Nalanda, in eastern India's Bihar state, was once the most important Buddhist monastery in the world. The six excavated temples there are oriented approximately to the cardinal directions, but their east–west axes are tilted more than 4° south of east. Other key Buddhist temples within the same cultural milieu (Bodhgaya, Vikramasila, Somapura, and Samye) are similarly oriented a few degrees south of east. As M. B. Rajani and Viraj Kumar argue in Nalanda: A Tale in the Twist, this demands an explanation, because a method to orient structures to within 0.5° of the cardinal directions was known in the region for several centuries prior to the construction of these temples. Rajani and Kumar identify a temporal pattern in the orientation of Nalanda's temples; hypothesize that each temple was aligned with the rise of a specific star (Spica or Beta Librae), with the temporal pattern being a consequence of axial precession; propose a simple, unified explanation for the few exceptions to the pattern; and use this hypothesis to propose an approximate construction date for each temple based on its orientation.
In 1953, architect, planner, and historian Erwin Anton Gutkind published a series of articles collectively titled “How Other Peoples Dwell and Build” in Architectural Design. At a glance, the series seems an anomaly in Gutkind's extensive oeuvre, and it remains little known in the field of vernacular architecture. In “How Other Peoples Dwell and Build”: Erwin Anton Gutkind and the Architecture of the Other, Marcel Vellinga aims to place the series within the broader context of Gutkind's writings. Running through Gutkind's work—and underlined in Vellinga's article—is the thesis that the historical development of human settlements mirrors the degenerating relationships between individuals and their communities, and between human beings and the natural environment. Thus, the Architectural Design series is an integral part of Gutkind's writings on the history of urban development. The series is one of the first architectural publications to focus on vernacular traditions from an international perspective and to emphasize the importance of studying vernacular architecture in its larger cultural and environmental contexts.
In Disharmony in the Clubhouse: Exclusion, Identity, and the Making of McKim, Mead & White's Harmonie Club of New York City, H. Horatio Joyce offers the first sustained case study of one of McKim, Mead & White's New York clubhouses. The Harmonie Club was a Jewish club, and Joyce explores how and why a firm associated with powerful Protestant interests came to design its home. His reconstruction of that story provides an unusually intimate portrait of an instance when the categories of race, gender, and class intersected to shape American society in the Gilded Age.
One of the landmark architectural advances of the twentieth century was the first automobile plant constructed of steel-reinforced concrete, an achievement that heralded the use of a revolutionary building technology for the largest and fastest-growing new industry in the United States. Numerous sources credit architect Albert Kahn with that first concrete auto plant as a result of his 1905 design for the Packard Motor Car Company's Building No. 10. However, as Michael G. Smith demonstrates in The First Concrete Auto Factory: An Error in the Historical Record, the Cadillac Motor Car plant in Detroit, designed by architect George D. Mason, preceded Packard No. 10. Moreover, Julius Kahn, Albert's brother, oversaw the engineering and construction of both the Cadillac plant and Packard No. 10, making essential contributions to both that have gone unrecognized until now. Smith describes how this significant error in the historical record came about and remained uncorrected even as researchers and writers pursued the subject.
In Notre-Dame du Raincy and the Great War, Etien Santiago explores how the 1923 church of Notre-Dame du Raincy, designed by Auguste and Gustave Perret, resonated with other French buildings erected during or soon after World War I. Officially designated a monument to a significant battle and the soldiers who died there, the church contains only two overt commemorative symbols, both of which are relatively discreet. Yet original sources reveal that the Perrets' contemporaries saw additional allusions to the war in the building's exposed concrete and bell tower, the latter of which evoked the “lanterns of the dead” typical of contemporaneous French Great War memorials. Moreover, to build Notre-Dame du Raincy, the Perrets drew direct inspiration from utilitarian wartime constructions. Contextualizing the church amid these related structures allows us to chart some of the multiple and often contradictory ways in which French citizens and designers grappled with the war and its legacy.