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Architecture in the United States: Professor Dell Upton Essay

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Dell Upton is a historian and renowned professor of architecture and Urbanism at the University of California. He has published several books on architecture; one of them is “Architecture in the United States”, published in 1998. In this book, Upton analyzes the architecture of the United States in different aspects, such as nature, money and art, thus depicting the great variety in architectural forms, and how throughout the decades, different interests have lead communities to different ways of building, different purposes and materials, thus reflecting their way of thinking and their relationship with the environment. By exploring so many different architectural styles, Upton reveals the great diversity and richness that has always, and continues to characterize American architecture.

For Upton, “architecture is an art of social story telling, a means for shaping American society and culture...” (11), and it is up to the historian to choose which of many possible stories to tell. In his approach, he refused a chronological order and relied instead on five thematic structures: community, nature, technology, money and art. In the very first chapter, Upton introduces the symbol of the house in the United States; it represents the American dream and the concept of social mobility. He analyzes one of the most famous houses: Monticello, designed by Thomas Jefferson. In describing how this house served as a home for not only family members and numerous visitors, but for slaves as well, Upton proposes that Jefferson “organized Monticello to convey his sense of himself as the patriarch at the centre of his universe” (28).

In the Community chapter, Upton studies how the architecture of societies has represented the Americans th...


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...’s book accomplishes a lot in its timid three hundred pages, it lacks more examples of modern architecture and historical landmarks such as the ones discussed above. Also, the lack of chronological order is a new approach, but it might not appeal to all readers.









Bibliography

Goeshel, Nancy. (September 23, 1980). Grand Central Terminal Designation Report. (LP-1099). New York, City of New York. Retrieved from: http://www.neighborhoodpreservationcenter.org/db/bb_files/80-GRAND-CENT-INT.pdf

Landmarks Preservation Commission. (July 19, 1994) Seventh Regiment Armory
Designation Report. (LP-1884). New York, City of New York. Retrieved from: http://www.neighborhoodpreservationcenter.org/db/bb_files/1994SeventhRegimentArmoryInterior.pdf

Upton, Dell. Architecture in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. Print






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