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Diagrammatic Practices: The Office of Frederick L. Ackerman and "Architectural GraphicStandards"Author(s): Paul EmmonsSource: Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 64, No. 1 (Mar., 2005), pp. 421Published by: University of California Press on behalf of the Society of Architectural HistoriansStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25068122 .Accessed: 18/02/2014 15:39Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at ms.jsp.JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.University of California Press and Society of Architectural Historians are collaborating with JSTOR todigitize, preserve and extend access to Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians.http://www.jstor.orgThis content downloaded from on Tue, 18 Feb 2014 15:39:00 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Copyright by the University of California Press. Emmons, P. (2005). Diagrammatic practices - the office of frederickl. ackerman and architectural graphic standards. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 64(1), 4-21.doi: 10.2307/25068122PracticesDiagrammaticThe Officeof Frederickand ArchitecturalL. ington-AlexandriaVirginiaThe handbook Architectural Graphic Standards wasfirst published in 1932, the same year and in thesame city that the exhibition The InternationalStyle opened atThe MuseumThecoincidenceofin moderncationthesetwoarchitecturalofModerneventsArt inNew York.underscorespracticethe bifurbetweenappearanceand function. Whilethe show emphasized formal composito the exclusion of the role of function, thetional principlesspecified that it contained only factual information"purposely devoid of aesthetic expression."1 Although themanualdesignapproachacceptedasthe wayadvocatedmodernguides,Graphic Standards,toattemptedisolateishandbooksit wasis practiced,architecturealways so. Architecturalmanyin currentnotas the first ofconstructionaldesign decisions. Itsbroad acceptance by the profession can be traced throughthe manual's own history (Figure 1). Born in the very parit drew on theticular practice of Frederick Ackerman,and functionalfacts from aestheticemphatic cultural critique by Thorstein Veblen. Architectural Graphic Standards, perceived today as a benign reference,wasconceivedas arevolutionaryarchitecturaltreatise,a manifesto.FrederickPolytechnicInstituteCenter,and State UniversityLewis Mumford,and others, he worked for socially responsible planning, design, and financing of community housing,2 Born inNew York State, Ackerman received a degreein architecture from Cornell Universityin 1901 and, aftertwo years of architectural study in Paris, returned to developa successful architectural practice inNew York City.3 From1906 to 1920, he was in partnership with Alexander Trowbridge, architect and dean of the College of Fine Arts atCornell.4 The firm designed numerous houses as well ascommercial and institutional buildings. The office's largestproject was the Brooklyn Central YMCA, seen at the timeas embodying progressive social programs.5 Withsupportfrom Charles Whitaker,the progressive editor of the Journal of theAmerican Institute ofArchitects, Ackerman made aindetailed survey of the housing and planning movementsEngland, particularly government war housing prior to theAmerican involvement inWorld War I.6 During the war,of Housing andAckerman became chief of the DepartmentstaffPlanning of the U.S. Shipping Board. Ackerman'slater a partner of Stein. After the war,included Wright,Ackerman proposed a peacetime national public housingprogram,knownas the AckermanPlan, which was ultimately rejected by Congress.Ackerman returned to architectural practice in 1921 asa sole practitioner. His work was primarily housing, rangingLee Ackermanis best remembered for(1878-1950)in the Regional Planning AssociationofwithClarenceStein, Henry Wright,(RPAA);Frederick Ackermanfromhis odationstoprivateestatesandfor Cornell University.7 Ackerman worked withon houses for Sunnyside Gardens,and WrightThis content downloaded from on Tue, 18 Feb 2014 15:39:00 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

