Imagining the Modern
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Imagining the Modern : Architecture, Urbanism, and the Pittsburgh Renaissance

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Imagining the Modern explores Pittsburgh's ambitious modern architecture and urban renewal program that made it a gem of American postwar cities, and set the stage for its stature today. In the 1950s and '60s an ambitious program of urban revitalization transformed Pittsburgh and became a model for other American cities. Billed as the Pittsburgh Renaissance, this era of superlatives--the city claimed the tallest aluminum clad building, the world's largest retractable dome, the tallest steel structure--developed through visionary mayors and business leaders, powerful urban planning authorities, and architects and urban designers of international renown, including Frank Lloyd Wright, I.M. Pei, Mies van der Rohe, SOM, and Harrison & Abramovitz. These leaders, civic groups, and architects worked together to reconceive the city through local and federal initiatives that aimed to address the problems that confronted Pittsburgh's postwar development. Initiated as an award-winning exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art in 2014, Imagining the Modern untangles this complicated relationship with modern architecture and planning through a history of Pittsburgh's major sites, protagonists, and voices of intervention. Through original documentation, photographs and drawings, as well as essays, analytical drawings, and interviews with participants, this book provides a nuanced view of this crucial moment in Pittsburgh's evolution. Addressing both positive and negative impacts of the era, Imagining the Modern examines what took place during the city's urban renewal era, what was gained and lost, and what these histories might suggest for the city's future.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 184 x 241 x 33.02mm | 1,406.14g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 275
  • 1580935230
  • 9781580935234
  • 1,816,052

Review quote

In the middle of the last century, Pittsburgh found itself at a crossroads: The city had completely retooled itself as an industrial powerhouse to abet the war effort, but now Steel City had to re-imagine itself anew for the postwar period. Over the next two decades, its private and public sectors built new housing, offices, and public spaces. That Modernist boom--in all its glory, hubris, and conflict--is the focus of Imagining the Modern, an in-depth dive into that era and the buildings that defined it. Richly detailed and full of historic maps, drawings, and photography, it offers a wealth of information for any enthusiast of Modernist architecture or Pittsburgh itself. (It should also be noted that editors Chris Grimley and Michael Kubo helped write Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston.)
--Metropolis, "19 New Architecture and Design Books For Summer 2019"
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About Chris Grimley

Chris Grimley is an architect and designer at OverUnder, an architecture and design firm in Boston, Massachusetts. He has taught at the University of British Columbia, Rhode Island School of Design, Northeastern University, and Wentworth Institute of Technology. He is coauthor of Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston (2015), and the designer and editor of Henry N. Cobb: Words and Works 1948-2018 (2018).
Michael Kubo is Assistant Professor in the History and Theory of Architecture at the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design, University of Houston. He was previously the Wyeth Fellow at the Center For Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, and Associate Curator for the US Pavilion at the 2014 International Architecture Biennale in Venice. He is coauthor of numerous books on twentieth-century architecture and urbanism, including Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston (2015) and OfficeUS Atlas (2015), and is currently preparing a book on The Architects Collaborative and the authorship of the architectural corporation after 1945.
Rami el Samahy is a founding principal at OverUnder. Currently a Visiting Professor at MIT, he has taught at Carnegie Mellon University, Boston University, the Boston Architectural College, and Wentworth Institute of Technology. His research has focussed on a wide variety of urban issues including the contemporary Arab city, the logics of main street retail, and the legacy of urban renewal.
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