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194X: Architecture, Planning, and Consumer Culture on the American Home Front

Andrew M. Shanken
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 264
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    In a major study of American architecture during World War II, Andrew M. Shanken focuses on the culture of anticipation that arose in this period, as out-of-work architects turned their energies from the built to the unbuilt, redefining themselves as planners and creating original designs to excite the public about postwar architecture. Shanken recasts the wartime era as a crucible for the intermingling of modernist architecture.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6807-6
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction: Planning the Postwar Architect
    (pp. 1-14)

    This is a book about planning, specifically the culture surrounding planning during World War II in the United States and particularly its intersection with architecture and consumer culture. Actual master plans play a negligible role, as do buildings. Rather, it is a cultural history of home front anticipation that takes the intertwined realms of architecture, planning, and consumer culture as its point of departure and views the inter section through the experience of the architectural profession. Almost from the moment the war ended the Depression, Americans began to forecast the world after the war. Buildings and cities provided vivid material...

  6. 1 The Culture of Planning: The Rhetoric and Imagery of Home Front Anticipation
    (pp. 15-58)

    Architects embraced planning in the cultural context of the home front, when New Deal, wartime, and postwar planning overlapped. These three forms of planning gave the moment its rhetorical and visual character, filtering widely into American culture and tilting Americans toward the future. The culture of planning emerged out of these specific historical conditions. It reflected a response to the coming of age of urban planning, but it also grew out of the larger crisis of industrial capitalism. The entire western world seemed to be in the throes of a systemic shift marked by, among other things, a move toward...

  7. 2 Old Cities, New Frontiers: Mature Economy Theory and the Language of Renewal
    (pp. 59-95)

    The culture of planning prepared Americans in word and image for what seemed like an inevitable national venture into urban reconstruction after the war. Partisans of planning saw the renewal of cities in far-reaching terms as a transformation of culture and identity in light of the social, economic, psychological, and material dilemmas of the day. The home front posed the city as savior. The problem was, after more than a decade of neglect, cities lay broken and in disarray. Ill planned from the start and formed to serve anti-quated functions, most cities faced major social and economic problems that experts...

  8. 3 Advertising Nothing, Anticipating Nowhere: Architects and Consumer Culture
    (pp. 96-158)

    194X might be seen as a temporal frontier in which the rhetoric of maturity narrated a tale of destruction and the possibility of a new world after the war. While the metaphor of maturity prepared a postwar tabula rasa, advertisements in the building industry filled it in. Architects, who had been shunned by the armed forces in military building and planning operations, found themselves in league with one of the major forces behind home front morale and postwar anticipation: magazine advertising. The alliance boosted architecture’s prospects in small but significant ways. It created commissions for paper architecture in high-profile magazines...

  9. 4 The End of Planning: The Building Boom and the Invention of Normalcy
    (pp. 159-195)

    “Are youDoodlingorPlanningfor that Building Boom?”Timemagazine posed the question to readers ofArchitectural Forumand other magazines in April 1943 as part of a new series of advertisements that threw much of the culture of planning into question (Figure 4.1).¹ The building boom loomed in the mythical future of 194X. Its promise inspired architectural and urban fantasies, mobilized big business and advertising agencies, roused politicians, and threw economists into rancorous debate. Everyone wanted a piece of it and, as much as any other social figure on the home front, it tied these various elements of...

  10. Afterword
    (pp. 196-198)

    Planning, the vivid word used to narrate the world of 194X, today may well seem to be a dead word, or at least dated, representing a failed mission. But I believe this mission rests dormant in American culture, awaiting the right conditions to reassert itself. Planning emerged as a specialized field in the first place in the Progressive Era out of the conditions of nineteenth-century capitalism and urbanism. The Depression focused it and made it a matter of national and federal concern. In turn, war briefly made planning ubiquitous, as paradigmatic as engineering had been earlier in the century. War...

  11. Appendix: Wartime Advertising Campaigns
    (pp. 199-208)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 209-232)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 233-244)
  14. Index
    (pp. 245-254)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 255-256)
  16. [Illustrations]
    (pp. 257-268)