טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentMaya Weissman-Ilan
SubjectThe Cinematic Architect
Key changes in the representation of the Architect
in American narrative cinema since the
beginning of the 20th century
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisor Full Professor Aravot Iris
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


Abstract

The cinematic image of the architect fascinated me long before my first steps in architecture school. I contemplated the wealth of interpretations from the romantic Howard Roark in The Fountainhead[1], through juror number eight in Twelve Angry Men[2], Paul Newman’s multifaceted character in The Towering Inferno[3], the lost architect in The Tree of Life[4], and others.

In the years 1930-2012, the architect image as a main plotline character appeared in mainstream Hollywood popular cinema[5] 82 times. The notion of consolidating a cinematic anthology from these diverse cinematic images arose as I was reading Foucault[6], and realized discourse exists everywhere, leaving its mark on the most unexpected mediums[7], waiting to be revealed. That was an opportunity to embark on a journey to recount the tale of the architectural discipline through its cinematic portrayals and ask: can a profile of transformation be traced within the architect characters portrayed on screen? What relations can be identified between these cinematic images and those evident in disciplinary architectural discourse?

The research arranges images of cinematic architects chronologically, and uncovers its evolution throughout the years, a narrative with several points of change in the representation of the architect. These transformational intersections, serve as motivators to deepen and investigate a specific film/s within the context of disciplinary architectural discourse at a suited timeline[8]. This objective is accomplished using narrative-based qualitative research, combining aspects of Foucauldian discourse analysis, and Hayden White’s approach to Historiography and Historiophoty.

The research process led to three papers. The first surveys the architect’s cinematic image in the United States in the years 1930-2012. Analysis of findings aims to find patterns in cinematic discourse, and a visual analysis tool was developed. The second paper investigates the influential implicit and explicit discourse statements imbedded in The Fountainhead[9]. The third paper investigates the relation between cinematic discourse and architectural discourse through the notions of Historiography and Historiophoty in The Towering Inferno[10].

The research demonstrates correlations between cinematic and architectural discourses, as related to patterns of the changing architect image. It expands the basis for a discussion that may prove invaluable to the architectural discipline, undergoing myriad transformations in recent decades, and to modern-day architects, necessitating profound contemplation.

The thesis provides a new approach to comparative study of cinema and professional literature about architecture, and a contribution to further understanding of the interactions between these fields.




[1] (Rand and Vidor 1949)

[2] (Lumet 1957)

[3] (Guillermin 1974)

[4] (Malick 2011)

[5] Referring to the genre of classical Hollywood commercial fiction.

[6] “Discourse is no longer much more than the shimmering of a truth about to be born in its own eyes; and when all things come eventually to take the form of discourse?” (Foucault, 1971. pp. 228).

[7] Foucault gives an example of a doctor’s prescription as a valid discourse statement.

[8] Time parameters of this investigation take into consideration the period and duration of film production until its screen release. The architectural discourse is examined in the years preceding film release.

[9] (Rand and Vidor 1949)

[10] (Guillermin 1974)