With The Romanesque as Relic: Architecture and Institutional Memory at the Collegiate Church of Saint-Omer, Michalis Olympios contributes to ongoing discussions about the architectural visualization of institutional history practiced by medieval religious foundations in Latin Europe. This article focuses on the collegiate church of Saint-Omer (Pas-de-Calais), a rare surviving example of a building from the region of French Flanders preserving architectural fabric from the eleventh to the sixteenth centuries. More specifically, Olympios examines the Romanesque apsidiole in the chapel of Notre-Dame-des-Cloches and its integration into the edifice's Gothic north transept, erected in the third quarter of the fifteenth century. A close reading of the architecture, the narrative and hagiographic sources, and unpublished archival documents demonstrates that, as in many other instances from across Europe, the retention of this earlier feature reflects the secular chapter's conscious decision to showcase the antiquity and prestige of the church by providing visual “evidence” of its foundational myth.
Leon Battista Alberti famously likened the relationship between architectural structure and superstructure to the dualism of skeleton and skin. In Amorphous Ornament: Wendel Dietterlin and the Dissection of Architecture, Elizabeth J. Petcu scrutinizes how the Architectura treatise (1593–98) of Strasbourg artist Wendel Dietterlin the Elder (ca. 1550–99) subverted Alberti's theory and the aesthetic of stability it promoted by popularizing a style of amorphous architectural motifs that recall bone, cartilage, muscle, and flesh, melding built framework with decorative surface. Drawing these corporeal conceits from contemporary anatomical publications, Dietterlin inspired buildings, architectural prints, and objects that challenged tectonic conventions, upset the traditional split between exterior and interior, and emulated the figural arts’ involvement in representing interior human forms. In assessing how Dietterlin's Architectura turned the proverbial body of architecture inside out, Petcu demonstrates that Renaissance comparisons between body and building did not always project ideals of architectural beauty and reveals overlooked origins of baroque-era fusions of architecture and the figural arts.
In the period 1919–22, two events catalyzed General Motors’ nascent dominance in the automotive industry: the company built a monumental headquarters in Detroit, designed by Albert Kahn Associates and located on what was then the periphery of the city; and a restructuring of the corporation was enacted at the behest of several newly appointed executives, including Alfred P. Sloan. In “Actual Center of Detroit”: Method, Management, and Decentralization in Albert Kahn's General Motors Building, Michael Abrahamson explores the conjunction between these events, arguing that both manifest a struggle with immense size. To cope with the bigness of buildings, corporations, and urban environments, GM and the Kahn firm developed strategies that set the agenda for architectural practice, corporate management, and urban development for the twentieth-century United States. Together, these strategies reveal the entwined forces that influenced the design of the General Motors Building.
The glass skyscraper was a dream of architects and historians alike throughout the early and mid-twentieth century, but the ubiquity of the “glass box” occurred decades after Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's seminal proposals in 1922. In fact, these and other proposals for all-glass building skins were ridiculed by the profession, in particular Chicago architect George C. Nimmons, designer of the first “windowless department store” for Sears, Roebuck in 1934. Heating and cooling costs, he argued, would be prohibitive in such a building, and scientific writers sided with him; with modern services, noted Architectural Forum, the window “dies hard.” As Thomas Leslie, Saranya Panchaseelan, Shawn Barron, and Paolo Orlando describe in Deep Space, Thin Walls: Environmental and Material Precursors to the Postwar Skyscraper, despite the critics, enthusiasm for new technologies—fluorescent lighting and air-conditioning in particular—influenced a generation of solid curtain wall structures, including Pittsburgh's Alcoa Building and Chicago's Prudential Building. Improvements in glazing lagged behind the development of air-conditioning and lighting, however, and problems with the performance of glass challenged these structures’ solidity. Insulated window units and heat-absorbing glass emerged in the late 1940s and early 1950s, providing technical answers to the formula suggested by interior services, and the resulting glass skins emerged—some thirty years after Mies's experiments—as economically logical responses to the changed material possibilities.