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AVIGAIL SACHS

University of California, Berkeley


The Postwar Legacy of
Architectural Research

This article contributes to the current discussion of design as research by examining the ideologi-
cal basis for the enthusiastic pursuit of scientific research in architecture in the postwar period.
The concept of ‘‘research’’ was steeped in theory and ideology, but the research itself was shaped
by the research economy—its policies and its institutions. Three very different case studies illus-
trate this phenomenon and demonstrate the importance of considering the research economy as
a factor shaping the direction of architectural research.

Research, Idea, and Reality profession in the United States. The ideal, in scholarly research was firmly rooted in contempo-
How does design research contribute to architec- William W. Wurster’s phrase, was to ‘‘broaden the rary ideologies relating to scientific management,
ture in theory and in practice? In September 2007, base of the profession’’3 by creating knowledge behaviorism, technological progress, and basic
the Journal of Architectural Education (JAE) pub- solidly based in science—that is, objective, research. With the dismantling of ‘‘big science,’’
lished an issue devoted to exploring that question: impartial, and rigorous. This knowledge, when especially in the social sciences, many of the
Architectural Design as Research, Scholarship, and disseminated and shared by members of the pro- underlying beliefs were discarded or openly
Inquiry.1 This collection of articles seeks to define fession, would form a solid foundation for creative attacked, leaving only a residue of methods that
a mode of scholarship and inquiry that is special to and even individualistic design processes. today seem alien and narrow.
architecture—and one that is not adequately Reginald Issacs, who taught landscape archi- Another reason—and this is the topic of this
described in terms of ‘‘the scientific method.’’ The tecture at Harvard, clearly stated this point of view: article—is that the idea of an architecture based on
editors, Dodds and Erdman, reject the ‘‘relatively research—like any other human idea—was never
narrow’’ understanding of the architect’s role that I do not believe that landscape architecture, city realized in its entirety. The idea of research was
is reflected in an ‘‘instrumental’’ approach to planning or architecture can call themselves never associated with a definite definition of
architectural research. This approach, they observe, professions unless there is a rapid increase from research. But in order to create the necessary
‘‘still commands much of the discourse, curriculum, practically zero in the number of scholars in institutions to channel the new profusion of
research agendas, and funding initiatives at many these professions. . .. Only through original research resources that flowed through the postwar
architecture programs in both North America and research will there be a systematic and military-industrial complex, the nebulous term
abroad.’’2 And they specifically cite the articles in consistent contribution to knowledge in our research had to be defined and molded into fund-
the first issue of the JAE as instances of this narrow professions. There are few self-made scientists able projects. Architects adopted research methods
attitude (see Figure 1). in any field. The chance accomplishments of originally developed in engineering, psychology,
This article offers a different reading of the individual discovery is far too hit-and-miss to sociology, and other fields to lend credibility to
first issue of the JAE. Based on an examination assure needed improvement of our professions. their work. Architectural research came to be
of post–World War II archival material—at the I hope to see half of the present faculty of the defined in terms of product development, building
American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Graduate School of Design replaced by systems design, environment-behavior studies,
schools of architecture at Michigan and Berkeley— scholars—not by practitioners such as myself.4 and so forth. The case studies described in this
I conclude that the term research was used in the article—the research programs at the AIA and at the
postwar period much as we might use the term Why then do we so often identify this work as Universities of California (Berkeley) and Michigan
‘‘theory’’ today. The argument for scientific narrow and practical? Part of the reason has to do (Ann Arbor)—are but three of many examples
research in that period was in fact part of a wider with the fundamental changes that have taken selected to illustrate the extensive range of mean-
argument about the nature of modern architec- place since the 1950s in the broader field of the ings that the ideal notion of research took on in the
tural practice and the future of the architectural philosophy of science. The postwar concept of postwar years.

53 SACHS Journal of Architectural Education,


pp. 53–64 ª 2009 ACSA
tects, and educators throughout the United
States—called for the inclusion of research in
architectural practice, they were not arguing,
necessarily, for the ‘‘scientification’’ of the design
process. They did not conflate research with design
but rather distinguished it as a systematic explo-
ration to yield generalizations that could be used by
architects in a range of contexts (see Figures 2 and
3). The products of research, they argued, would
place architectural practice on a shared and proven
basis from which a truly modern architecture could
emerge. Walter A. Taylor, director of the Depart-
ment of Education and Research (E&R) at the AIA,
wrote in the JAE, no. 1:

