The advent of modernism in the 1920s marked the beginning of a decades-long disconnect between the practice of architecture and the study of architectural history. Driven by the fallacy that a new architecture could be built upon a tabula rasa and cleansed of the Western canon, practitioners sought explicitly to reject history, severing design from its roots and positing theoretical and political positions as substitutes for aesthetic goals.

In 1938, just fifteen years after Le Corbusier proclaimed “architecture or revolution,” major architecture schools began their makeovers and European modernists—like Walter Gropius at Harvard and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology—took the helm. This transformation of the academy came at a time of diminishing opportunities for architects. When opportunities did arise, the...


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