Special Issue: Corruption
Editor: Adam Jasper
We understand corruption in a broad sense, including bureaucratic corruption, stylistic decadence and the inevitable decay of physical materials.
The New York City 1916 Zoning Resolution was designed in order to ensure light reached the streets of Manhattan. It dictated massing at certain heights in a way that shaped the signature New York skyscraper up until the Second World War. In 1961, the successful example of the 1958 Seagram Plaza lead city authorities to rewrite the laws to encourage developers to create public places in exchange for extra height, and the form of the skyscraper changed again. Inside the building, the appearance and materials of office furniture also transformed in response to accelerations in tax depreciation. The privately owned public spaces that Seagram Plaza engendered include Zuccotti Park, that—thanks to ambiguities regarding police responsibilities—became the site of the 2011 Occupy Wall Street protests. According to the New York Times, in 2012 the Seagram Building had the lowest energy star rating of any structure in New York (at three out of a hundred), making it now illegal to build. Rules, whether adhered to or circumvented, shape cities.
The stories told about architecture rarely revolve around legislation, planning laws, tax rules, price fixing cartels or safety restrictions; but these forces form our designs no less than culture, landscape or style. We are interested in the way in which such restrictions both compromise the autonomy of architecture and act as a creative stimulus.
Corruption goes far beyond stories of crooked developers (although they are worth pursuing). We are interested in all perversions of due process, from the distortions of architectural competitions through to subtle conflicts of interest. As the competing demands of developers, governing bodies and insurers encroach ever further on architecture’s autonomy, pragmatists move from the manipulation of form to the manipulation of institutions, or, to use a formulation by Henry-Russell Hitchcock, the architecture of genius becomes the architecture of bureaucracy.
We are interested in the choreography of regulators, speculators and conspirators, and the subversive prestidigitation of invisible hands. We want to understand enterprise at the margins of the law. Most importantly, we want to understand how practice embodies theory, and how theory accommodates to practice.
Architectural Theory Review, founded at the University of Sydney in 1996
and now in its twentieth year, is the pre-eminent journal of architectural theory in the Australasian region. Published by Taylor & Francis in print and online, the journal is an international forum for generating, exchanging, and reflecting on theory in and of architecture. All texts are subject to a rigorous process of blind peer review.
Enquiries about this special issue theme, and possible papers, are welcome, please email the editor, Adam Jasper: adamjasper[at]gmail.com
The deadline for the submission of completed manuscripts is Monday, 30 March 2015. Please submit manuscripts via the journal’s website: http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/ratr
When uploading your manuscript please indicate that you are applying for this special issue, for example: vol. 20.2 – Corruption.
Manuscript submission guidelines can be found at: www.tandfonline.com/action/authorSubmission?journalCode=ratr20&page=instructions