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Title: SKYSCRAPEROLOGY: Tall Buildings in History and Building Practice (1975-1984)
Authors: Lopez-Perez, Daniel
Advisors: Papapetros, Spyros
Colomina, Beatriz
Contributors: Architecture Department
Keywords: historiography
tall buildings
Subjects: Architecture
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: In the 1970s, a number of European and American architectural journals focused their content exclusively on the typology of the skyscraper. Across their pages, images of contemporary projects appeared juxtaposed alongside a collection of texts that recounted the history of the tall building. This superimposition of past and present resulted in disjunctive rather than reconciliatory narratives, due to the lack of correspondence between these texts and images. As a way to explore this chasm, this dissertation studies the subject of "skyscraperology"-- a composite discourse that examines the tall building by tracing the simultaneous innovations that took place in its practice, history, theory, and criticism. During the decade of "skyscraperology" (1975 - 1984), while the typology of the tall building reached an unprecedented scale and degree of technological complexity, it also confronted theoretical debates that challenged the terms of its history as well as those of contemporary practice. The impulse to reexamine the history of the tall building as it transitioned from a late modern to a postmodern era was an attempt to both contextualize and re-imagine its development, prompted by the belief that the potential to change the future necessitated confronting and reexamining unresolved questions from the past. Although the history and practice of tall building design are often perceived as being driven by a pronounced technological motive, this dissertation argues that tracing the transformation of the skyscraper during this period ultimately reveals technology's unstable status, rendering the tall building as a complex and contested historiographical artifact whose rise is far from neutral. Given its parallels to our contemporary condition, the decade of "skyscraperology" becomes an instrumental period of study as a means to reimagine practice and its production of tall buildings today. Rather than continuing to exploit a narrow and positivist project based on technological innovation, the interest here lies in broadening disciplinary concerns by challenging the typology through a historiographic framework. It is precisely from an expanded notion of the discipline, one that is understood as responsible for its own history, that new historiographical journeys will emerge reimagining the terms of history as well as those of contemporary practice as a way to reshape the future in unprecedented ways.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Architecture

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