Architecture (Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity)
Architectural spaces designed for Holocaust museums and occasionally those to commemorate genocide have been instrumental in altering the design of the museum building, especially in advanced industrial societies where expense for museum space is an affordable luxury. Museums in the Western Hemisphere and Europe have changed from structures built simply to contain artifacts, art, and conceptual works to become memory forms in their own right. Because of the huge displacement of peoples in the twentieth century, which included many artists and architects who fled authoritarian regimes, the builders of museums to the crimes of genocidal regimes have felt the need to make the museum building itself a memorial space to the event.
Standing in contrast to the modern museum space, often built in a location where genocide itself did not occur, are the places of destruction themselves. The Auschwitz extermination camp, for example, became the Auschwitz State Museum. The same transition to a museum has occurred in other camps, such as Prison S-21 in Cambodia, which became the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide. The architecture of the killing sites often has a strong impact on museums built as memory spaces.
One of the best and first examples of the intersection of memory and the present was James Ingo Freed's design for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., Freed, himself a refugee from Germany, visited Auschwitz in October 1986. The powerful effect of the physical space of the camp and its industrial motif convinced him that the future United States Holocaust Memorial Museum could not be a traditional museum structure. It was this careful analysis of the Auschwitz camp that led Freed to develop plans for the Washington museum that would embody symbolic aspects of the concentration camp in the memory space. This included the well-known symbols of watchtowers, glass, and barbed wire, but also the red brick of Auschwitz I, and the use of steel and other elements. However, he did not wish these symbols to be overstated so as to create a narrative with a single conclusion.
The completed United States Holocaust Museum space has been called "a place of disorientation" (Linenthal, 1995, p. 89). Cantilevered walkways, exposed steel beams, doorways that recall the centers of annihilation at Auschwitz, all help to create a memory of the site of genocide. Within this is the space for the historical narrative. However, the exhibition space at the United States Holocaust Museum does not provide for a continuous chronological narrative of the history of the Holocaust. The story is broken up by the use of modern technologies to provide fragments of events and personal stories, plus an installation tower of photographs, sometimes called the "Tower of Life," designed by Yaffa Eliach to commemorate the memory of her hometown, Eishyshok.Daniel Libeskind's extension of the Berlin Jewish Museum, renamed the Berlin Jewish Museum addition,
From an aerial perspective Libeskind's design for the Berlin Museum appears to be a fractured Star of David. The inspiration for this came from Walter Bejamin's One Way Street, which provided a motif for the zig-zag and underground crisscrossing design that leaves the visitor disoriented. Within the space of the museum, the dominant features are the voids. These are empty spaces that literally go nowhere. Libeskind has written that in this space, "the invisible, the void, makes itself apparent as such" (1992, p. 87). In addition, the architect described the main spaces as:
There are three underground "roads" which programmatically have three separate stories. The first and longest "road", leads to the main stair, to the continuation of Berlin's history, to the exhibition spaces in the Jewish Museum. The second road leads outdoors to the E.T.A. Hoffmann Garden and represents the exile and emigration of Jews from Germany. The third axis leads to the dead endhe Holocaust Void (Libeskind, 1992).
The zinc-clad Berlin Museum with its irregular windows was completed in 1998 and opened to visitors without any displays within. More than 400,000 people came to see the empty spaces until the museum's formal opening with a permanent exhibition on Jewish life in Germany on September 9, 1991.
For many years the Imperial War Museum in London has maintained a special museum space dedicated to the liberation of the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen by British forces in April 1945. In deciding to establish a large and permanent exhibition about the Holocaust, which opened in June 2000, the curators focused on the role of the British as bystanders to genocide as well as liberators, and stressed the necessity of including original artifacts, something which the design for the United States Holocaust Museum chose to play down. Considerations about the building itself were moot, as the structure is a well-established museum that focuses on British military history. The result is perhaps a return to the essence of what a museum is supposed to beore about what is displayed and how it is displayed, than the architectural features of the structure. Like other Holocaust museums, the Imperial War Museum exhibition features the extensive testimony of Holocaust survivors, in this case, those living in England.