lived in an apartment directly belowrated with her iasticandotherto fter Worldhisreflectedtopics,I,enthuof tJ?ecorafors,8nx?neers,J3u?lderscoinedand2) raffs menand social critic ThorsteintheVeblen(1857-1929)in mers,immigrantcritique of leisure-class spending motivated for display.12 Contrary to Adam Smith's economic theory, Veblen held thatfeto thetribute"thepriceconindividual choices did not automaticallyself-interestedGEORGE RAMSEY, ALASLEEPER, ALA.REEVE.CHARLESHAROLDson ofNorwegianTheforVeblencommonVeblengood.as o valapproachuation that was manipulatedby business and financial interests.wereTheseinterestsvestedthe rational machinerytheirwasgoaleraltheinterestofin inherentof industrial productionof wealthacquisitionwithconflictratherbecausethanthe gensociety.the prevailing model of the "economic man"presumed that work is irksome, Veblen identified a quasiaesthetic "instinct of workmanship" that leads people to findfutility and inefficiency distasteful and improvement janintorialHarold ReeveSleeper,ArchitecturalGraphic StandardsandRamsey(New York, 1932)Queens, New York, and community buildings for Radburn,New Jersey, two planned communities informed by gardencity principles. Ackerman's First Houses project of 1935 inNew York City, described as the first publicly financed housdemolishingenhancedwithsunlightarticles, sivelyincluderegulations,existing buildings byto create 122 rIn numerousspace.8thanacceptingthem, because they already determined major aspects of aproject such as housing density.9 As Harold Sleeper laterdescribed it, Ackerman's office had "an atmosphere wherearchitecturewaspracticedas a socialservice."10Bythe1930s,Ackermanjoined theNew York City Housing Authority andit toward technical research and progressive projects.11 At this time Ackerman and his wife, Mary Lin ctintoa ratioera,the stentathetious leisure class, Veblen proposed the disinterested technician who, following the certainty of facts, would work forthegeneralThegood.productiona commercialwithoutin atrainedwithandof partialitydescribedanthanendowedevensharealso withfor the rule of tageand Let Live."15 linterest.14ofspiritwasengineerdigm of this expert for oStates, revitalizedevery third tenementcharacteristicdefiningIn the newitems.usefulof workmanshipnal,ing in the Unitedahumanity. In what he identified as the craft era, the instinctof workmanship was fulfilled by skilfully making raw mate1 Title page of the first edition of Charles GeorgeFigurewasworkVeblen,partofthe mechanismofthe emerging worldwideindustrial production system. Hebelieved that an economic revolution in the United Statesbe the work of professionals united in a "soviet oftechnicians" and often hinted that itwould be arriving soon.would"So sharply definedthatneers],tionoftheirasufficientlyforcesof course."16Inulatedforpricesand gethatthebyis their class [engiandinclusiveorganizaitselfalmostas a mattercaptainsrestrictingDIAGRAMMATICThis content downloaded from on Tue, 18 Feb 2014 15:39:00 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditionsof financemanipproductionPRACTICESeven5

The Facts Behind TECHNOCRACYHow Man'sUseGrowingof EnergyIs RevolutionizingBy FREDERICKL ACKERMAN,LifeHis SocialF.A.I.A.of Looki. Two WaysMr. AckermanIntroducingandmovevogueof thetheoryextraordinarying at HistorymentcalledTechnocracyhasledtoa greatdealALL not attempta dictionary onIntheInterestof veThisi?thefirtt.article?.Mr.Ackermanita distingu?.h.dNewYorkarchitect.He ita tColumbiaofaftera periodinParit.thehehatdestudyare Among manybuildingtandseveralcolY.M.C.A.,tignod theBrooklynoHe it a Fellowof theAmericanappropriationlegostructures.i particulargroup.I iInstituteofArchitects,anda memberofmanyproandscientificsocieties.thewarheish to l.C under*xkI ; upport fessionalDuringasChiefof tatesBoard,DesignShippingonespeakingfor any but inys?lf.The directingthebuildingof severalmodeleommunitiet.factsof thissubject,how He elywatnotadoptedever,arcnot themonopolyof acyson or group,and theywill not In year)grewoutof an informalgroupof scientistswhichgravitated' a.togetherabout atsociationhumandiffer andeconomistsupsetby any ncetonthe