"Architectural History or Landscape History?"By Dell Upton, University of California Berkeley
- Citation: Dell Upton. “Architectural History or Landscape History?” Journal of Architectural Education. (1984-), Vol. 44, No. 4. (Aug., 1991), pp. 195-199.
- Argument: Upton argues that architectural history has been a biography of designers and instead should encompass human experience and social interaction to evaluate work.
- Author: Dell Upton was educated at Colgate and Brown. He earned his Ph.D. American Civilization, at Brown University; a M.A. American Civilization, at Brown University and a B.A. History, English, at Colgate University. He is a Professor of various courses focusing on the architectural and the cultural. He was a consultant and chief catalogue essayist for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2000 exhibition Art and the Empire City: New York, 1825-1861. Upton has a multitude of published works including: Another City: Urban Life and Urban Spaces in the New American Republic 2008, Architecture in the United States 1998, Holy Things and Profane: Anglican Parish Churches in Colonial Virginia 1986. He is also working on a world history of architecture. (http://www.arthistory.ucla.edu/people/faculty/dupton/)
- Method: Upton argues that architectural history has been a biography of designers and instead should encompass human experience and social interaction to evaluate work. Dell Upton makes his argument by describing how previous accounts of architectural history are more a biography of the designer and builder. How each time period is viewed is marked by a certain building or designer. This way of defining history lacks a focus on the human made environment. He cites sociological analysis to support his claim. For example, “defining a distinctive realm of expertise and of devising a mechanism for limiting entrance to its practice.” This source elaborates on how professionalism started and the tools it uses to be more exclusive. The universal notion of style has been refined and preserved since the renaissance by people who are not part of vernacular and who gained professional status from certain education and training. Upton looks extensively into sociological writings on cultural hierarchy to explain why some works are considered aesthetically pleasing and others not.
- Key words: Human landscape, cultural landscape, perception
- Map: Please see Mind Map attached.
- Evaluate: Sources selected: “Aesthetics as an Intellectual Network” by Casey Haskins and “Space and the Perception of Time”by Victoria Meyers
- Rationale: “Aesthetics as an Intellectual Network”by Casey Haskins branched off from Upton’s ideas of the notion of aesthetics being created by the high cultured professionals. He argues that aesthetics of all kinds including art and music are monopolized and governed by a select group of high cultured professionals. He believes philosophical aesthetics is shared throughout all of the creative fields and he argues that they play off each other. “Space and the Perception of Time”by Victoria Meyers branches off the keyword perception that I selected from Upton’s article. She discusses how light, shadow, and textures affect the user’s perception and how it can be manipulated. Haskin’s ideas of high culture contribute to Upton’s thesis by reaffirming his claim that professionals in their fields produce our preconceived notion of aesthetics. While Meyer’s concepts on perception outlines the characteristics needed to create the human experience and social interaction Upton asserts is needed to evaluate architectural work.