Other Holocaust museums exist in North America (e.g., Vancouver, Los Angeles, Houston, El Paso, Detroit, St. Petersburg, Florida, and New York) that are smaller in size and often situated in remodeled, already existing structures. In some cases the museum buildings are new and overemphasize some of the symbols of the Holocaust, such as chimneys and barbed wire. Displays in these museums are remarkably similar and justified for their pedagogical role in local communities. Few Holocaust museums have concern for art except as a document from the victims.
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a museum has opened that chronicles the history of slavery; it is called America's Black Holocaust Museum. A museum initiated by the Armenian-American community is being developed in Washington, D.C.; located in a former bank building, it will serve as an educational center, library, and museum documenting the Armenian genocide of 1915 through 1922. In Rwanda the places of destruction have become both memorials and museums, while construction of a museum dedicated to telling the story of that country's genocide began in 2002 in Kigali. In Quebec architect Moshe Safdie designed the Museum of Civilization, which is "is committed to fostering in all Canadians a sense of their common identity and their shared past. At the same time, it hopes to promote understanding between the various cultural groups that are part of Canadian society" (Museum of Civilization website). However, this museum has started to discuss the possibility of including displays on the Holocaust, Armenian genocide, Cambodia, Rwanda, and genocide in the Ukraine. During 2002 a discussion and debate commenced in Ottawa, Canada, about the construction of a Canadian Museum of Genocide.
SEE ALSO Documentation; Memorials and Monuments; Memory
Dannatt, Adrian (1995). United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. London: Phaidon.
Libeskind, Daniel (1992). Countersign. New York: Rizzoli.
Linenthal, Edward T. (1995). Preserving Memory. New York: Viking Press.
Young, James (2000). At Memory's Edge: After-Images of the Holocaust in Contemporary Art and Architecture. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.
Stephen C. Feinstein
Architecture (American History Through Literature)
In the eighteenth century the British were world masters of the architectural handbook, with innumerable volumes published in every shape and size. This stifled the development of an American literature on the subject, as everything was imported: fully twenty-eight English architectural titles of the 1780s and 1790s had arrived in the United States by 1800. The situation began to change at the turn of the nineteenth century with the appearance of Asher Benjamin's (1773845) Country Builder's Assistant (1797), the first American "pattern book," or builder's guide, in the long-standing British tradition. Such books taught carpenters and homeowners how to build a fashionable house, with text explaining the various illustrations (in plan, elevation, and details). Benjamin had been trained as a builder in Connecticut. As with his six subsequent books, illustrations in the Assistant were in the form of engraved copper plates. Published in Boston, these volumes followed (and helped shape) changing architectural fads. The first two copied the Roman orders (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian) of Sir William Chambers and the Adamesque of William Painainstays of America's Federal era, when stylish, attenuated classical forms were grafted onto the heavier, foursquare Georgian house form familiar since colonial times. The Practical House Carpenter (1830) and subsequent offerings shifted into Greek Revival, another British mania. Practical House Carpenter proved enormously popular, going through more than twenty-one reprintings between 1830 and 1857. Rural craftsmen used it avidly as American towns rapidly expanded during years of phenomenal population growth.
Building on the example of Benjamin was Minard Lafever (1798854), a New York carpenter (later a self-proclaimed "architect"), whose five books did more than anything else to spread Greek Revival nationwide. His debut volume, Young Builder's General Instructor (1829), borrowed heavily from British precedent in both text and designs. Embarrassed by its inadequacies, he withdrew it from print at considerable personal cost in favor of the improved Modern Builder's Guide (1833), his most influential work. Its Greek Revival designs were contributed in part by two architects, the British émigré James Gallier and the New Yorker James Dakin. The Greek theme was continued in the handsome Beauties of Modern Architecture (1835). Thanks in part to these portable, easy-to-use publications, Greek Revival spread as far west as California and Oregon.
