Alumni Activities: Kivanç Kilinç

Congratulations to Kivanç Kilinç (PhD 2010), who will be joining the American University of Beirut next year as Visiting Assistant Professor of Art and Architectural History in the Department of Architecture and Design. His research focuses on the transnational connections and their consequences, which shaped contemporary social housing practices in the Middle East. Other points of interest include domestic architectural culture in early twentieth century Turkey; Islamic art and architecture; and urban history and theory. Prior to his appointment at the AUB, Kilinç taught courses in architectural history, theory and criticism, as well as first year architectural design studio at Izmir University of Economics and Yaşar University in Turkey. Kilinç has published in journals such as The Journal of Architecture, New Perspectives on Turkey, and METU JFA, and is co-editor of a forthcoming book, Social Housing in the Middle East: Architecture, Urban Development, and Transnational Modernity (Indiana University Press, 2018). Currently he serves as the associate editor of The International Journal of Islamic Architecture (IJIA).

Graduate Activities: Melissa Fitzmaurice at the Society of Architectural Historians

Doctoral candidate Melissa Fitzmaurice presented a paper last Friday, June 9, as part of the panel Rethinking Medieval Rome: Architecture and Urbanism at the annual meeting of the Society of Architectural Historians in Glasgow, Scotland. Melissa was awarded the Gill Family Foundation Graduate Student Annual Conference Fellowship to support her travel to Glasgow.

Fascist Medievalism: Architecture, Authority, and Dissent in Rome

The demolitions involved in the excavation of the Mausoleum of Augustus and the creation of a surrounding piazza began on October 22, 1934, and eventually led to the destruction of 27,000 square meters within the city of Rome.[i]What was selected to remain is as important as what was destroyed: Mussolini routinely called for the isolation of ancient monuments, but in the case of the Mausoleum, there were buildings that stood in the way of the ideal isolation. Three medieval churches were protected and worked into the various plans for the piazzale over 30 years. Despite this and other cases, in the study of Italian Fascism and the regime’s urban and architectural interventions in Rome, the medieval city is often overlooked- the antique world looms much larger.  But the medieval offered a certain ideological utility to the regime as well, which must be examined.  Using digital mapping and modeling tools, and case studies including the preservation of medieval buildings during the production of the Piazzale Augusto Imperatore and the destruction of churches during the excavation of the Via dell’Impero, this project constitutes a palimpsestuous exploration of the legacy of medieval Rome. Beyond recognizing the use, manipulation, or destruction of medieval sites, this paper seeks to highlight the enduring power of medieval architecture on the Roman landscape, identifying the possibility or actuality of production of political and ecclesiastical authority, and dissent from that authority, in order to produce a deeper understanding of the continuities and ruptures between the medieval city, the fascist city, and the present. 

Graduate Activities: Nicole Wagner at the Getty

Doctoral candidate Nicole Wagner has been selected to participate in the Mellon Summer Institute in Italian Paleography, held from July 10-28 at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles:

This three-week residential course offers an intensive introduction to reading and transcription of handwritten Italian vernacular texts from the late medieval though the early modern periods. The course is taught in Italian.

While the emphasis is on building paleographical skills, the course also offers an overview of materials and techniques, and considers the history of scripts within the larger historical, literary, intellectual, and social contexts of Italy. Participants practice on a wide range of documents including literary, personal, legal, notarial, official, and ecclesiastical works. The course provides insight into the systems of Italian archives and allows participants to work with inventories, letters, diaries, and other primary source materials from the Getty Research Institute and other collections in the area.

Faculty Activities: Julia Walker at the Society of Architectural Historians

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and South African President Jacob Zuma before a meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, on Nov. 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

Assistant Professor Julia Walker will be presenting a paper this Friday, June 9, as part of the panel Publicly Postmodern: Government Agency and 1980s Architecture at the annual meeting of the Society of Architectural Historians in Glasgow, Scotland.

Dissolving Monumentality: Schultes and Frank’s Berlin Chancellery Building

This paper examines a crucial government project—Axel Schultes and Charlotte Frank’s Federal Chancellery Building in Berlin—completed in the waning years of postmodernism’s trajectory, but no less emblematic for that fact. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and Germany’s decision to return to Berlin after years of retreat in Bonn, the government sought to define a new image for itself through the architecture of its past and future capital. A yearning for a return to tradition infused the series of government competitions held to determine the master plan and individual buildings of the federal district, and the results show the government’s attempt to discover a simultaneously light and monumental architectural idiom.

This typically postmodern monumentality is most apparent in the proposals submitted to the Chancellery competition held in 1994. O. M. Ungers’s colonnaded design won third prize, while the firm KSV placed second with a proposal that jurors deemed indisputably classical. Yet Schultes and Frank seemed to have struck the balance between continuing the rhetoric of modest transparency established in Bonn and offering a new architectural confidence to the reunified nation. Their design, a nine-story, partially transparent cube flanked by lower wings, was intended to elicit “sympathy at the first glance,” as the architects stated. Its forbears are the pastoral government buildings designed at the beginning of the postmodern turn for developing nations, like Le Corbusier’s designs for Chandigarh or Louis Kahn’s National Assembly in Dhaka, as well as Romaldo Giurgola’s high postmodern New Parliament House in Canberra. By using this mode of monumentality, I argue, the German government intentionally and explicitly aligns itself with the political liberalization of postcolonial capitals. Yet implicitly, it also aligns itself with economic neoliberalization; this dissolved monumentality powerfully evokes the elimination of barriers fundamental to Germany’s new role in the global economy.