Carter Manny Award

  • The Psychotechnical Architect: Perception, Vocation, and the Laboratory Cultures of Modernism, 1914–1945
    James Graham

Hugo Münsterberg, The Vocation of the Architect, from Vocation and Learning (The People's University, 1910).

James Graham, Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, is the recipient of the 2017 Carter Manny Writing Award.

The opening decades of the twentieth century saw the marked rise of three interrelated fields—applied psychology, vocational education, and occupational therapy. This dissertation explores the effects of these emerging fields on architectural modernism, as it turned to perceptual science and vocational bureaucracy as a means to judge not just design, but also designers. This took shape especially in a field known as psychotechnics—a parascientific discipline that blended industrial management with applied psychology—as a central, but understudied, legacy of the First World War. This research explores the links between architectural design (in practice and pedagogy) and the emergent bureaucracies of vocational placement and occupational therapy in the Soviet Union, the United States, and Germany, showing the sympathies between psychophysiological research, particularly that of Hugo Münsterberg, and the designs and teaching methods of figures like Nikolai Ladovsky, Moisei Ginzburg, Hannes Meyer, and Lázsló Moholy-Nagy. In the search for a modernism beyond the formal precepts of the modern movement, the architectural laboratory became a central scene of action, grounding architectural production in new models of research that redefined architecture's status as a discipline.

James Graham is a PhD candidate at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. He has degrees in architecture from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Virginia, and a degree in media studies from The New School. Since 2013, he has directed the Columbia Books on Architecture and the City imprint, and is a founding editor of the Avery Review, a journal of critical essays on architecture. His scholarly work has been published in Grey Room, AA Files, Manifest, and the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, among others. He is also editor of And Now: Architecture Against a Developer Presidency (Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, 2017), Climates: Architecture and the Planetary Imaginary (Columbia Books on Architecture and the City and Lars Müller Publishers, 2016), and 2000+: The Urgencies of Architectural Theory (GSAPP Books, 2015).