in the Age of Energy and Enterprise, 1865–1885: Parvenu Taste in an Expanding Economy

Architectural Education Creative Eclecticism Second Empire Baroque High Victorian Gothic Frank Furness Richard Morris Hunt Industrial Buildings and Housing

Pullman, Illinois

Model Urban Tenements Frederick Law Olmsted and the Public Parks Movement American Urban Growth, 1865–1885 The Emergence of American Architectural Publishing The Centennial Exposition, 1876 Suburban and Country Residences

The Eastlake Style

The Stick Style

The Queen Anne Style

The Shingle Style

Transportation and the Impact of Technology

The High-Rise Office Building

Henry Hobson Richardson Notes

7.   The Architecture of the American City and Suburb, 1885–1915: The Search for Order

Women and the American Architectural Profession The Impact of the École des Beaux-Arts Commercial Architecture: The Invention of the Office Skyscraper

William Le Baron Jenney

Burnham and Root

Adler and Sullivan

Holabird and Roche

Influence of Chicago Architects: The Chicago School

The New York Skyscraper

Classicism and the Search for Order

Richard Morris Hunt

McKim, Mead & White

American Parallels to Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts Movement, Frank Lloyd Wright

The Prairie School

The San Francisco Bay Area Tradition

Greene & Greene

Irving Gill

Urban Planning

The World’s Columbian Exposition

 The City Beautiful Movement

Housing Reform

Urban Tenements

Industrial Workers’ Communities

Vernacular Architecture

Barns and Farmhouses


8. Nostalgia and the Avant-Garde, 1915–1940: Architecture for a New Century

The First World War and Industrial Housing The Suburb and the Automobile

Early Automobile Suburbs

The Architecture of Reassurance: Historicism in the Jazz Age

Suburban Houses

The “Period House”

The Colonial Revival and the Creation of “Colonial Williamsburg”

Ralph Adams Cram and the Gothic Revival

Movie Palaces: The Architecture of Illusion American Modernism

Bertram Goodhue

Albert Kahn

Paul Philippe Cret

Skyscrapers, 1915–1940

The “Traditional” Skyscraper

The Modern Skyscraper

Art Deco and Moderne

The Art Deco Skyscraper

Rockefeller Center

Frank Lloyd Wright, the Middle Years Rudolph Schindler and Richard Neutra Urban Planning and Housing The Great Depression Notes

9. The Emergence of American Modernism, 1940–1973: Social Agenda or the Latest Aesthetic?

Housing War Workers Modernism

The Corporate Office Tower

Equitable Building, Portland, Oregon

Lever House, New York City

Lake Shore Drive Apartments, Chicago

Seagram Building

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

The Initial Giant Office Towers

Other Kinds of Forms: The Domes of Buckminster Fuller

The Modern House

Two Horizontal Glass Boxes

Form Follows Form

Guggenheim Museum

Eero Saarinen

Silence and Light: The Architecture of Louis I. Kahn

Heroic Expressionism

Alvar Aalto in America Urbanism: Cities and Suburbs

American Automobile Culture



Shopping Centers

Urban Renewal

Soulless Social Amelioration: The Saga of Public Housing

Urban Renewal at Work: Lincoln Center, New York City

Urban Renewal at Work: Plazas

Internal Public Spaces

Repopulating the City Centers

New Towns

Preservation: The Uses of the Past Notes

10. Late Modernism and Alternatives, 1972–2001

Rethinking Modernism and Its Shortcomings

The Failures of Modernism

Historic Preservation Contextualism The Beginnings of Postmodernism

Robert Venturi and Charles Moore

Whites and Grays

Postmodern Classicism

Ironic Classicism

Latent Classicism

Fundamentalist Classicism

Canonic or Archaeological Classicism

Modern Traditionalism

Late Expressionist/Heroic Modernism

Johnson & Burgee

Helmut Jahn

César Pelli

Richard Meier

Frank Gehry and Late Expressionism

Early Years

Guggenheim Bilbao

Gehry and New Museums

Deconstructivism Regionalism The Cult of the High-Profile Architect The 1980s and 1990s: A Public Architecture of Self-Absorption

Urban and Subarban Housing

The New Urbanism Begins

Making Communities Green Architecture: The First Shoots Notes

11. Looking at the Future: Into the Twenty-First Century

Slender Towers The Age of Computer Architecture Starchitects/Global Architects Architectural Activity in the Twenty-First Century The Long Life of Traditionalism Green Architecture

Leed Standards

Green Roofs

Green Architecture and Sustainable Environments

Epilogue Notes   Suggested Readings Glossary Index


Architecture, in large part, is shaped in its appearance and its construction by the place in which it is built. Yet even in ancient times in the Old World, building materials from distant locations could be used in construction.[1] Furthermore, in the modern industrial era, the availability of inexpensive and seemingly inexhaustible energy often persuaded architects and their  clients  to defy natural constraints. In contrast, for indigenous Americans, in addition to cultural determinants  deriving  from  their  creation  stories  and religious life, the availability of local materials fundamentally determined  how  they  built  their dwellings and their ceremonial shelters from time immemorial.

