How is a discipline born, or, alternatively, how is an existing discipline reimagined? These are the questions Avigail Sachs ponders and, to a large degree, answers in her thoughtful, meticulously researched study of postwar architectural education, Environmental Design: Architecture, Politics, and Science in Postwar America. The backdrop is the rise of the science-based research enterprise within American higher education as it was supported by such federal agencies as the National Science Foundation. Departments and schools of architecture, many of them still adjusting to the Bauhaus-inspired reforms that had only recently upended traditional, Beaux-Arts educational practices, sought renewed relevance within this context. As developed during the 1950s and...

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