• Giedion and America: Repositioning the History of Modern Architecture
    Reto Geiser
    gta Verlag/ETH Zurich, 2018
    Reto Geiser

Sigfried Giedion laying out the Italian edition of Space, Time, and Architecture at the Milanese offices of Ulrico Hoepli, 1961. Photo: A. Ornano. Courtesy of Sigfried Giedion Papers, gta Archives, ETH Zurich.

Paradoxically, Swiss art historian and architecture critic Sigfried Giedion (1888–1968) would only consolidate his reputation as one of the most influential architectural historians of the twentieth century far from his homeland, in America. In his study of Giedion’s life and work Reto Geiser foregrounds the formative character of Giedion’s extended stays in the United States and their role as an inspiring laboratory to propel his scholarship. By challenging the presentation of a continuous line of developments, and revealing the ruptures and contradictions within Giedion’s work, Geiser questions a heroic account of modern architecture, turning instead to the less ideological and frequently overlooked facets of Giedion’s oeuvre. The book argues that, although Giedion’s position in between two cultural spheres created discontinuities in his work, it also facilitated a mutual exchange between the architectural impresario and his North American peers and thereby helped to shape the development and reception of the modern project on either side of the Atlantic.

Reto Geiser is a scholar of modern architecture, with a focus on the intersections between architecture, pedagogy, and media. He is associate professor of architecture and director of undergraduate studies at the Rice University's School of Architecture. Geiser studied architecture at Columbia University and the ETH Zurich (PhD), where his doctoral thesis was awarded the ETH medal of distinction. He is coauthor of Reading Revolutionaries (Benteli, 2014) and editor of award-winning House is a House is a House is a House is a House: Architectures and Collaborations of Johnston Marklee (Birkhäuser, 2016) and Explorations in Architecture (Birkhäuser Architecture, 2008). A founding principal of the collaborative design practice MG&Co., Geiser is developing spatial strategies in a range of scales, from the book, to the house. His current projects include environmental graphics for the Menil Collection in Houston and the Graduate Art Studios at UCLA, and the installation Rooms for Books at the Chicago Architecture Biennial (2017).