Research, therefore, can supply the practitioner


with a fundamental approach to his problem,
and can either replace or confirm the intuitive
and rule-of thumb process that so besets us
1. The first issue of the JAE, published in 1947, was devoted to research
in architecture and advocated the introduction of the ‘‘scientific method’’ today. Research cannot reduce design to
into professional practice. (Courtesy Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.) a formula, for design by its very nature is the 2. The Texan Architect, William W. Caudill, was a founding partner of the
final creative integration. Research could give firm CRS and strongly supported ‘‘research’’ in the firm and at TAMU. He did
This process of institutionalization and its not, however, conflate research with design but rather saw them as distinct
the designer new resources that might
consequences has special relevance for us today. As and complementary professional practices. (Courtesy of the CRS Center,
conceivably sharpen and stimulate creative TAMU.)
the September 2007 issue clearly illustrates, we are
integration to a new height of clarity and
today once again in the process of defining and
effectiveness. We do not know positively, of
refining the idea of architectural research. Today’s
course, because we have never had an research was objective and widely applicable and
concept is very different from the postwar defini-
architecture based on research, but it would be therefore superior to knowledge derived from
tion and in many ways is constituted in opposition
exciting to attempt it.5 other pursuits. Robert McLaughlin, Dean at
to it. We also no longer work in the research
Princeton University in the 1950s, summed up
economy of the postwar years, with its particular
The proponents of an architecture based on this position well:
policies and funding opportunities. But in making
research conceived of research as a collective
our ideas of research a reality, and institutionalizing
project, and they did not expect every architect It is not enough for the architect to attack each
them in schools and firms, we operate within the
to undertake research on his/her own. Instead, problem as an artist. He needs to have the
research economy of today. As in the 1950s, this
they advocated that the profession as a whole knowledge of scientists, and no single architect
research economy will impose its particular meth-
should pool resources to amass new and sys- can have that. The world of knowledge
odological and ethical choices. By examining the
tematic knowledge and disseminate it widely. The underlying architecture is too vast for the
dilemmas and choices of our predecessors, we can
schools of architecture were specifically charged individual to encompass. How does the
better recognize and understand some of the
with training future researchers who would profession meet this problem? The method of
problems we will have to address as well.
undertake research for the entire profession. This science is the method of research: research for
‘‘An Architecture Based on Research’’ ambitious vision bears all the hallmarks a mod- principles of architecture that, once
When Turpin Bannister, the editor of the first issue ernist project: it was based on the positivist encompassed, become the basis for rational
of the JAE—and like-minded colleagues, archi- assumption that the knowledge produced in design decisions.6

The Postwar Legacy of Architectural Research 54


As Magali Sarfatti Larson argues, professions what Oliver Zunz has called an ‘‘institutional matrix
are social entities whose power can fluctuate: pro- of inquiry’’ that linked scientists in research uni-
fessions can both gain and lose their autonomy.7 versities, institutes of technology, corporate labo-
This means that professionals can make conscious ratories, and private and public foundations.10
(and unconscious) attempts to direct this process. Often, it was enough to describe something as
In the postwar years, American architects were research to be able to command resources. Archi-
acutely aware of a professional crisis. The Great tecture schools, moreover, especially those located
Depression and the wartime economy, when most in the growing research universities, had to conform
construction all but ceased, had done more than to some degree to the restructuring in their parent
deprive architects of work. Organized in small institutions.
private offices, most architects were ill prepared to Advocating a research-based profession was
contract with public agencies. Working on New Deal also a way to make a statement about the impor-
and defense projects, architects found themselves tance of housing as a topic for the profession.
collaborating more than before (work was divvied Housing, conceived as both a social and a technical
so that more architects would be paid) as well as problem, was a topic of research and fact finding as
engaging in new types of building assignments, early as the late nineteenth century, and the con-
particularly housing and community planning. nection between good housing and scientific (or
Although the postwar building boom alleviated the quasiscientific) knowledge was further consoli-
architects’ most pressing problem—finding dated in the twentieth century. Architects had not
work—it was clear that it would not reverse the ignored this development: as early as 1927, the
new social and economic conditions of practice. Architectural Record advised its readers to adopt
3. The Texan Architect, William W. Caudill, was a founding partner of the
Many advocates of research, moreover, were com- ‘‘the research method of science—observation, firm CRS and strongly supported research in the firm and at TAMU. He did
mitted, ideologically and politically, to the contin- hypothesis, education, experimental verification.’’11 not, however, conflate research with design but rather saw them as
ued involvement of architects in public work. The Housing, however, remained on the periphery of distinct and complementary professional practices. (Courtesy of the CRS
Center, TAMU.)
call for a research-based architecture was clearly the profession’s interest, and only a few (albeit
connected to a call for a new (research-based) prominent) academic programs included the topic
architect and a reprofessionalization of the pro- in their curriculum. The Depression and especially
fession. the New Deal forced architects to reframe their development of new materials and systems, played
Subscribing to research, however nebulosity relation to the problem. Emphasizing research as a key role in advances in the building industry from
defined, was the most expedient way to place a general field of inquiry over the more specific the early twentieth century, and several of the more
architecture firmly within the American culture housing research was a way to further appropriate progressive industrialists were quick to establish
of professionalism.8 Science, broadly defined, and ‘‘gentrify’’ the problem and place it squarely research units dedicated to the development of
has always played a crucial role in the American within architecture. new and more efficient building materials and
professions’ struggles over power, since—unlike This focus on the social and community systems.12 Many individual architects were
their counterparts in Europe—American profes- aspects of housing also reconnected architects with involved in this development as both employees
sions could not rely on guild traditions as a source the postwar scientific disciplines of city and and entrepreneurs. In 1933, for example, the
of authority.9 And now military victory, the product regional planning and landscape architecture. aforementioned Robert McLaughlin established
in part of the American technological superiority, Similarly, the emphasis on the technical aspects of a company named American Houses, Inc., which
served to consolidate and intensify a widespread housing as a topic for research in architecture became one of the leading prefabricators in the
American consensus in which scientific investiga- affirmed a connection between the architects and United States.13
tion was seen as crucial for further progress and the building industry—the amalgamation of pro- Finally, for many of the proponents of an
a better societal order. This consensus was the basis ducers of materials, building systems, and prefab- architecture based on research (and its corollary,
for wide-spread investment in research throughout ricated components. Research, particularly the collaborative practice), research was a way to

