Architecture of Normal
Birkhäuser, February 2022
Hardcover | 8-1/2 x 11 inches | 456 pages | 450 illustrations | English | ISBN: 9783035624380 | €62
A multimedia exploration of the morphology of architecture in the American Southwest as defined by evolving modes of transportation. In examining advances in transportation, the book asks how we have come to acquiesce to the monotonous, isolating, and aesthetically bankrupt landscape of suburbia. It also casts predictions about how the future built landscape will look as it continues to adapt to patterns of human movement.
Daniel Kaven is an architect and artist in Portland, Oregon. He is a founding partner in the office of William / Kaven Architecture.
On page 244 of Architecture of Normal, in a chapter devoted to cars, architect and artist Daniel Kaven asserts, "Derivatecture had fully arrived." Apparently a neologism of Kaven's and a portmanteau of "derivative" and "architecture," "derivatecture" refers to buildings that are replicas of older buildings. Kaven first mentions the term in an early chapter about his upbringing in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when a younger he noticed that a black-glazed building not far from his home was "an exact replica of an office building that was already standing in Texas." Such an example is quaint compared to the "fully arrived" derivatecture mentioned in the cars chapter: the Alamo Plaza Motor Courts that resembled their namesake. Kaven describes those "mimetic buildings" as the concept for the "hamburger stands, diners, drive-in movies and coffee shops" that would pepper the United States. The "architecture of normal," it appears, is one of branding and communication enabled by the automobile and other modes of transportation over the course of centuries.
at least one article that does corroborate such a label. Still, in the cursory presentation of Kaven's book, the term "socialist architect" is distracting yet also accurate in the way it captures the unfulfilled goals of Gruen's suburban community centers, where shopping was just one element in a mixed-use pedestrian area.
FOR FURTHER READING:
- The American City: From the Civil War to the New Deal by Giorgio Ciucci, et. al. (MIT Press, 1979)
- Native American Architecture by Peter Nabokov and Robert Easton (Oxford University Press, 1988)
- Architecture in the United States by Dell Upton (Oxford University Press, 1998)
- A Field Guide to Sprawl by Dolores Hayden (W. W. Norton, 2004)
- American Architecture: A Thematic History by Dell Upton (Oxford University Press, 2019)