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FACULTY Faculty

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Sandy Isenstadt
Professor and Director of Graduate Studies
History of Modern Architecture
Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Delaware
206 Mechanical Hall
Newark, DE 19716
302-831-8020

Biography

Professor Sandy Isenstadt teaches the history of modern architecture, concentrating on developments in Europe and the United States, but including as well courses on the global spread of modernism. His writings span post-World War II reformulations of modernism by émigré architects such as Richard Neutra, Josep Lluis Sert, and Henry Klumb; visual polemics in the urban proposals of Leon Krier and Rem Koolhaas; and histories of American refrigerators, picture windows, landscape views, and real estate appraisal.

The Modern American House: Spaciousness and Middle-Class Identity, published by Cambridge University Press in 2006, describes the visual enhancement of spaciousness in the architectural, interior, and landscape design of American domestic architecture. Modernism and the Middle East. Politics of the Built Environment, a set of edited essays published in 2008 by the University of Washington Press, is the first book-length treatment of modern architecture in the Middle East. Current projects include "Electric Modernism," a study of the cultural reception of electric lighting, moving in scale from handheld flashlights and automobile headlamps to homes, the workplace, schools, and shops, to building exteriors and city skylines; and "The Rise and Fall of Modern Shopping," a short book focusing on the spatial infrastructure of shopping as it changed from the Renaissance through today.

His work has been recognized with fellowships from the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, N.J., the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, in Washington, D.C. Before teaching architecture, he practiced architecture in Cambridge, Mass.

 

 

Electric Light: An Architectural HistoryIsenstadt, SandyMIT PressCambridge, MA2018http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/electric-light<p>In this book, Sandy Isenstadt examines electric light as a form of architecture—as a new, uniquely modern kind of building material. Electric light was more than just a novel way of brightening a room or illuminating a streetscape; it brought with it new ways of perceiving and experiencing space itself. If modernity can be characterized by rapid, incessant change, and modernism as the creative response to such change, Isenstadt argues, then electricity—instantaneous, malleable, ubiquitous, evanescent—is modernity's medium. Isenstadt shows how the introduction of electric lighting at the end of the nineteenth century created new architectural spaces that altered and sometimes eclipsed previously existing spaces. He constructs an architectural history of these new spaces through five examples, ranging from the tangible miracle of the light switch to the immaterial and borderless gloom of the wartime blackout. He describes what it means when an ordinary person can play God by flipping a switch; when the roving cone of automobile headlights places driver and passenger at the vertex of a luminous cavity; when lighting in factories is seen to enhance productivity; when Times Square became an emblem of illuminated commercial speech; and when the absence of electric light in a blackout produced a new type of space. In this book, the first sustained examination of the spatial effects of electric lighting, Isenstadt reconceives modernism in architecture to account for the new perceptual conditions and visual habits that followed widespread electrification.<br></p>
Cities of Light: Two Centuries of Urban IlluminationIsenstadt, SandyMargaret Maile Petty, and Dietrich Neumann, eds.RoutledgeNew York2015https://www.routledge.com/Cities-of-Light-Two-Centuries-of-Urban-Illumination/Isenstadt-Maile-Petty-Neumann/p/book/9781138813922<p> <em>Cities of Light</em> is the first global overview of modern urban illumination, a development that allows human wakefulness to colonize the night, doubling the hours available for purposeful and industrious activities. Urban lighting is undergoing a revolution due to recent developments in lighting technology, and increased focus on sustainability and human-scaled environments. <em>Cities of Light </em>is expansive in coverage, spanning two centuries and touching on developments on six continents, without diluting its central focus on architectural and urban lighting. Covering history, geography, theory, and speculation in urban lighting, readers will have numerous points of entry into the book, finding it easy to navigate for a quick reference and or a coherent narrative if read straight through. With chapters written by respected scholars and highly-regarded contemporary practitioners, this book will delight students and practitioners of architectural and urban history, area and cultural studies, and lighting design professionals and the institutional and municipal authorities they serve.<br></p>
The Modern American House: Spaciousness and Middle-Class IdentityIsenstadt, SandyCambridge University PressCambridge2014http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/arts-theatre-culture/architecture/modern-american-house-spaciousness-and-middle-class-identity<p>Sandy Isenstadt examines how architects, interior designers, and landscape designers worked to enhance spatial perception in middle class houses visually. The desire for spaciousness reached its highest pitch where it was most lacking, in the small, single-family houses that came to be the cornerstone of middle class life in the nineteenth century. In direct conflict with actual dimensions, spaciousness was linked to a tension unique to the middle class - between spatial aspirations and financial limitations. Although rarely addressed in a sustained fashion by theorists, practitioners, or the inhabitants of houses themselves, Isenstadt argues that spaciousness was central to the development of modern American domestic architecture, with explicit strategies for perceiving space being pivotal to modern house design. Through professional endorsement, concern for visual space found its way into discussion of real estate and law.<br></p>
Modernism and the Middle East: Architecture and Politics in the Twentieth CenturyIsenstadt, Sandyand Kishwar Rizvi, eds.University of Washington PressSeattle2008http://www.washington.edu/uwpress/search/books/ISEMOD.html<p>This provocative collection of essays is the first book-length treatment of the development of modern architecture in the Middle East. Ranging from Jerusalem at the turn of the twentieth century to Libya under Italian colonial rule, postwar Turkey, and on to present-day Iraq, the essays cohere around the historical encounter between the politics of nation-building and architectural modernism's new materials, methods, and motives.<br></p><p>Architecture, as physical infrastructure and as symbolic expression, provides an exceptional window onto the powerful forces that shaped the modern Middle East and that continue to dominate it today. Experts in this volume demonstrate the political dimensions of both creating the built environment and, subsequently, inhabiting it. In revealing the tensions between achieving both international relevance and regional meaning, Modernism in the Middle East affords a dynamic view of the ongoing confrontations of deep traditions with rapid modernization. Political and cultural historians, as well as architects and urban planners, will find fresh material here on a range of diverse practices.<br></p>

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  • Department of Art History
  • University of Delaware
  • 318 Old College
  • Newark, DE 19716 USA
  • Phone: 302-831-8415
  • arthistory@udel.edu