6 April 2022 -
Tomorrow sees the launch of our new seminar series "Hidden Histories: Gender in Design." The theme to begin the series is ‘Gender in Design Histories: Historiography and Methodology’. DHS Ambassador Alexandra Banister meets Dale Gyure, Ph.D., Professor of Architecture and Chair of the Architecture Department at Lawrence Technological University, to further discuss his research.
Don’t forget you can sign up to the talk – taking place on Thursday 7th April, 7.30pm BST – for free via Eventbrite. This is event is free!
What is your background and how did you develop an interest in design history?
I’m an architectural historian, focusing on nineteenth and twentieth century architecture and design. Originally I trained as an attorney, but in the early 1990s I was bitten by the architecture bug and became obsessed with architecture and design, so I returned to school to embark on a second career. Thinking back on my childhood it made sense; since my father and grandfather were continually remodelling and adding to our house, I unconsciously tuned in to design and construction as an everyday part of life. And my neighbour’s father was a draftsman who had a full set-up in the basement, which fascinated me at the time.
What does your research focus on?
My research focuses on architecture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Currently my work investigates attempts to achieve adequate lighting and ventilation in early twentieth century school buildings, particularly in the United States and Great Britain, and how those health-minded efforts dovetailed with progressive pedagogies and curricula. My secondary area of research involves the trajectory of architectural theory in the United States from the 1930s-1980s, with a particular interest in the immediate postwar era. I’m developing an intellectual history of modern architecture in America in the first three decades after World War II, focusing on the leading critics and historians of the period.
Your talk is part of a wider seminar series on Hidden Histories: Gender in Design, how does this apply to your work?
My talk arises out of research on mid-century architectural theory in general and the career of Minoru Yamasaki in particular. I published a monograph on Yamasaki in 2017, and the material for this talk comes from that project. As I became aware of the critical hostility directed toward Yamasaki as he became more famous, I realized that much of the criticism implied that Yamasaki was designing in a feminine manner. From there my inquiries expanded and I found similar disparagement of other architects who dared to highlight ornamentation or speak about beauty at a time when many thought “modern architecture” had advanced beyond such considerations, or that beauty needed to develop new meanings in the modern world. Although I was conscious of the postwar era’s rampant male chauvinism and homophobia, and the masculine image projected by many leading architects, I didn’t expect such blatantly gendered language; when I began to see connections to rising concerns about popular taste and anxiety about the architecture’s future direction, these gendering episodes became even more intriguing.