th thegrowtho: lumbiaandothert.Scott(Schol.,Feb.4, p. 24)watthetechnologyand its effects on man'of theadmavalof thegroup.socialami economiclife.They canb chieforganiierTechnocInthespringof 1932,withtherenewalof interett Thedi isioninunderstoodbvmv intelligentbov o:it I,thatineconomiccautedby depression,the itsdeathblowproblemsabandontheus.girl. I shall of the wordTechnocracyin trialEnDepartmentis hasty,conclusionmainderof thisarticleanddevotemvof Columbiaofferedit office astudenttgineeringUnivertityof the subjectandunemployedself to a simpleexplanationof thes. tpaco,werefurnithedarchitect?by mmit)?to prepare lhungraphicdevelopmentTheScientificPointof ViewdredAmericanindustries.At one timemen believedthat :a growingLateinJanuary,divisionof opinionof themovemir ledamongsomeof the leaderstothewithdrawalof fourof thechiefmembthan a light iMr.Ackerman,ProfessorWalter !eludingxperiment: strauch,BattettandLeon"from thisbasisJonet,Henderson,he let twoobj. of diffecutweightfall fromthe not satinedmerelyandlued thatthevfell a. believe:distanantedto know;and? found?a methodof exactlookingat thingsIT'SALWAYS esttheirhope!,25.8alwayiit atelybuyingIn1920.ittook 2.33forinstance,wheatfromanAmericanifarmer:in 1932,44cents.Andthinkof ron!saidabouttheeverythingLiraYen.andalPound,\920f 2.33Thecopporon degreeon sameinMexico,or Kamchatka,in IAfghanistan,or500B.C.Otherunittof onergy,Joule.F Erg,orHortePower,canallbo ttatedintermipound,FigureMan's2 PageGrowingone of Frederick Ackerman,Useof Energyathough industry could create virtually unlimited supply ofeconomic collapse of 1929theVeblenanticipatedgoods,andStates struggled withsion,Asit unnecessary.deemedembracedmanypeopleacrossthe Unitedthe impact of the economicVebleniansocial and industrial controladvocatingtechnocracy,by technicalbenefit of society.Ackerman likely first met Veblendepresexperts for theSchool ofshortly after the latter's arrival inNew Yorkin 1919 and was brought into Veblen's circle to helpSocial ians.17AccordingAckerman wasto his friend and colleague Lewis Mumford,"the most persistent and understanding disciple that Vebleneveracquired.Indeed,Ackerman'sfollowed closely Veblen's6JSAH/ 64:1,MARCHHis Socialthoughtsoneconomicsown reasoning."18 By 1920, AckHowTechnocracy:1Life (New York, 1933),wasermana memberofthatcommitteeexecutivethewhichthe TechnicalformedwasAlliance,inspired byIn 1932, the year Architectural Graphic Standards waspublished, Ackerman was a founding member of the y,to establishnomicat the NewBehindThe FactsIs Revolutionizingexchangethereplaceoncollaboratedas a factual,ecoquantitativepricearbitrarya surveysystem(Figure2).19 For the rest of his life, Ackerman remained dedicatedto realizing Veblen's vision. In a 1941 letter toMumford,he wrote that he was still "very deeply impressed over howwas. It almost seems as if the wholeright that bird [Veblen]hisworld is now geared to his analysis."20 s content downloaded from on Tue, 18 Feb 2014 15:39:00 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditionstheformationwasa centralo? Architecleaderof

Ackerman'sArchitecturalAfterAckerman's1919,cally specifiand idiosyncraticthoughtVeblen'sEchoingtoViewsof anwrotethat "the price system" leads to buildings "that will be lessinfunctionaldurable, but they will be more olessinwelfare."22Ackermandesire to removeembraced Veblen'sornamentsuperfluousfinancialofcommonto thefromhisin an apparentarchitecture,paradox his own projects throughout the 1920s were priin style. The appearance of his work permarily Georgianhaps explains why it has received little attention in thehistoriesofAmericanmodernthat it restpecuniaryunderminedFor a true modernto althe finalachievementdeciofthe handicraft era as described by Veblen,23 embodying mostclearly the craft manner of the instinct of workmanship.Veblen held that under the handicraft system, price was regonulatedthe Accordingin the .24reflectedlate-modindustry" did leandcommunity"speakingnatedwithonlyand machineera was strongestthe handicraftVeblen,andcost,ern regime of investmentof Veblen'sapogeehandicraft system based on direct laborwith materials prior to thedistorting effects