Download the PDF here.

Today manipulations of land are assumed to be out of the hands of architects. Agency over land has been made remote, both historically and professionally. At the scale of the nation, "the land" is mythologized as something that was settled once, a long time ago. In everyday parlance, land equals property, before building is even discussed. But in fact, architecture is a big part of why property is continuously possible. All the while, the canon of "American architecture" is still romanticized as transforming a wild territory into a domesticated nation.

In this booklet, the Buell Center has gathered research which offers a different view of the relationship between architecture and land in and out of the americas. Its purpose is to undermine one of the basic assumptions underlying building culture today: that Land precedes architecture. This assumption rests on a fictional vision of land as an available surface, “a piece” of which has to be secured before anything can be designed or built. This fiction plays a key role in the life of frontier nations. It is particularly essential to the history of architecture and settlement in the United States.

The booklet, released digitally and in print, is now available and at no cost: on-site in Chicago during the installation and on Columbia’s campus at The Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture. 

ALIO cover