Exporting American Architecture, 1870-2000

Exporting American Architecture, 1870-2000

Exporting American Architecture, 1870-2000

Exporting American Architecture, 1870-2000

Synopsis

This study examines how North American architecture had been 'transplanted' elsewhere during the 20th century. It explains how, why and where American architects, contractors, developers and planners have marketed American architecture overseas.

Excerpt

Although I did not know it then, this book began in Shiraz, Iran in Fall 1978 when my companion (and later wife) Mary and I - both Americans - were teaching English to finance our 3-year odyssey through Europe and Asia. Mary had been hired to tutor a dentist's wife who lived next to the American Consulate. Having left the U.S. in 1976 as wandering backpackers, we were stunned 2 years later to find ourselves surrounded by American-style, split-level houses - towering above opaque walls - in a patrician neighborhood on the outskirts of a historic city. The suburb was on its way to becoming a gated community. Ribbons of sidewalks snaked between houses and streets. The exteriors of the lavish residences were decorated with Western architectural details. The houses were separated by green lawns that were nourished with precious water from the southern Iranian desert.

When the dentist's wife greeted us at the front door, she proudly gave us a tour of the house. We were surprised by the American-ness of the house's interior, an emotion further fuelled by what we witnessed in the kitchen. There, seated on the floor next to a gigantic American refrigerator that dispensed ice cubes from its door were two women in shawls (i.e., in chador) bent over and plucking feathers from several dead chickens. They were lost in conversation and oblivious to our presence as they cut up the birds' bloody flesh in the centre of the floor. The contrast between the suburban American nature of the kitchen and the activities of the old women, which might have just as easily taken place in the dirt outside a tent, could not have been starker. Six months later, when Mary and I fled Iran after revolutionary zealots torched the school where we taught, the image of those women - and the dentist's wife - remained vivid in our memories of Shiraz, as the city experienced the Islamic Revolution. Swept in the vortex of the Iranian Revolution, we were witnesses to a critical political shift that would reach into the early twenty-first century. However, it was only much later that I realized that I had also witnessed a

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