The steam press fostered a publishing revolution in the 1830s, at exactly the time that new British ideas of the architectural "picturesque"ssentially Romanticism applied to the material worldaunched an aesthetic revolution in the United States. An innovative kind of publication would now appear in America: not the old "pattern book" but a "villa book." These had been popular in Britain since the 1790s but now belatedly crossed the sea. Pattern books were aimed primarily at carpenters and only offered a dry text; villa books, with a rich store of pictures and accompanying prose, evoked a bright new lifestyle, intending to establish proper "taste" among the middle class. In quasi-religious language akin to that of other contemporary reform movements, readers were told that the way they embellished their homes spoke volumes about their moral proclivities and had a potentially powerful impact on their families and communities. New York and the Hudson Valley were the crucibles of this new literature, as architects building villas up and down the river partnered with New York publishers to promote their own careers and up-to-date aesthetic visionsll couched in high-minded language about social and familial improvement through architecture.
DAVIS AND DOWNING
The first American villa book was Rural Residences (1837838) by a New York architect, Alexander Jackson Davis (1803892). Owing to an economic downturn, only two sections of a projected six were published, and few of these were sold; the book was nonetheless epochal for the development of American architecture. Instead of the copper-engraved plates of Benjamin and Lafever, here were evocative lithographs (which could be purchased hand-colored for an extra price). Lithography allowed subtleties of light and shade that suggested mood, and homes were increasingly shown surrounded by verdant landscapes. The entire approach was British; indeed the title was borrowed from J. B. Papworth's Rural Residences (1818), published in London. But thoughtful attempts were made to adapt English ideas to American conditions, most famously in the promotion of "board-and-batten" construction: vertical siding with wooden strips, or battens, sealing the joints, a method made feasible by America's abundant forests and ubiquitous sawmills.
Davis soon inspired the most important of all nineteenth-century American writers on architecture, Andrew Jackson Downing (1815852). Owner of a thriving nursery along the Hudson and editor of the journal Horticulturist, Downing was a rabid Anglophile whose house, "Highland Garden" (1838839), copied an Elizabethan design (complete with parapets, mullioned windows with label moldings, and a rose window) in an English villa book. Building it and laying out its ornamental grounds whetted his interest in landscape design. In 1841 he published his landmark Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening. As with Davis, who provided the illustrations, his sensibilities were heavily British, and he owed an incalculable debt to John C. Loudon's Encyclopedia of Cottage, Farm, and Villa Architecture (1833), published in London. For the first time an American architecture book was copiously illustrated with eighty-eight wood engravings printed integrally with the text, as this new type of printmaking allowed. Compared to the old copperplate pattern books, Downing's publications were small, compact, and affordable, meant to grace the shelves of cottages across the land. Downing quickly became famous as America's tastemaker, with Landscape Gardening selling nine thousand copies in twelve years. As his interests turned more and more to pure architecture, he followed it up with Cottage Residences (1842) and The Architecture of Country Houses (1850).
Downing brilliantly played the role of "apostle of taste." His "Highland Garden" stood as a showpiece for the picturesque, that aesthetic language borrowed from England and Romanticism. Seated at his desk beside a bay window and surrounded by busts of literary greats, he wrote earnestly to the American public in prose both eloquent and persuasive. He took high-falutin British concepts and restated them for a middle- or working-class audience, offering simple, effective examples, as in the famous illustrated contrast in the Horticulturist between "A Common Country House" (bald and unadorned) and "The Same, Improved." Downing's career was cut short by his death in a steamboat accident in 1852 as he traveled to Washington, D.C., to superintend the Smithsonian Pleasure Grounds on the Mall.
AGE OF ECLECTICISM
Downing had many eager followers and rivals as publishing expanded in the 1850s, a period that saw nearly ninety American books published on some aspect of architecture, compared to about forty in the decade before. Richard Upjohn (1802878), the English-born architect whose Trinity Church (1841846) in New York was an icon of the age, popularized its medievalizing, pointed-arch gothic style for small towns nationwide in Upjohn's Rural Architecture (1852). The Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloan's (1815884) lithographed plates in The Model Architect (1852853) and City and Suburban Architecture (1859) celebrated the tremendous proliferation of accepted styles in the design of houses. He regarded himself as an important pioneer, noting that "American works on architecture are few in number." As only about 20 percent of Sloan's vast architectural output is still standing, his writings assume great importance for architectural historians trying to reconstruct his vanished oeuvre. After the Civil War, Sloan edited the Architectural Review and American Builder's Journal (1868870), the first periodical in the country devoted entirely to architecture.