55 SACHS
signify their preference for adaptive pragmatic applied research, prevailed, becoming a powerful housing research. Much of the postwar discourse
experiments over radical avant-garde innovation- part of Federal research policy and setting priorities on research in architecture pertains to this ideo-
s14—in other words, a resistance to formalism. As for many researchers.18 This political and economic logical and pragmatic problem, but reaching a def-
the proponents of research in architecture often climate was the first to shape the argument for inition that would be both broad and precise proved
made clear, they were worried that American architectural research. In this research economy, as difficult then as it is now.
architecture would fall back into the prewar pattern there were both theoretical and practical values in In order to define architectural research as
of eclecticism. They also feared that the codification defining architectural research that could be cate- basic research, it was first necessary to distinguish
and academization of European Modernism in the gorized as basic research and that was distinct from it from technical and fact-finding inquiries. The
United States would lead to an eclectic rather than
4. The Sky Lab and the Wind Lab at the TEES at the TAMU had an Architecture Division directed by Caudill in the 1950s. One of the projects undertaken
creative interpretation of International Style archi- in this division was a research studio in which the students tested their models of a classroom and documented the results of their ‘‘experiments.’’
tecture. In their view, eclecticism was a character- (Source: McCutchan, Gordon, and William W. Caudill, Research Report Number 32: An Experiment in Architectural Education through Research [College
istic of an individual artistic approach to Station, TX: TEES, The Texas A&M. College System, 1951] Courtesy of Roland Chatham (photographer) and CRS Center, TAMU.)

architecture, the very practice they were working to


replace in the reprofessionalization project. William
W. Caudill, a Texan architect and founding partner
of the firm Caudill Rowlett Scott (CRS), was forth-
right on this issue: ‘‘I firmly believe that the great-
est advancement in architecture will be made
through research much more than through reading
the Wright Bible or the Corbu Bible.’’15

Basic Architectural Research


The wartime Federal research policy was, by
necessity, a top-down and centralized project in
which the military set the priorities for new and
continuing research projects. After the war ended,
many Americans, Senator Harley Kilgore among
them, felt that this centralized approach should be
maintained.16 If the products of research were to
benefit the nation at large, Kilgore argued, the
patents that resulted from Federally funded proj-
ects should belong to the agency that funded them,
and those agencies should also have the authority
to direct future research for the benefit of the entire
nation. Kilgore was opposed by a powerful lobby
led by the scientist Vannevar Bush, which advo-
cated a decentralized and autonomous policy.
Bush’s postwar report, Science the Endless Fron-
tier,17 outlined a system in which scientists (as
experts in science) were given full responsibility to
determine the scope of research projects and also
retained the legal rights to their discoveries. This
position, with its emphasis on basic as opposed to

The Postwar Legacy of Architectural Research 56


distinction between the two types of research responsibility. Architectural Research deals As this example suggests, many definitions of
problems was reflected in research proposals. In primarily with problems of function and form in architectural research remained tautological and
1946, Caudill (who taught and engaged in buildings and their surroundings. It thereby contributed little to a better understanding of its
research at Texas A&M University [TAMU] in includes research in planning and research in nature. But by the 1950s, the idea of architectural
addition to his work in the firm CRS) submitted esthetics.25 research had gained enough support that a common
a proposal for a project, promising that the results
5. The Sky Lab and the Wind Lab at the TEES at the TAMU had an Architecture Division directed by Caudill in the 1950s. One of the projects undertaken
would be ‘‘exemplified in the actual construction
in this division was a research studio in which the students tested their models of a classroom and documented the results of their ‘‘experiments.’’
of a LOW COST RURAL SCHOOL as a practical (Source: McCutchan, Gordon, and William W. Caudill. Research Report Number 32: An Experiment in Architectural Education through Research. [College
application of the ideas and recommendations Station, TX: TEES, The Texas A&M. College System, 1951] Courtesy of Roland Chatham (photographer) and CRS Center, TAMU.)
formulated through this proposed research
project.’’19 Eight years later, however, he
described his work in much broader terms as
a project to define the parameters of ‘‘man’s
comfort,’’ to use his term.20 Caudill published the
results of this work in the form of research
reports under the auspices of the Texas Engi-
neering Experiment Station (TEES) at TAMU,21
creating pioneer publications in the field of
environmental studies in architecture (see
Figures 4 and 5).
This is the context for Taylor’s preoccupation,
in the first issue of the JAE, with the distinctions
between ‘‘Free Fundamental,’’ ‘‘Objective Funda-
mental,’’ and ‘‘Applied Research.’’22 In an attempt
to create a unique position for architects, Taylor
argued that architectural research is often of
a composite nature: even though it included prag-
matic solutions, it was ‘‘more’’ than merely applied
research. Taylor also defined the architect as ‘‘a
technologist who specializes in the human aspects
of the problem,’’ and he added, ‘‘I believe that this
is broad enough to include everything from aes-
thetics to air conditioning and city planning.’’23
Taylor’s discussion of research was made available
to a large audience when it was included in the
1954 report, The Architect at Mid-Century, written
and edited by Bannister.24
In 1956, the E&R published its own report on
architectural research and gave this definition:

Architectural Research encompasses areas of


building research for which the architectural
profession is best qualified to accept

57 SACHS
6. A drawing comparing the building industry with the manufacturing of
cars. Published in 1933, this drawing anticipated the central preoccupation
of people in the building industry in the postwar period. (Source: Bemis,
Albert Farwell, and John E. Burchard, The Evolving House. [Cambridge,
MA: Technology Press of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1933].
p. 31. Courtesy of MIT Press.)

partake in their disciplinary power. Architects


followed this route as well, hiring social scientists in
architectural firms and linking departments of
architecture with planning and landscape architec-
ture. In each of these routes, architectural research
took on different, specific and practical, meanings.

The Department of E&R at the AIA


The AIA established the Department of E&R in
1946 as part of a larger reorganization of the
Institute. Taylor, the appointed director, had (as we
have seen) an ambitious vision for architectural
research, and he was a staunch supporter of
a research-based practice. His goal was to establish
architects as the leaders of the factory-based
building industry. In a memo written circa 1946,
Taylor wrote optimistically: ‘‘It appears that many
members of the profession and many interests
outside of the profession look to The Institute,
and particularly to the Department of E&R to
create an active program of reporting, investigat-
ing and research.’’26 The AIA did provide some
support for the Department’s initiatives, but
Taylor and his colleagues relied on the building
industry for major funding. They even lobbied the
Producers Council (one of the representatives of
industrialists) to pay the Director’s salary!27 More
than this, Taylor and his colleagues saw their work
as a service to society and argued that ‘‘because
society as a whole will benefit through research for
better shelter and environment, it should con-
tribute major support through foundations,
government agencies and elements of the build-
ing industry that are dependent upon the pubic for
markets.’’28
Measured against these ambitious plans, the
definition of architectural research was not essen- had a choice between setting up a professional E&R achievements were very few, mainly due to
tial. Even without clear disciplinary boundaries (few organization and making use of existing institu- a shortage of funds. In 1949, the Department set
disciplines are clearly defined after all), architects tions—the schools of architecture—and shaping up an advisory service to act as a ‘‘listening post
could draw on postwar resources to build a disci- them to suit their needs. In the postwar years, and reporting agency, clearing house and coordi-
plinary apparatus—a set of institutions that could architects did both. A third route was to collaborate nating center, and the instigator of needed activi-
receive money, materials, and equipment and dis- with other researchers especially city and regional ties.’’29 The AIA service, however, did not endorse
tribute them to individual researchers. Architects planners, social scientists, and engineers—and the products developed through the research

The Postwar Legacy of Architectural Research 58


8. Elevation study for Wurster Hall, the home of the CED at University of
California, Berkeley. Architects: Esherick, Olsen, and DeMars. (Source:
Joseph Esherick Collection (1974-1), Environmental Design Archives,
University of California, Berkeley.)
7. A guide to small houses that shows the range of building materials and systems that were being marketed to consumers. The Department of
Educational and Research at the AIA worked to direct the research and development in this field. (Source: Harold E. Group, ed., House-of-the-Month We believe that if the architects can in some way
Book of Small Houses. Garden City, NY: Garden City, 1946. p. 130.)
carry out a continuous research program within
conducted under its auspices. Without such an ‘‘publications’’ as well as the AIA standing com- their own offices, if only on a very small scale,
endorsement from the AIA, corporate businesses in mittees to the Department itself, where it would be good advancement can be made. We also
the building industry looked elsewhere for a safer organized and systematized before being dissemi- believe that if architects will exchange ideas,
return on their investment, either within their own nated to AIA members and the general public. The and will unselfishly work towards improving our
research departments or in the academy. Moreover, AIA had expanded considerably in the immediate architecture, the profession will be much better
the Advisory Service was rapidly dwarfed by the work postwar years, and it had not only the voluntary off.30
of the Building Research Advisory Board, a private, work of AIA committee members but also full-time
nongovernmental, nonprofit organization under the personnel to assign to the project. In the 1950s, the Caudill and his partners made serious efforts to
auspices of the National Academy of Sciences. In Department published in the AIA Bulletin such incorporate research into the work of their own firm,
1954, Taylor and his staff conceded to this larger documents as technical or ‘‘building type’’ refer- CRS.31 Their scheme, in fact, bears a strong resem-
entity and discontinued their own service. ence guides, bibliographies, and special technical blance to Stephen Kieran’s description of a profes-
In its heyday, the Department of E&R articles. Though the scheme was neither efficient sion structured around a kernel of research.32 But, as
launched a project to gather knowledge in a field in nor systematic, it did reflect the organization of Caudill complained, this project was supported, and
which it could claim some monopoly: architects’ knowledge in many architectural firms and was therefore also controlled, by the design work done in
assessments of new building materials and pro- firmly rooted in the profession’s norms and needs. the firm: ‘‘when we are busy we cannot spare the
cesses. The Department plan called for this infor- Caudill, for example, was an enthusiastic supporter personnel; when we are not busy we cannot afford
mation (or ‘‘findings’’) to be filtered through of this plan: research.’’33 Caudill’s comment also points to the

59 SACHS
not look as if they had been made in a factory. With
the market uninterested in the E&R project and the
AIA unable to provide full financial support, the goal
of creating a central research agency within the pro-
fession was stalled and never realized in its entirety.

