• Echo's Chambers: Architecture and the Idea of Acoustic Space
    Joseph L. Clarke
    University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021
    Joseph L. Clarke

Pierre Patte, Model theater from Essai sur l’architecture théatrale, 1782

A room’s acoustic character seems at once the most technical and the most mystical of concerns. Since the early Enlightenment, European architects have systematically endeavored to represent and control the propagation of sound in large interior spaces. Their work has been informed by the science of sound but has also been entangled with debates on style, visualization techniques, performance practices, and the expansion of the listening public. Echo’s Chambers explores architectural experimentation from the seventeenth through the mid-twentieth centuries. It focuses on the role of echo and reverberation in the architecture of Pierre Patte, Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, Carl Ferdinand Langhans, and Le Corbusier, as well as the influential acoustic ideas of Athanasius Kircher, Richard Wagner, and Marshall McLuhan. The book shows how architecture has impacted the ways we continue to listen to, talk about, and creatively manipulate sound in the physical environment.

Joseph L. Clarke is an assistant professor of art history at the University of Toronto. His essays and reviews have appeared in Frieze, Future Anterior, Grey Room, Log, The Journal of Architecture, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Perspecta, and Triple Canopy. He holds a doctorate from Yale University, and was awarded the Graham Foundation’s 2012 Carter Manny Award for doctoral dissertation research. His newest project, on acoustics and communication in large open-plan offices, has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. Clarke is a licensed architect and has worked for Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and Eisenman Architects. Previously he was an assistant professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology.