• The Architectural Models of Theodore Conrad: The "Miniature Boom" of Mid-Century Modernism
    Teresa Fankhänel
    Bloomsbury, 2021
    Teresa Fankhänel

Theodore Conrad and a model of the Reynolds Metals Building in Richmond, Virginia.

Based on the recent discovery of his fully-preserved private archive—models, photos, letters, business files, and drawings—this book tells the story of Theodore Conrad (1910–1994), the most prominent and prolific architectural model-maker of the 20th century. Conrad's innovative models were instrumental in the design and realization of many icons of American Modernism-from the Rockefeller Center to Lever House and the Seagram Building. He revolutionized the production of architectural models and became a model-making entrepreneur in his own right. Yet, despite his success and the well-known buildings he helped to create, until now little has been known about Conrad's work and his impact on 20th century architectural history. With exclusive access to Conrad's archive, as well as that of model photographer Louis Checkman—both of which have lain undiscovered in private storage for decades—this book examines Conrad's work and legacy, accompanied by case studies of his major commissions and full-color photographs of his works. Set against the backdrop of the surge in model-making in the 1950s and 1960s—which Jane Jacobs called “The Miniature Boom”—it explores how Conrad's models prompt broader scholarly questions about the nature of authorship in architecture, the importance of craftsmanship, and about the translation of architectural ideas between different media. The book ultimately presents an alternative history of American modern architecture, highlighting the often-overlooked influence of architectural models and their makers.

Teresa Fankhänel is a curator and writer. She has worked, in various capacities, in exhibition making for more than ten years, first as a curatorial assistant at the German Architecture Museum (DAM) in Frankfurt where she co-created the exhibition The Architectural Model, (2012) together with curator Oliver Elser. Most recently she was a curator at the Architekturmuseum der TUM, where she created two large-scale shows, African Mobilities (2018, together with curator Mpho Matsipa) and The Architecture Machine (2020–21). Aside from her work as a curator, Fankhänel has been an assistant professor at the department of architectural history and curatorial practice at the architecture school of the Technical University of Munich since 2017.