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Branden Hookway

School of Architecture

Branden Hookway's research deals with planning theory’s interiors, with a focus on office landscaping and architectural theory in the 1970s.The use of methods drawn from planning and the social sciences in architectural education and practice was perhaps the defining point of contention in schools of architecture across North America and Europe in the 1970s. While architects of the postwar era, following the pre-war modernists, largely viewed urban planning as within the discipline of architecture, the 1970s saw a questioning and occasional outright break of that relationship. At Princeton University, for example, the planning department split from the School of Architecture and the PhD program in the School of Architecture shifted focus from planning to history and criticism. A number of factors were at play here: the declining role of the State as patron of postwar rebuilding and planning projects and consequently the decreased availability to architects of State-sponsored projects like low-income housing, schools, and the like; a growing sense that a number of planning initiatives had failed, and a perception that planners were insensitive to the “organic” growth and behavior of cities; and the rise of critical theory in architecture and notions of the “autonomy” of architecture as a cultural practice. This project examines the relationship between the disciplines of architecture and planning in the 1970s through the work of Frank Duffy, a doctoral student at the Princeton School of Architecture who graduated in 1974 and went on to found a firm specializing in office planning. Duffy’s thesis, Office Interiors and Organizations, serves as the focal point of the study. Duffy’s work is of interest here not only in its proposal for a kind of planning with private industry and not the State as its patron, but also in that office landscaping may be viewed as cultural work as much as an instrumental technique, addressing the new theories of management that were transforming contemporary business.

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