of the price system (Figure 3). In an articleonAckermanarchitecture,Georgiantraditions of craftsmanship that had been built up during thepreceding centuries were still in force as guiding factors. HenialmaterialWhenmeans."25for example,Ackermanin his ecuniarymotivationsand profit by increasing demandWitharchitecture,Georgianforas theaccordinglikeVeblen,architect'smodernto thefactsit, oneof construction.embraced machineinstinctweworking,wasif wesocialstandpoint,tectsand ewroteAckermanleisurestyles,socialofthe machinebethusAckermanthatclass.and Ackermanfrombytheconsideredis sedaprocesssuperior,far createdecoandan harmointoprocesseswouldanythingourbringoutthe past."27as fashionto historicalnotlimmodernismof adopting only the formal appearance of the machine. Themodernpromiseindustry butof workmanshipexemplifyingarchitecturein 1920: "I believe thoroughly that ifcould be lifted out of the control ofprocessconsumptionstyles.could best avoid style as novelty and fashion by making ,predatoryconsumptioninterpretedBucks,of Georgianconceptionabout the small houseanwoodenthrough changingbythe machinegutters were illustrated in Architectural Graphic Standards.Like Veblen, Ackerman rejected stylistic concerns e historicand modetheir knowledgeaskedusedto theirduelarge measure,of materials,sympathetic derick Ackerman's"Thenoted,similarly3 A doorwayFigurerevolutionofintroducingin architecture,somethinghe wrotenew?aironically,fashion;and"gavefashionmay be made the basis of profitable business." Ackermanmade similar criticisms of recent exhibitions of modernDIAGRAMMATICThis content downloaded from on Tue, 18 Feb 2014 15:39:00 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and ConditionsPRACTICES7

is as frequently in violation of theexpression as any work that has goneAckerman'srules of he workexpressTheyter of modernwerethebycharacaggressiveselling."28 ecuniaryofgoalsaestheticsmostmodernas little morearchitecturethanto attemptto eliminateapplied,ledAckerthe"Theof architecture The.presentedin ouranddistressis an endlesscitiessuggestsendlessvarietyobjects of beauty, the dead walls of the sides and backs of theseleft untouchedstructures,the handsbyof crafting building materials. In a 1929 letter toAckerman set out his thought:Mumford,atedindeterminateby the aimsof conspicuouscanonsof the pecuniaryButthe. . .Theunderof a necessityguidance"designer"to his workgologic of machineIn thetechnology.theoflogicBut wethewithHandicraft,Butconsumptionturnsbutthisto acceleratetherate ofupontheturn-overofFor this is all that re,tastebewouldby causalus.30/ 64:1,MARCHmaypowertaste,beFor rcumstancesbeutterlyoutButorthehighlystrange,of whichthatinprinttoday,wereintro1919andafter Ackerman'scontinuedretirement.33as nttherein Ackerman'sinvolvementoffice,35and whilein preparation, Sleeper consistentlyhimself as amember of Ackerman'sidentifiedstronglythearticlesandfirmhe wrote.36intellectualinfluence on the handbookisin his introductionsincluded in the original accepted book proposal were produced for Ackerman's projects in his office (Figure 4); theywere later revised and publishedin the first edition ofbyis equipped to offer in this field.wouldpracticeto the three editions produced during his lifetime, texts that provided the visionarybasis of the publication. Significantly, the four sample sheetsof salesmanshipandIndemonstratedsustainedstyleat leastfirmAckerman'sis deadis not.infirst edition wasin ,logicbetheir drafting skill by copying a sheetfrom Graphic Standards. The book proposal emphasized ks,executed.34deemedat crossotherman'slogic of posesbemaya dof machinelogicconspicuoustimeareruns at crosshandicraftand. . . Thissalesmanship.Graph

The handbook Architectural Graphic Standards was first published in 1932, the same year and in the same city that the exhibition The International Style opened at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. The coincidence of these two events underscores the bifur cation in modern architectural practice between appearance and function. While the show emphasized formal composi tional principles to .

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