When Dianne Harris, first vice-president of the Society of Architectural Historians, invited me to deliver this plenary talk, she asked me not only to highlight the challenges that face historians of the built environment, but also to outline some of the innovative interdisciplinary methodologies that have been developed in recent years.1 My presentation this evening will thus focus on two questions: first, how do we——as historians, preservationists, critics, and scholars——gain access to evidence that can help us document and understand the poetics and the politics of architecture and spatial experience; and second, what methods of interpretation might we use, and what questions might we ask, as we try to make sense of the history and meaning of buildings, cities, landscapes, and built environments?

Before I begin, I would like to take note of the contributions of the many friends and...

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