Louisville Modernism Critical Regionalism 1950-1980-Transcription Grant 02

  • Luhan, Gregory (PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


This oral history transcription grant proposal will complete the transcriptions of oral history interviews conducted by Professor Gregory A. Luhan and Amelia Armstrong conducted between 01 January 2002 and March 01 2004 with funding in part by the Kentucky Oral History Commission and the University of Kentucky, College of Design - Department of Historic Preservation. A previous oral history transcription grant funded by KOHC has allowed us to transcribe 25 interviews of the 52 interviews. This proposal will enable us to complete the transcriptions. Louisville Modernism - Critical Regionalism, 1950-1980 The traditional registers for architecture are writing, drawing, modeling, and building. The intention of these registers is to provide the general public with a critical insight into the designers and the design processes they use to shape our built environment. Often though, due to economic, time, or other constraints, architects do not write, they do not model, and their drawings are stored improperly, discarded, or destroyed. As a result buildings are often the only link to the design process. Building as Register Today two legacies of modernism--buildings and architects--are disappearing fast. Modern buildings are being razed giving way to new construction, which removes the first register of the architect's creative endeavor. The Historic Landmarks Commission is struggling to record through drawings, surveys, and photographs, these historic structures before their destruction. The last major push to survey these historic structures in Kentucky was in 1979. The purpose of that survey project was to document architecture built prior to and at the turn of the twentieth century. Architect as Register The architects in practice from 1950 to 1980 are now between the ages of 70-90 years old. Several major figures have passed away since the early 1990s. One prime example, Jasper Ward, a pivotal figure in Louisville Modernism, passed away only days before my scheduled interview. With him, an entire legacy and ideology ceased. He did not write. He taught by example. He did not model. He left his buildings to be the best representation of his work. In his death we lost his general sense of being, his creative insights, and his passion for architecture that extant examples of his architecture can only begin to convey. Necessity for the Oral Interview Kentucky architects during the modern period generally did not write or promote themselves and little is known about their work. The primary purpose ofthis oral history project is to learn from the interviewees how buildings and architects link. I am interested in the interaction between artifact and designer and how the designers became a vital part of the modern cultural legacy of Louisville, Kentucky. By conducting these interviews, the architects themselves, will reveal the human equation in design and will also identify the focus of our future research projects. Current Research These interviews will provide a great deal of information for my research projects on Louisville architecture. My investigations fall into four themes from which both general publications and national presentations will emerge. First, a guidebook of Louisville architecture for which I am the lead author, entitled The Louisville Guide (co-written with Dennis Domer and David Mohney), to be published by Princeton Architectural Press (due for release August 2004) Second, the architects - a book that focuses on John Bickel, FAlA and his respective offices, Norman Sweet, and Jasper Ward Third, a survey, analysis, and photo-documentation of the Modern House in Kentucky and on ModernArchitecture in Louisville from1930- 1980, and Fourth, presentations, and articles to the Society of Architectural Historians, ACADIA, and ACSA-Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture National Meetings My long-term research project, augmented by these oral histories will increase our understanding of the cultural history of Kentucky, especially its recent architecture. These interviews will identify key figures that have shaped our local physical and cultural environment, our educational processes, and our 'modern' ways of living. It is the beginning of a life-long research agenda that ultimately may bring Kentucky architecture and in particular, this overlooked era, back into prommence.
Effective start/end date6/1/043/31/05


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