Downing's chief follower was Calvert Vaux (1824895), a young architect he brought in tow from England in 1850. They worked as partners until Downing's death. Vaux would later team up with Frederick Law Olmsted writer turned landscape designero create the immortal "Greensward" plan for New York's Central Park (1857858). In 1857 Vaux published Villas and Cottages, with thirty-nine buildings illustrated, mostly ones he had built himself for clients along the Hudson. This opened him to charges of "egotism" by the New York reviewer Clarence Cook, whose essay "House Building in America" denounced the whole villa book craze (and Vaux's offering in particular) as borrowing uncritically from the English author John Ruskin, whose ideas about reviving medieval craftsmanship as a means of making nineteenth-century architecture more authentic seemed to him impractical and overintellectualized. Real progress in architecture would come not from villa books with their gratuitous ornament, Cook said, but from careful study of old, vernacular American farmhouses, simple and sincere.
FUNCTIONALISM AND THOREAU
Cook's comments belong to an essentialist (and nativist) strain in American thought on architecture. In the early twenty-first century it is called "form follows function," or functionalism, and it is associated particularly with the jottings of the expatriate sculptor Horatio Greenough (1805852) in "American Architecture," published in the North American Review (1843), and Aesthetics at Washington (1851). Greenough corresponded with Ralph Waldo Emerson regarding "my theory of structure" based austerely on "function" and calling for "the entire and immediate banishment of all make-shift and make-believe." Emerson called these ideas a "beam of sunlight" and borrowed them in his own writing (Kowsky, pp. 867). He in turn was quoted by Vaux in Villas and Cottages.
The fiercest essentialist was Emerson's young disciple Henry David Thoreau (1817862), whose Walden (1854) bears a complex relationship to the villa book craze. Thoreau was surrounded by new villas in the suburbs of Boston, and he critiques them sharply, with their "spacious apartments, clean paint and paper, Rumford fireplace, back plastering, Venetian blinds, copper pump, spring lock, a commodious cellar" (p. 29). He seems to quote Downing's famous advice on how to paint a dwellingtake up a handful of the earth at your feet, and paint your house that color"nd instantly condemns it. Walden has therefore been regarded as a dismissive satire on the villa books, but actually it adapts, in a sophisticated way, the ideas of those books for radical, transcendentalist purposes. Walden has a long introductory chapter, "Economy," much like the didactic prefaces of the villa books. Again like the villa books, it features a wood-engraved frontispiece illustration showing a house designed by the authorn this case his little pond-side dwelling, ten by fifteen feet, which Thoreau took seriously enough to always call a "house," almost never a "cabin" or "hut" as it is called in the early twenty-first century. His itemized list of house-building expenses, amounting to little more than $28, has been taken to be a joke, but some villa books give similar lists with totals not much higher, aimed at an audience of laborers. Walden is meant for "poor students," Thoreau notes, and he cleverly co-opts the villa books' language and approach to critique contemporary society and manners.
AN EXPANDING LITERATURE
Thoreau was not the only literary author to use architecture and architectural ideas to telling effect. One thinks of Nathaniel Hawthorne's (1804864) Mosses from an Old Manse (1846) and House of the Seven Gables (1850)rawing early attention to American colonial architecture, specifically the clapboard frame house of seventeenth-century Massachusettsnd Edgar Allan Poe's (1809849) chilling "The Fall of the House of Usher" (1839). Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811896) won sympathy for Uncle Tom by describing his log house in the time-honored language of the beloved English cottage, embowered in flowering vines. Washington Irving (1783859) went further, building a house for himself that imitated the Dutch colonial architecture he had evoked so vividly in his stories, complete with step gables, shaped chimneys, and two kinds of porch. "Sunnyside" (1835837), near Tarrytown, New York, was highly influential on Davis and Downing and still stands in the early twenty-first century as a landmark of the picturesque. In a real sense it advertised Irving to the public, as steamboat travelers on the Hudson could not miss it. In an age when architecture was constantly noticed and discussed, all kinds of promoters used it to advance their causes. P. T. Barnum, for example, erected the wildly flamboyant Moorish-style villa "Iranistan" (1846848) in Connecticut to call attention to his New York museum. Guests trekked to the onion dome on top, sat on a circular divan big enough for forty-five people, and viewed the landscape through diamond-shaped windows, each a different color. Awed by the appearance of "Iranistan's" on Barnum's letterhead, the Swedish singer Jenny Lind signed up with him for her sensational American tour in 1850.