When European explorers first set foot on the North American continent and built their own shelters, fortifications, and places of worship— even though they attempted  to  build  in  terms of what they remembered from their various homelands—they had to make do with local raw materials and the limitations of mostly unskilled labor, thus subtly altering the models the European settlers held in their memory. The colonists’ buildings gradually became recognizably different from the prototypes from home they tried to emulate, and a new American architecture was the result. Once the new independent nation was created, the impulse to establish an architecturally independent identity became an important stimulus.

Origins of the First Edition of American Architecture: A History

My original Concise History of American Architecture was created during the latter 1970s at the request of Brenda Gilchrist, an editor at Praeger Publishers. She sought essays intended as component chapters in a comprehensive text on the American arts, encompassing painting, sculpture, decorative arts, and photography. When she approached Vincent Scully, he instead most kindly suggested she contact me. When Praeger ceased to exist, Cass Canfield Jr., at Harper & Row, eagerly undertook to publish my expanded section on American architecture as a separate volume. The resulting Concise History originally appeared in 1979, and about eight years later, Canfield suggested I revise and update the book. But other projects intervened, not least of which was my completing Understanding Architecture, published by HarperCollins in 1993 (the third edition recently published by Westview Press, 2014). What was begun in 1987 as a slightly amended and enriched new edition of Concise History gradually grew to become a completely new book, almost double the original length and with twice as many illustrations and plans. Reflecting this new scope under a new title, the first edition of American Architecture: A History (2001) was lovingly and carefully shepherded through the production process and would be my last project done directly with Cass Canfield.

In the original book, I suggested a parallel between building and politics, for both are based on the fine art of compromise. Every building represents a judicious balance between conflicting needs and aspirations on the part of client, architect, and builder. In the United States, there has been, from the first arrival of European settlers and builders, a divergent tension between satisfying pressing physical needs and expressing transcendent cultural aspirations, between the impulse to build pragmatically and efficiently, on the one hand, and the longing to physically encapsulate a conceptual ideal, on the other. The essence of this idea was expressed in 1911 by American philosopher George Santayana in an address given at the University of California:

America . . . is a country with two mentalities [he observed], one a survival of the beliefs and standards of the fathers, the other an expression of the instincts, practice, and discoveries of the younger generations. . . . [O]ne-half of the American mind, that not occupied intensely in practical affairs, has remained, I will not say high-and-dry, but slightly becalmed; it has floated gently in the back water, while, alongside, in  invention and industry and social organization the other half of the mind was leaping down a sort of Niagara Rapids. This division may be found symbolized in American architecture: a neat reproduction of the colonial mansion—with some modern comforts introduced surreptitiously—stands beside the skyscraper. The American Will inhabits the skyscraper; the American Intellect inhabits the colonial mansion. . . . The one is all aggressive enterprise; the other is all genteel tradition.[2] This account of American architecture shows the struggle to find this precarious balance between the real and the ideal. The settlers came to the New World in the beginning driven by idealism, to find a measure of social or economic perfection, and yet they soon discovered they had to shelter themselves in the most rudimentary manner—and the conflict between the ideal and the real has continued from that time to the present.

New in This Edition

Written to introduce the student and the interested observer to the major developments that have shaped the American built environment, from well before the arrival of Europeans and continuing into the twenty-first century, this new edition covers both the high-style architecture of aspiration as well as aspects of everyday vernacular building. Later chapters sketch the impact of interrelated changes in conceptual imagery, style, building technology, landscape design, and town planning theory.

The first chapter focuses on the physical landscapes of what became the United States and the wide range of architectural solutions devised by Native Americans across the continent and closes by looking at aspects of contemporary Native American architecture. In the opening chapter of the previous edition, the reader might have assumed that indigenous Americans and their architecture had simply faded away during the twentieth century, but theirs is a story of determined survival. As the twentieth century transitioned into the twenty-first, a new generation of Native Americans, politically engaged and architecturally educated, has once again been able to create their own architecture for their own people, and for others. A brief introduction to this recent story has been added to the first chapter.

