A History of American Architecture

Buildings in Their Cultural and Technological Context

Mark Gelernter

Why did the Victorians drape their buildings in elaborately ornate decoration? Why was the Arts and Crafts movement so popular with the American middle class at the end of the 19th century? Why did Modernism replace traditional architectural styles after World War II? Mark Gelernter provides fresh answers to questions like these, convincingly showing how buildings express powerful cultural forces. Embodying deeply felt attitudes about fundamental issues, buildings express our relationship with nature, our social relations with others, the importance of the individual, the value of science and technology, and our political role in the world. He explains how designers sometimes expressed these ideas with available building technologies, while at other times they invented new technologies in order to realize new ideas. Each of the ten chronological chapters, accompanied by almost 300 photographs, drawings, and maps, begins with a broad survey of the dominant cultural forces and technologies, and then discusses how designers of the day responded with particular architectural forms.

Paper: $35
ISBN-13: 9781584651369
Pages: 368 | Size: 7.5 in. x 9.25 in.
Date Published: July 1, 2001


  • A complete history of American architecture would fill a bookcase, but one can gain a strong understanding of this fascinating and challenging subject from this excellent survey.

    APT Bulletin: The Journal of Preservation Technology
  • Here is a comprehensive work for undergraduates containing more history and ideas than most. Gelernter offers crisp line drawings among the 289 illustrations . . . Ideology and history surrounding American buildings is included throughout, as are useful reviews of history from the ancient Greeks up through American settlement . . . effective coverage of most American architecture and the ideas that shaped it.

  • Gelernter covers a broad range of intellectual as well as architectural history.

    Boston Book Review
  • This significant and needed book provides for the first time a useful and manageable historic framework for survey courses whose purpose is to teach the history of American architecture and not merely its connoisseurship. In a manner noteworthy for its even-handedness and avoidance of quirks of taste, it constructs a comprehensive and accurate historical armature with an architectural perspective on which discussions of specific buildings can readily be hung.

    Glenn Andres
    Middlebury College

About the Author

Mark G. Gelernter

Mark Gelernter is Dean of the College of Architecture and Planning, University of Colorado Denver. An accomplished architectural illustrator and winner of several teaching awards for his ability to bring architectural history alive, he is author of Sources of Architectural Form (1995).

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