Vincent B. Canizaro, associate professor of architecture, has brought together more than 40 articles or book excerpts from seminal figures in architectural regionalism, stretching from the early part of the 20th century to the present.
The book, Architectural Regionalism: Collected Writings on Place, Identity,
Modernity, and Tradition (Princeton Architectural Press, 2007), provides a
comprehensive overview of what Canizarerms “this misunderstood and neglected discourse.”
Regionalism in architecture eludes a simple definition, according to Canizaro, who writes, “Regionalism is never a singular theory or practice but is most often a means by which tensions—such as those between globalization and localism, modernity and tradition—are resolved.” Still, the term refers to buildings and communities that are connected to, and draw their context from, a particular locale.
Each chapter includes from two to 12 articles organized around a theme, such as regional planning, bioregionalism and regional modernism. Included are works by well-known writers on the interplay between place and architecture.
“It’s much more interesting for students to read a variety of viewpoints, rather than listening to one theorist,” Canizaro says.
The influence of Lewis Mumford pervades the book, says Canizaro. In 1952, Mumford edited Roots of Contemporary American Architecture, which became a popular textbook. His writings are featured in two chapters in this collection.
“Mumford is certainly the best guide for 20th-century discussions of regionalism. He was thorough and pragmatic, and he understood that architecture is a subset of regional planning,” says Canizaro. “He was interested in trying to make people’s lives better, and in that sense, has always been
considered a utopian.
“The promise of regionalism in architecture is to re-embed us in the reality and diversity of our local places—critically and comfortably. I guess the reason I like him so much is I’m an optimist, too.”
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