Siegfried Kracauer, a cultural theorist and film critic active during the Weimar Republic and then in the United States, was trained as an architect. His theory of the mass ornament is the point of departure in Joan Ockman’s reflection on the architectural spectacle.
Joan Ockman is Distinguished Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. She served as Director of the Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at Columbia University’s GSAPP from 1994 to 2008 and was a faculty member at the school for over two decades. She has also taught at Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Cooper Union, Graduate Center of City University of New York, Berlage Institute, and the State University of New York at Buffalo, where she held an honorary chair in 2007. In 2002 she was a Fellow at New York University’s Center for Advanced Studies.
Ockman’s most recent book is Architecture School: Three Centuries of Educating Architects in North America (MIT Press, 2012). Her award-winning anthologyArchitecture Culture 1943–1968 (Rizzoli, 1993) is now in its fifth printing, and will be reissued in a twentieth-anniversary edition next year. Among other titles she has edited are The Pragmatist Imagination: Thinking about Things in the Making(2000), Out of Ground Zero: Case Studies in Urban Reinvention (2002),Architourism: Authentic, Exotic, Escapist, Spectacular (2005), and the six-volume FORuM Books series (2007–9). Her writing has appeared in many anthologies, catalogs, and journals, including ANY, Architect’s Newspaper, Arquitectura Viva, Artforum, Assemblage, Casabella, Design Book Review, Dissent, Harvard Design Magazine, JSAH, Log, and Metropolis.
Ockman began her career in the 1970s at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York, where she was an editor of Oppositions journal and responsible for the Oppositions Books series.