Associate Professor of Architecture Ted Sawruk presented two papers this month at professional conferences. His paper entitled “Influence or Intervention: Works Associated with Ithiel Town in Rural Connecticut” was presented at the Southeast Society of Architectural Historians conference on October 11-13 in Lynchburg, Va. His second paper, “Cities on the Edge of Reality,” written with Dr. Michael J. Crosbie, was presented at the Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association (MAPACA) 28th Annual Conference on November 9-11, in Philadelphia, Pa.
Professor Sawruk was joined by three architecture exchange students, Maik Wedig, Ariane Bamberg, and Jan-Hendrik Höhnk from Hochschule Wismar Germany, who attended the MAPACA conference, and toured historic preservation sites as an extension of their Arc 585 Issues in Preservation graduate elective. Sites visited included Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, Carpenter’s Hall, Franklin Court, City Tavern, Philadelphia City Hall, Reading Terminal Market, Love Park, the Fairmont Waterworks, and the Barnes Foundation Museum.
“Influence or Intervention: Works Associated with Ithiel Town in Rural Connecticut”
Promoted by Thomas Jefferson through Benjamin Latrobe, the Greek revival eventually became the country’s “national style.” While the Greek revival style was a sign of rare elegance in the 1820s, it would soon become the fashion locally. To this end, the firm of Town and Davis (Est. 1829) completed a number of outstanding Greek revival residences in both New Haven and Middletown, promoting the style in various smaller towns along the Connecticut River.
Similar, yet unique, each of these rural retreats represent a varied example of the Greek revival style, and served as an interpretation of a Town and Davis archetype. This paper seeks to trace the similarities and variations of these rural houses, and the many nuances associated with the firms noted architectural precedents. Were these houses merely local builder’s reproductions of Ithiel Town’s evolving architectural style, or could they be the result of moonlighting incarnations of the firm’s lesser-known assistants James Harrison Dakin or David Hoadly? Either way, these rural houses support the significant influence of Town and Davis on Connecticut’s regional architecture.
Cities on the Edge of Reality
Throughout my lifetime, the mega city has been a constant character in science fiction, most notably in post-apocalyptic film genres, where life reveals desolate and ruinous, or hyper-utopian visions. Although these alternative realties offer a dynamic state and a sense of suspended reality, they also serve to heighten our realization that issues of over-population, escalating poverty, and resource shortages exist on the horizon. However, like a passing view in a mirror, these glimpses of dystopia do not serve to educate or insight change, but serve to entertain–to transcend time and place, while temporarily delving into an alternative reality.
However, the dystopian city portrayed in science fiction camouflages the emerging reality of the Kowloon Walled City of Hong Kong or South American favelas. Heterotopia is a concept of human geography introduced by the philosopher Foucault (1971), to describe places and spaces that function in opposition to social and cultural predominance. These spaces are characterized as “otherness,” as they are neither here, nor there. In turn, architect Rem Koolhaas breathes life into this contemporary description of heterotopia as the incarnation of “junkspace.” Koolhaas believes that dystopia is not a cinematic fantasy, but an advancing architectural reality. This paper addresses “heterotopia in a contemporary sense by considering the evolving relationships between dystopia in film and real-world constructs of junkspace.