In general, the rest of the text is divided into sections marked by particular coherence in building technique and expression; often these are delineated by economic or political cycles. Hence, Chapter 2 deals with the disparate European colonial settlements, and Chapter 3 pursues this further, with particular emphasis on the emergence of a pervasive British culture along the eastern seaboard. Chapter 4 focuses on the decades immediately following the Revolution. Chapter 5 explores the impact of growing historical architectural awareness and ends with the upheaval of the Civil War. Chapter 6 examines the impact of the explosive growth of American industry and technology in the decades following the Civil War. Chapter 7 considers the changes in American architecture arising from formal architectural and engineering education, up to the time of the First World War. Chapter 8 looks at the complex decades between the world wars, with its mix of dynamic historical revivals and the development of American Modernism in the challenging years of the Great Depression. Chapter 9 focuses on the consolidation of Modern American architecture in the booming American economy following World War II. In Chapter 10, the splintering of the Modern movement into its many variants is examined. The new concluding Chapter 11 is an introduction to the many new concerns in American life and architecture in the twenty-first century: historic preservation, energy conservation, sustainable design, green architecture, and the integration of all these concerns in a more inclusive architecture.

Readers of the first edition will find that the most dramatic alteration is in the adjustment of Chapter 10, the writing of which for the first edition had just been finished when the World Trade Center towers in New York were destroyed by terrorists on September 11, 2001, a significant moment for America and one that marked a change in the ethos of American architecture. The original tenth chapter is now divided into two parts, adding in the new Chapter 11 such topics as the impact of that attack on the design of subsequent skyscrapers (particularly on the replacement One World Trade Center), discussion of the emergent trends of the twenty-first century, the expanding impact of CAD design, architects working in a global arena, the increasing attention being given to sustainable design and planning, the emergence of green architecture, and the growing of historic preservation with adaptive reuse. These last chapters are somewhat longer and consciously more subjective in character than the earlier sections, as the proximity of events precludes absolute objectivity. Time will make more correct the relative weight of perceptions.

Endnotes were added throughout the text in this second edition to identify passages quoted and also to make cross-references to this book’s companion volume, my America Builds: Source Documents in American Architecture and Planning (1983). In addition, because of the surge in publication on American architecture since the mid-1970s, the bibliographical references were greatly expanded and clustered in chapter groups at the back of the book. In addition to these more conventional sources, readers are encouraged to use the many digital and online resources now available.

The distinctive nature of American architecture is a running theme of this book, but there is a shift in the final chapter on the opening of the twenty-first century to reflect the contemporaneous globalization of many cultural strands and business activities. The question arises as to whether there is any longer a distinctly and identifiably “American” architecture in the global community. My teaching of courses in Native American architecture and seventeenth- and eighteenth-century colonial American architecture since Concise History originally appeared encouraged me to expand that material into three separate chapters. Other new additions to the text in this edition, beyond minor adjustments and corrections throughout, now include added discussions of women architects, designers, and critics; an elaboration of the nineteenth-century vernacular expressions of the Greek Revival; expansion on the education and training of American architects, particularly the impact of study at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and then the influence of the Bauhaus in Germany and its transplanted teachers.

Another significant change in this second edition of American Architecture is the addition of a new coauthor, my daughter Amanda C. Roth Clark, whose graduate studies in Neoclassical architecture, architectural design training, exposure to CAD, and continued activities in preservation and leadership in the regional chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians bring a fresh voice and an ongoing passion for the physical environment to this most recent edition.

A book on the history of design—such as on the history of architecture—becomes itself an object of design. From the moment of its inception, the author envisions how the buildings are to be presented as design objects, and this vision determines what particular photographs are selected, from what angle the building is to be seen, whether to show it as it was in its original setting or as it is at the present. Many positive improvements—including a broad expansion of the art program—have been made to this revised edition. This highly illustrated history is a visual teaching tool with images that “speak” about architecture to the reader. Floor plans, photographs, and other visual aids are essential when discussing the built environment, as it is an area of the arts that must be seen to be understood.[3] To this end, the number of illustrations has been expanded from 612 in the first edition to more than 700 here, with 640 black-and-white images and 62 new color plates. This has allowed the authors to further highlight design examples. The addition of the 32-page full-color section allowed us to highlight specific buildings to draw attention to the use of color as an essential component of design. These color examples help reveal subtleties in how architecture achieves visual success. For example, the reader might wish to compare the black-and-white illustration of Furness’s Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in the first edition to the color image here, showing the dramatic contrast of materials in their intended colors. This edition also includes original plan drawings, a unique asset as a tool for learning and one that readers of the first edition found particularly useful in teaching their own courses.

In the mid-1970s, when Concise History was originally written, architects often directly provided photographs of their buildings, photographs they had specially commissioned and which they thought most appropriately represented their work, requesting only that the buildings be properly identified and the photographers credited— for a variety of reasons, sadly, this is no longer how it is done today. One great exception is professional photographer Carol M. Highsmith, who has placed her photographic collections in the Library of Congress, unrestricted as to use. The Library of Congress is to be applauded in its opening of valuable collections, making those digital materials accessible to the American public. The images of another esteemed architectural photographer, Balthazar Korab—the preferred photographer of Eero Saarinen—have similarly been deposited in the Library of Congress


There are many people to thank for their assistance in making this new book possible, most especially Sue C. Howard, freelance photo researcher for Westview Press, and Krista Anderson, assistant managing editor, Westview Press, both of whom were creative, industrious, and indefatigable in locating replacement images. They guided us through the growing labyrinth in search of permissible images. Gratitude also is extended to the anonymous readers and to Cathleen Tetro, Perseus Books, and Kelli Fillingim, former acquisitions editor at Westview Press, who were invaluable at the beginning of the revision process. Thanks as well to Grace Fujimoto, acquisitions director, who offered developmental suggestions, as well as production editor Cisca Schreefel and copy editor Kate Mueller. A special thanks is due to Anna Simpkins, who was involved in a careful word-for- word reading of the text of the first edition, catching many typos and offering suggestions. To my original and longtime editor at HarperCollins/Westview Press, Cass Canfield Jr., I owe an unrepayable debt, as much for his unflagging enthusiasm and support as for his unending patience while the original books slowly emerged through the 1980s and 1990s. His encouragement for more than forty years was to shape the arc of my professional life, and this edition honors him. To the many students in my classes exploring American architecture over the past forty-plus years, I owe another great debt, for they helped me see through new eyes what perplexes, captivates, and inspires those learning to see and understand the built environment around them. My friends and professional colleagues at the University of Oregon and around the country, as well as fellow members of the Society of Architecture Historians and the Vernacular Architecture Forum, all answered innumerable questions, offered countless suggestions, and taught me much.

I most gratefully thank my family, who sometimes were deprived of time together at home, but who, I think, have often enjoyed the many trips to inspect sites and buildings, here and there, far and wide. In particular, I thank our daughter, Amanda. Concise History, in 1979, was dedicated to her, then a bright-eyed inquisitive child looking toward a bright future. Now an adult, still bright-eyed and always inquisitive, she has earned professional degrees in art and architectural history and in the library sciences; she now serves as director of the library at Whitworth University, Spokane, Washington. She is an invaluable sounding board for testing ideas and written expressions and, in this new century, has become my coauthor. And ever, to Carol, my wife—my muse now for more than half a century—I offer my unbounded thanks, for she has endured countless trips with enthusiasm and grace, tolerated my long evening hours in the study, and eagerly worked at my side, undertaking meticulous and engaged copy editing. Her unending support has been indispensable, and this book is hers. Leland M. Roth Eugene, Oregon  


[1] Only in the twentieth century did theoretical design criteria come to determine the form of buildings and how they were Among many treatments of this phenomenon, see Roth and Clark, Understanding Architecture, 3rd ed. (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2014), especially chapter 19.

[2] George Santayana’s address at the University of California, 1911, “The Genteel Tradition,” is reprinted in Douglas Wilson, ed., The Genteel Tradition: Nine Essays by George Santayana (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1967), 39–40; the essay is discussed in John Tomsich, A Genteel Endeavor: American Culture and Politics in the Gilded Age (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1971). This intriguing concept of the dualism in American thought and American arts I used as the point of departure for a chapter outlining the character of American architecture, “A New Architecture, Yet Old,” in Making America: The Society and Culture of the United States, ed. Luther S. Luedtke, Forum Series (Washington, DC: US Information Agency, 1987; reprint, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991).

[3] Most important, architecture must be experienced in three dimensions and in time, but this goes beyond the realm of any book.

9780813349688This text is excerpted from American Architecture: A History, Second Edition by Leland M. Roth and Amanda C. Roth Clark.


Copyright © 2016 by Leland M. Roth and Amanda C. Roth Clark

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