The School of Architecture at Berkeley


If the AIA favored a centralized policy that focused
on applied research, the School of Architecture at
Berkeley represents the opposite extreme. (The
School later became the College, and it is now an
academic Department.) Wurster, appointed dean of
the school in 1950, was emphatic in his interpre-
tation of research as a decentralized project. In
1959, for example, he wrote this in response to the
proposal of establishing a position of Director of
Architectural Research at the AIA:

I feel that the appointment of such a Director


might well be contrary to the very idea of
research and would do more harm than good. . ..
The appointment of a Director would lead
Foundations to believe that architects were
primarily interested in the development work
rather than basic research. A true research
9. Proposal for Wurster Hall completed in 1964 for the CED at University of California, Berkeley. Architects: Esherick, Olsen, and DeMars. (Source: Joseph
approach is based upon the freedom of
Esherick Collection (1974-1), Environmental Design Archives, University of California, Berkeley.) dedicated individuals to pursue their particular
research interests and not in a directed
snag in the AIA program. Although cooperation and beyond its control. The project relied on continued program.35
collaboration were seminal ideals in the profession growth in the demand for factory-made homes—
projected to emerge from the reprofessionaliza- but by 1948, revised lending policies limited the At Berkeley, Wurster and his colleagues were
tion project, the existing profession was based on buying power of many home consumers. Industri- supported by a generous university policy and
competition between private practitioners—and alists and builders were faced with an array of were free to devise a research program on the
the AIA apparatus was not strong enough to problems, in production and distribution and from model outlined by Vannevar Bush. Postwar
overcome these internal differences. The AIA local building codes and zoning laws, and they were Berkeley was in many ways an ideal institution in
continued with its efforts to collect practical unable to develop the industry to the level envi- which to experiment with such research projects
knowledge, but as early as 1973 the authors of the sioned at the end of the war. Moreover, standard- and policies. The University of California,
AIA Research Survey acknowledged that archi- ized housing was often rejected by members of the benefiting from the enrollment of numerous stu-
tects, both in schools and in firms, did not rec- building trade unions and by banks which refused dents funded by the GI Bill, had deep reserves that
ognize the need to share information and that to finance experimental ideas. Prefabrication also allowed for long-term planning.36 The Berkeley
there was a gap between the two realms.34 became associated with impermanence, and as the campus was also able to draw on considerable
The AIA project, based as it was on outside success of Levittown, New Jersey, made clear, federal funding for research projects. Though the
resources, was also thwarted by a circumstance Americans wanted mass-produced houses that did natural sciences, especially nuclear physics,

The Postwar Legacy of Architectural Research 60


and would undermine the connection between the
Department of Planning and the Social Sciences
and between Landscape and Agriculture and
Forestry.37 Wurster and others worked hard to
convince the majority of the faculty to support
the new institution and to bring architecture closer
to these related research traditions, and they were
ultimately successful (see Figures 8 and 9).
The second major change was the develop-
ment of a comprehensive research policy. The
departmental research committee, which was staf-
fed in rotation so that almost all faculty members
had a say, adapted the university research regula-
tions to architecture to produce a sixty-page policy
manual outlining how research was to be encour-
aged and supported. The committee recommended
that faculty seek extramural funds, but it also
worked to secure funding from the university, to
provide incentives for researchers, to protect their
freedom of choice of topics for research, and to
support the collection of data (especially through
collaborative projects) so as to avoid duplication.
The emphasis on individual responsibility, however,
precluded writing a concise definition of architec-
tural research. Instead the policy includes several
pages of discussion of what is and what is not
included in ‘‘systematic and deliberate investiga-
10. A Youtz Nine Unit House, developed at the University of Michigan as illustrated in a report written for the War Production Board, Washington, DC, in
1944. (Source: George G. Brigham, Final Progress Report on Experimental Investigation in Connection with a Study of the Youtz System of Construction, tion seeking to add to the body of knowledge of
Washington, DC, Ann Arbor, MI: Office of Production, Research and Development, The War Production Board, Washington, District of Columbia. architecture.’’38
Department of Engineering Research University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Submitted to Industrial and Consumer Products Branch, Office of Production, Wurster and his colleagues also made the
Research and Development, War Production Board, 1944. Foldout illustration.)
appointments needed to support the new research
attracted most of the federal and military invest- departments: Landscape Architecture and City policy, particularly the position of Assistant
ment, the top administration at Berkeley, led first and Regional Planning. Wurster and Catherine Research Architect. Ezra Ehrenkrantz, the inaugural
by President Sproul and later by President Kerr, Bauer, his wife and colleague at Berkeley, had appointee, combined teaching and research with
made and adhered to a policy of sharing the begun advocating the combined school soon after the administrative work of setting up the program.
money throughout the university to benefit the they joined the faculty, but the CED came into In 1960, the department research committee pro-
less lucrative departments. Both presidents also being only in 1959. The proposed college, and cessed and approved eight research proposals that
warmly backed the fundamental changes in the even more so its name, had become the focus of were then forwarded to the University Committee
School of Architecture. protracted debate over modern architecture, on Research.39 In the same year, Ehrenkrantz and
The first major change was to create the design, planning, and the connection between others sought to expand the research program
College of Environmental Design (CED), an them. The Planning and Landscape faculty feared beyond the borders of the United States by pre-
umbrella institution that combined the School of that aligning with architecture, a design field, paring a program for research in India and applying
Architecture with two planning and research would undercut the special position of planning for grant money from the Ford Foundation and the