Following suit, literary and newspaper outfits used architecture to advertise themselves, as in the Sun Building (1850851) in Baltimore or the Harper & Brothers publishing plant (1854855) in New York. Both of these had sumptuously ornate cast-iron facades by James Bogardus (1800874), who deserves mention. A technological genius, he took out patents on numerous mechanical devices both before and after a stay in London in 1836840. His ferrous (iron) architecture breakthrough swept America after he patented an all-iron building in 1849 and published Cast Iron Buildings: Their Construction and Advantages (1856).
As their public role gradually increased, women writers made significant contributions to the contemporary dialogue on architecture. Some of the most eloquent commentators on American building were female travelers, such as Harriet Martineau and Catharine Maria Sedgwick. The Swedish tourist Fredrika Bremer idolized Downing and left invaluable descriptions of his aesthetic lifestyle at "Highland Garden"; Susan A. F. Cooper, daughter of novelist James Fenimore Cooper, voiced opinions on architecture in Rural Hours (1850); and the prolific New Haven, Connecticut, writer Louisa C. H. Tuthill's History of Architecture from the Earliest Times (1848) was the first such American publication. With every passing year women were becoming more active in reform movements generally and in publishing books and articles on household improvement. Harriet Beecher Stowe's sister Catharine E. Beecher (1800878), founder of Hartford Female Seminary and a subsequent school in Cincinnati, Ohio, argued that women should take control of many aspects of the home and that houses should be rationally designed to suit women's practical needs. Her Treatise on Domestic Economy (1841) was annually reprinted through 1856 and was later enlarged, with Harriet's help, into The American Woman's Home; or, Principles of Domestic Science (1869).
The fecund architectural ideas of 1820870 cast a long shadow, even as the practice of architecture changed greatly with the rise of the university program (starting at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1868), the habit of getting foreign training at the Ele des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and the proliferation of architectural journals. Downing's published cottage designs were pirated as late as 1883, and his Landscape Gardening entered a tenth edition in 1921, nearly seventy years after his death. Davis continued to practice and design into the 1890s. More generally the picturesque flourished in a variety of guises throughout the late nineteenth century, most colorfully as Queen Anne, with its turrets, shaped chimneys, variegated rooflines, and jigsaw work. Even with the coming of modernism, the picturesque remained important, its essentialist and functionalist strain proving highly influential on Frank Lloyd Wright, who began designing in the 1880s. The cottages and villas of 1820870 in their leafy landscapes remain significant in the early twenty-first century for they are directly ancestral to the suburban homes that have, by the millions, engulfed the modern American landscape.
See also Americans Abroad; Art; English Literature; Gothic Fiction; Transcendentalism
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. 1854. New York: Modern Library, 1992.
Cooledge, Harold N., Jr. Samuel Sloan, Architect of Philadelphia, 1815884. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986.
Crowley, John E. The Invention of Comfort: Sensibilities and Design in Early Modern Britain and Early America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.
Gayle, Margot, and Carol Gayle. Cast-Iron Architecture in America: The Significance of James Bogardus. New York: Norton, 1998.
Hafertepe, Kenneth, and James F. O'Gorman, eds.American Architects and Their Books to 1848. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001.
Hitchcock, Henry Russell. American Architectural Books. New York: Da Capo, 1976.
Kowsky, Francis R. Country, Park, and City: The Architecture and Life of Calvert Vaux. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Maynard, W. Barksdale. Architecture in the United States, 1800850. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2002.
Peck, Amelia, ed. Alexander Jackson Davis, American Architect, 1803892. New York: Rizzoli, 1992.
Pierson, William H., Jr. American Buildings and Their Architects: Technology and the Picturesque, the Corporate, and the Early Gothic Styles. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1978.
Reiff, Daniel D. Houses from Books: Treatises, Pattern Books, and Catalogs in American Architecture, 1738950. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000.
Schuyler, David Paul. Apostle of Taste: Andrew Jackson Downing, 1815852. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.
W. Barksdale Maynard