The Army Post as Design Laboratory: Experiments in Urban Planning and Architecture, 1917-1948
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CitationBergren, Anna Darice. 2012. The Army Post as Design Laboratory: Experiments in Urban Planning and Architecture, 1917-1948. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
AbstractThis dissertation examines the engagement of civilian designers in United States Army post architecture and planning between 1917 and 1948. During those years, the built environment of the Army was fundamentally transformed, as troops relocated from frontier posts and coastal fortifications to large permanent military bases. First conceived of as “soldier cities,” by the end of World War II these posts had come to resemble garden suburbs. At the same time, the architecture and planning of civilian communities also changed. Turn-of-the-century affection for the industrial city had, by 1920, given way to a preference for suburban living among the upper classes. After World War II, suburbia would become ubiquitous, as federally- supported tract-house developments sprung up around the nation. These changes in civilian and military architecture and planning were, I argue, tightly connected, in part through the movement of civilian designers back and forth between civilian and military commissions. For architects and planners, the Army post was a kind of laboratory in which to experiment with design concepts outside the constraints of the real estate market. For Army officials, meanwhile, the involvement of outside experts in post design helped to convince potential recruits and the public alike that military life was not so different from civilian life. As the built environments of military and civilian America mutually influenced one another, the distinction between the two narrowed, and the Army effectively hid itself in plain sight. I track the exchange between civilian and military design ideals in five chronological chapters, each highlighting a particular episode in Army post design, and each connecting to broader themes in American urban and suburban history. The first two chapters take place during World War I and look at the planning of the Army’s training camps, and the architecture of the YMCA and YWCA buildings therein. The third chapter focuses on the permanent post- building program of the 1920s and 1930s. The fourth chapter recounts the Army’s pre-World War II experiments in prefabrication, and the final chapter examines the re-planning of the atomic town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in 1948.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:10436335
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