61 SACHS
Government of India. The faculty at Berkeley also purview of the profession, and on the other, the direction and initiated by Charles W. Attwood, an
initiated the first graduate program based on discipline is organized by the priorities of academic alumnus and the president of Unistrut Inc., a com-
research rather than design. A 1956 draft proposal life at least as much as by professional require- pany specializing in building systems. Attwood
for the program was explicit: ‘‘The graduate pro- ments. This outside dependency has exacerbated asked Larson to research the application of the
gram and the research activity will be very closely the distinction between research and design as Unistrut modular housing system in the construc-
related although not synonymous. Graduate separate intellectual processes and contributes to tion of school buildings, a market he (like Caudill)
students and faculty in all options will be encour- the larger concern about the gap between the wanted to penetrate. Larson explained: ‘‘The object
aged to participate in research connected with their architecture schools and the profession.The original in research has been the development of a stan-
main effort.’’40 plan for the CED called for inter- and intraprofes- dardized system of low-cost schoolhouse con-
The architectural research program at Berkeley sional collaboration that would counterbalance struction offering a high degree of durability,
in the 1960s, thriving in the climate of continued such divisions, but as with the profession as flexibility, expansibility, demountability and reusabil-
investment in research, contributed widely to the a whole, such collaboration has proved to be easier ity.’’43 Thus, the project was in reality a hybrid
discussion of architecture. As an institution, it fared to project than to accomplish. between a design project and a more generalized
far better than its AIA counterpart, but this conti- research project, though it was completed on the
nuity came with a price. As the research program The Architectural Research Laboratory university campus. The products of this project—
developed, so did a discipline of architecture that is at Michigan construction drawing and specifications—were
separate from the profession. On the one hand, The architectural research program at the University published as research,44 and the building itself
many sources of academic funding lie outside the of Michigan, unlike the programs at the AIA and
Berkeley, was rooted in prewar housing research 12. The Unistrut building system featured on the cover of a Unistrat
11. The Unistrut building system on the cover of the University of undertaken in the department. Michigan began Products Company brochure. (Source: C. Theodore Larson Papers 1930–
Michigan Research News. C. Theodore Larson Papers 1930–1985 [bulk 1985 [bulk 1951–1974], Bentley Historical Library, University of
1951–1974], Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.)
offering courses on housing during the Great
Michigan.)
Depression when it established the Home Planners
Institutes to help Michigan citizens build affordable
housing. During the war years, the school collabo-
rated with the Engineering department to conduct
two projects sponsored by the National Housing
Agency and implemented through the Office of
Production, Research and Development of the War
Production Board. After the war ended, Dean Wells
Bennet appointed C. Theodore Larson as a faculty
member charged with overseeing and directing
research initiatives in the department. At the same
time, the architecture faculty updated the school’s
bylaws to reflect the importance of research.41 In
1949, the department went further and established
the Michigan Architectural Research Laboratory
(ARL) so as to provide individual research projects
with central organization including clerical and
accounting services. 42
The ARL was one of the centers that attracted
projects originating in the building industry.
A notable example was the Unistrut School
Construction research completed under Larson’s

