Obsolescence in Modern Architecture


ACLS Fellowship Program


Art and Art History


This study of obsolescence brings together architectural, economic, urban, and social history towards the goal of exploring how an historical nexus of forces in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century America generated a discourse of obsolescence, and then subsequently how this theme became internalized in architecture culture internationally. It is this project's argument that obsolescence represents an extreme case of architecture under capitalism (understood in part as the "process of creative destruction") and that obsolescence is therefore a key theme for understanding the history of modern architecture. Ultimately, this multidisciplinary project bears relevance for the contemporary practice of architecture and for a humanistic understanding of culture in capitalist society.