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Look Inside The Modern American House

The Modern American House
Spaciousness and Middle Class Identity


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  • Date Published: November 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107675063

£ 28.99

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • Argues and supports polemical and innovative claims regarding the reception of modern architecture in the USA
    • Identifies heretofore unrecognized reciprocal relations between otherwise distinct elite and popular design cultures
    • Innovative in making a history of perception the engine of a history of modern architecture
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    • Winner of the 2009 Spiro Kostof Award

    Reviews & endorsements

    'The book's themes are always intriguing. With its emphasis on viewers' experience of spaciousness rather than architects creating spaciousness, the book fits into recent vernacular architecture studies that examine inhabitation as a primary influence on buildings.' Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians

    'Isenstadt's book shines as a model of interdisciplinary writing … His scholarly thoroughness and rhetorical openness make his work a pleasure to read and contemplate.' The American Historical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107675063
    • length: 344 pages
    • dimensions: 251 x 175 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.82kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: spaciousness, history of a visual effect
    1. The small house era
    2. The production of spaciousness
    3. Spacious interiors
    4. Looking at landscapes
    5. Glass horizons
    6. 'The view it frames': a history of the picture window
    7. Cultivated vistas
    8. The ruler and the eye: the compensations of spaciousness
    9. Conclusion: this excellent dumb discourse.

  • Author

    Sandy Isenstadt
    Sandy Isenstadt is Assistant Professor of Art History at Yale University. A scholar of modern architecture, he has written on the work of Richard Neutra, Josep Lluis Sert, Leon Krier, and Rem Koolhaus. His work has been supported by the Center for Advanced Study of the Visual Arts (National Gallery of Art), the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Graham Foundation.


    • Winner of the 2009 Spiro Kostof Award

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