The Postwar Legacy of Architectural Research 62


housed the Lab until it was dismantled in the 1970s research should encompass and how it should be 7. Magali Sarfatti Larson, The Rise of Professionalism: A Sociological
Analysis (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977), p. XV.
when the School of Architecture moved to another undertaken.
8. Burton J. Bledstein, The Culture of Professionalism: The Middle Class
campus (see Figures 11 and 12). But what of the future? As the Architectural and the Development of Higher Education in America (New York: Norton,
The Unistrut project, like other research under- Design as Research, Scholarship, and Inquiry issue 1976), pp. 80–128.
taken at Michigan, exemplified work that benefited all (JAE 61, no. 1) demonstrated, architectural 9. Elliott A. Krause, Death of the Guilds: Professions, States, and the
Advance of Capitalism, 1930 to the Present (New Haven: Yale University
the participants. Attwood received the information he research is today once more a topic of discussion Press, 1996), pp. 29–36.
needed to further his business, and the university and consideration. As such discussions become 10. Olivier Zunz, Why the American Century? (Chicago: University of
acquired a building at base cost, while gaining prac- more elaborate and concrete, we need to remember Chicago Press, 1998), pp. 5–23.
11. Gwendolyn Wright, ‘‘Modern Architectures in History USA,’’ in Vivian
tical experience for faculty members and students. the experience of the postwar research program.
Constantinopoulos, ed., Modern Architectures in History (London: Reak-
Such projects allowed the school to sustain a vigorous Most importantly, we must recognize and under- tion Books, 2008), p. 82.
and diverse research program, albeit often responding stand the research policy and economy in which we 12. Burnham Kelly, The Prefabrication of Houses: A Study by the Albert
to needs outside the profession. Its diversity is evident practice and include this understanding in our Farwell Bemis Foundation of the Prefabrication Industry in the United States
(Cambridge, MA, New York, NY: Technology Press of the Massachusetts
in the 1957 research policy: ‘‘Architectural research consideration of goals and objectives. A definition Institute of Technology and John Wiley and Sons, 1951), pp. 21–25.
can be defined as comprising all those studies that are that does not take these realities into consideration 13. Colin, Davies, The Prefabricated Home (London: Reaktion Books,
aimed at discovering new factors that should be will produce an ‘‘ideal’’ research program that is just 2005), p. 54.
considered in the planning and design of buildings that—ideal but unreal. This is a difficult problem, 14. G. Wright. Modern Architectures in History USA, p. 152.
15. Letter to Mr. Walter A. Taylor, Director, Department of Education and
and communities.’’45 In 1961, Dean Phillip Youtz since an apparatus for architectural research must Research, AIA from William W. Caudill, dated June 19, 1952. The AIA
concurred stating: ‘‘I don’t think that it is an either-or balance between centralized and decentralized Archives Box 431S, Washington, DC, p. 1.
matter but rather a question of emphasis.’’46 This models of research, between individual and group 16. Daniel Lee Kleinman, Politics on the Endless Frontier: Postwar
Research Policy in the United States (Durham, NC: Duke University Press,
diversity of goals as well as means is not a problem in goals, and between competing policies, methods,
1995), pp. 6–7.
itself, but it does raise questions about the scope and and types of knowledge. A system that balances all 17. Vannevar Bush, Science the Endless Frontier: A Report to the Presi-
nature of architectural research, as compared, for these considerations is perhaps beyond our reach, dent on a Program for Postwar Scientific Research (Washington, DC:
example, with housing research. but we should surely inquire into the nature of such United States Government Printing Office, 1945).
18. Roger L. Geiger, Research and Relevant Knowledge: American
a system and the implications of the inevitable Research Universities since World War II (New York: Oxford University
trade-offs that reality requires. Such a collaborative Press, 1993), p. 19–29.
In Retrospect
system must depend on discourse. It is well, then, 19. Letter to Dr. A. A. Jakkula, Acting Head, Engineering Experiment
Each of the institutions discussed in this article— Station, A&M College of Texas, from: William W. Caudill Re: Request for
that the JAE has opened the door to a sustained
the Department of E&R at the AIA and the schools Research Project dated 1946. Caudill Papers, CRS Archives, CRS Center,
discussion. Texas A&M University, College Station, TX.
of architecture at the University of California
20. Letter to Mr. Bartlett Cocke, Secretary-Treasurer, Texas Board of
and the University of Michigan—were headed by Architectural Examiners, from: William W. Caudill Re: Interpretation of
Notes
avid supporters of the idea of an architecture 1. The issue was an extension of a Special Focus Session at the 2007 Practical Experience dated September 27, 1952. Caudill Papers, CRS
and architectural practice based on research. These ACSA Conference.The issue was coedited and the session comoderated by Archives, CRS Center, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX.
JAE Executive Editor George Dodds and JAE Design Editor Jori Erdman. 21. For example: William W. Caudill, Sherman E. Crites, and Elmer G. Smith,
academic leaders worked hard, along with their
2. George Dodds and Jori Erdman, ‘‘Introduction,’’ JAE 61, no. 1 (2007): Some General Considerations in the Natural Ventilation of Buildings (College
colleagues, to implement and institutionalize Station, TX: Texas Engineering Experiment Station, 1951), p. 1–43.
4–6.
those ideas. As the case studies demonstrate, the 3. ‘‘President’s Report Issues, 1944–1945,’’ MIT Bulletin 81, no.1 (1945): 22. Walter A Taylor,‘‘The Architect Looks at Research,’’ JAE 1, no. 1
meaning, nature, and scope of architectural 138. (1947): 13–24.
4. Landscape Architecture in Practice and Education Discussion for the 23. The Continuing Educational Process: Remarks at the Southeastern
research was shaped not only by the research policy Regional Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools, Atlanta,
American Society of Landscape Architects’ Annual Meeting June 28, 1954.
adopted but also by the research economy of each Institute Archives and Special Collections, Hayden Library, MIT Collection, Georgia, Saturday, April 24, 1948. The AIA Archives Box 478S,
of the institutions. In each case, the source of Architecture Dean Papers AC 400 Box 3 Folder School of Architecture and Washington, DC, p. 5.
funding for research projects—with whatever Planning Policy 3/3, Cambridge, MA, p. 1 (emphasis added). 24. Turpin C Bannister, The Architect at Mid-Century; Report (New York:
5. Walter A.Taylor, ‘‘The Schools and Architecture Research,’’ JAE 1, no. 1 Reinhold, 1954), pp. 408–413.
‘‘strings’’ were attached to it—together with the 25. Special Report #4: A Statement on Architectural Research by the AIA
(1947): 25–39.
means chosen to disseminate research findings 6. Robert W. McLaughlin, Architect: Creating Man’s Environment (New Committee of Research. The AIA Archives, Box 311S, Washington, DC.
shaped a different conception of what architectural York: McMilllan Company, 1962), p. 118. p. 1.

