Carter Manny Award

  • Tectonics of Development: Mineral Extraction and the Architecture of the University-City in South America, 1945–1975
    Giovanna M. Bassi Cendra

Walter Weberhofer, Metallurgy Building, School of Mining Engineering, Geology, and Metallurgy, Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería, 1957-65, Lima, Peru, as it appeared in Memoria anual del Rector (Lima: UNI, 1962). Courtesy the Centro de Historia, Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería

Giovanna Bassi Cendra, Rice University, School of Humanities, Department of Art History, is the recipient of the 2020–21 Carter Manny Research Award.

This dissertation examines the planning, design, and construction of university campuses vis-à-vis the intensification of mineral extraction in South America between 1945 and 1975. Organized around four case studies located in the mineral-rich Chile, Peru, and Venezuela, this study interrogates how architecture in the service of “development” fueled dreams of progress predicated upon the exploitation of mineral commodities, the establishment of related basic industries, the training of experts, and the production of capital. It juxtaposes local histories of modernism with geopolitics, evaluating the pivotal impact that the Cold War-era financial and technical assistance programs of the US government, the Ford Foundation, and multilateral organizations had on these developmentalist architectures. Rethinking the university-city as much more than an aesthetic complex, this study argues that it functioned as the ultimate technology of extractive development—an intellectual and operative node of complex resource-extraction systems that radically altered our planet’s societies, climate, and ecosystems.

Giovanna Bassi Cendra is a PhD candidate at the Department of Art History, Rice University. She studied architecture at Ricardo Palma University in Lima, Peru, and holds a MArch from the Illinois Institute of Technology and a MA in art history from the University of Houston. Adopting an eco-critical lens, her current research interrogates the convergence of the ideology of "development," natural resource extraction, and systems thinking in modern South American architecture during the postwar period. This research has received the support of the Wagoner Foreign Study Scholarship, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Department of Art History, Rice University. Bassi Cendra has received multiple awards, including the Henry Adams Medal (American Institute of Architects, 2006) and the Peter C. Marzio Award for Outstanding Research in 20th-Century Latin American and Latino Art (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2017). Her winning essay was published in the ICAA Documents Project Working Papers (December, 2018).