The Emergence of Modern Architecture: A Documentary History from 1000 to 1810

The Emergence of Modern Architecture: A Documentary History from 1000 to 1810

The Emergence of Modern Architecture: A Documentary History from 1000 to 1810

The Emergence of Modern Architecture: A Documentary History from 1000 to 1810


This documentary history records a cognitive history of the emergence of modern architecture. Cutting across our contemporary disciplinarian and institutional divisions, it reconstructs developments within the framework of a cognitive history of the past.


The idea of investigating the birth and evolution of modern design thinking out of the archaic began as a Freshman Seminar given by Alexander Tzonis at Harvard College in 1968. Within the freedom and inspiration of this uniquely privileged time and place, conceiving it as a multidisciplinary research, cutting across architectural history, design methodology, anthropology and economics came naturally. Soon the subject also became a course at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University.

It was great luck that the opportunity to give lectures on this topic as a visitor in the Université de Montreal arose. It permitted Alexander Tzonis to come into contact with French culture and with similar studies carried out by scholars in France. It was during these lectures that Tzonis met with Liane Lefaivre, which marked the beginning of a long collaboration on this subject as well as on other topics in the theory and history of architecture. An invitation to teach in France followed by an award of a major research grant made it possible to deepen the studies in French architectural history, to continue collab-orating with French specialists and to bring a number of American researchers into the project. For the last thirty years, many publications have followed from this initial inquiry in the form of articles and books, including a documentary history published in Dutch in 1984 and, second edition 1990, the predecessor of the present book. The research still continues today, not because very few findings were produced but, on the contrary, because each answer mined out of the material yielded even more questions.

If it had not been for the enthusiastic support of students, this work would have stopped by the end of the 1960s. They helped discover not only new answers but also new questions. Some of these students are now prominent academics, some moved onto other endeavours. Here follows a partial list. Margaret Ray spent a semester and a summer at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris doing research while an undergraduate at Harvard College. Brigit Williams spent a semester while a student at Harvard College. Other students from Harvard and the Université de Montréal who helped with the research were: Thor Anderson, Daniel Bluestone, Robert Berwick, Denis Bilodeau, Philippe Bourgois, Elinor Charlton, Claude Cohen, Susan Henderson, Kim Ik Jae, Réjean Legault, Naomi Lev, Molly Moran, Sergio Modigliani, Nancy Murdock, Edward Paul, José Salgado, Eve Siu and Jean-Marie Therrien.

We would like also to thank those colleagues who helped us with crucial exchanges at critical moments: James Ackerman, Eugenio Battisti, Anthony Blunt, Antonio Bonnet

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