63 SACHS
26. Expanded Program. The AIA Archives Box 199S, Washington, DC, 34. AIA. The American Institute of Architects Research Survey ronmental Design Archives, University of California, Berkeley. Records of
p. 12. (Washington, DC: American Institute of Architects, 1973), p. 1. the College of Environmental Design, Office of the Dean William W.
27. AIA, Committee on the Structure of the Institute, ‘‘Foreword Con- 35. Letter to Mr. Walter Campbell, Chairman, AIA Research Committee, Wurster Collection, Berkeley, CA.
cerning Facts of Report of the Committee on the Structure of the Insti- dated February 26, 1959. Records of the College of Environmental 41. College of Architecture and Design Memorandum (The Research
tute,’’ The AIA Bulletin (January 1946), p. 1–2. Design. Office of the Dean William W. Wurster Collection, Environmental Laboratory). A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture 1 Urban Plan-
28. The Plan of Research for the American Institute of Architects (Sep- Design Archives, University of California, Berkeley, CA. ning (University of Michigan), Records 1878–1999, Bentley Historical
tember 8, 1959). The AIA Archives, Box 410S, Washington, DC, p. 4–5. 36. Geiger, Research and Relevant Knowledge: American Research Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.
29. Memorandum Re: Organization and Functioning of Department of Universities Since World War II (New York: Oxford University Press, 42. The Architectural Research Laboratory and its Future Development.
Education and Research, AIA. The AIA Archives Box 442S, Washington, 1993). Ibid.
DC, p. 1 (February 1, 1947). 37. Only one architecture faculty member went on record with outright 43. Research Project: Unistrut School Construction Project M811. C.
30. Letter to Mr. Walter A. Taylor, Director, Department of Education and opposition, but many of the practicing architects in the Bay Area raised Theodore Larson Papers, 1930–1985 (bulk 1951–1974), Bentley Histor-
Research, AIA from William W. Caudill, p. 1. their voices. Minutes of Faculty Meeting 10 February 8:15 AM, Cork ical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.
31. Avigail Sachs, ‘‘Marketing through Research: William Caudill and Room. Records of the College of Environmental Design, Dept. of Archi- 44. Nancy Ruth, Bartlett, More than a Handsome Box: Education in
Caudill Rowlett Scott (CRS),’’ Journal of Architecture 14, no. 1 (2009): tecture Faculty Minutes 1957–1981 Collection, Environmental Design Architecture at the University of Michigan 1876-1986 (Ann Arbor, Uni-
737–52; Paolo, Tombesi, ‘‘Capital Gains and Architectural Losses: The Archives, University of California, Berkeley, CA. versity of Michigan College of Architecture and Urban Planning, 1995),
Transformative Journey of Caudill Rowlett Scott (1948–1994),’’ The 38. Policy Statement on Architectural Research for the Department of pp. 81–83.
Journal of Architecture 11, no. 2 (2006): 145–68; Research as a Com- Architecture of the University of California, January 1959. Records of the 45. Report for October 1957. A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture
petitive Positioning Strategy: A Case Study of CRS, 85th Annual Confer- College of Environmental Design, Office of the Dean William W. Wurster 1 Urban Planning (University of Michigan), Records 1878–1999, Bentley
ence Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, Collection, Environmental Design Archives University of California, Ber- Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.
March 15–18, 1997. keley, CA, p. 7. 46. Letter to the Members of the ACSA Research and Graduate
32. Stephen Kieran, ‘‘Research in Design: Planning Doing Monitoring 39. Memo to: Faculty, Department of Architecture, From: Sami Hassid, Studies Committee: Professors Gourley, Hanson, Nichols and
Learning,’’ JAE 61, no. 1 (2007): 27–31. Chairman, Research Committee, Ezra Ehrenkrantz, Research Coordinator, Wurster dated December 18, 1950. Records of the College of
33. CRS Memorandum to Tom Bullock and William Pena from William W. Subject: Yearly Report to Faculty, dated May 20, 1960. Ibid. Environmental Design. Office of the Dean William W. Wurster
Caudill, dated October 9, 1959 Re: Research Program. Caudill Papers, CRS 40. The Graduate Program in Architecture A Report to the Faculty of the Collection, Environmental Design Archives University of California,
Archives, CRS Center, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX. College of Architecture by the Graduate Program Committee, p. Envi- Berkeley, CA.

The Postwar Legacy of Architectural Research 64