After World War II, the American Academy in Rome faced a choice: remain a bastion of declining Beaux-Arts classicism or pursue a more modernist agenda. In “A Truly Liberal Orientation”: Laurance Roberts, Modern Architecture, and the Postwar American Academy in Rome,Denise R. Costanzo demonstrates how Laurance Roberts, director of the Academy from 1946 to 1959, orchestrated its reorientation and welcomed architectural modernism. Under Roberts, a reconfigured Rome Prize in architecture—with no prescribed activities or stylistic limits—attracted graduates of top modern programs. During the 1950s conservative alumni attempted a counterreformation, and Roberts’s efforts to engage prominent modernists as resident architects faltered, highlighting the Academy’s limited relevance to the postwar discipline. Despite these challenges, Roberts established a more progressive administration that allowed Louis Kahn’s and Robert Venturi’s epochal stays, kept Rome on the American architect’s map, and offered one possible model of a “modernist academy.”

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