Ronald W. Brunskill, architect, conservationist, and teacher, whose many books on English vernacular architecture appealed to a broad audience of students, scholars, and antiquarians in Britain and America, died on October 6, 2015. He was 86 years old. He is survived by his wife Miriam, “Mimi,” and two daughters, Lesley and Robin, and several grandchildren. A man noted for his modest demeanor and exceptional talents, Brunskill was born on January 3, 1929 in Lowton, near Leigh in Lancashire in northwest England. His passion for traditional architecture blossomed early as he walked and bicycled the lanes of the Eden Valley nestled between located between the Lake District in the west and the Pennines in the east. The stone dwellings and farm buildings of this lush rolling landscape captured his imagination. In high school he wrote a prize-winning essay on its early buildings.
Trained as an architect at Manchester University just after World War II, Brunskill also received his MA and PhD from that institution where he studied under the legendary R. A. Cordingley, who pioneered the study of regional architecture and offered him a job in the School of Architecture where he taught from 1960 to 1989. His academic training may have shaped Professor Brunskill’s intellectual perspective, but early encounters with vernacular buildings in the Eden Valley led him to revisit the area in his master’s thesis. This work was eventually expanded and incorporated in Vernacular Architecture of the Lake Counties.
Brunskill was a highly successful missionary and publicist for vernacular architecture. J. T. Smith, the retired principal investigator for Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, described Professor Brunskill’s lectures as “inspiring and beautifully delivered.” He recalled that one of them given in the mid 1960s “aroused the audience’s enthusiasm to a remarkable degree and made even a seasoned practitioner like myself want to rush out and record whatever lay to hand.”
Brunskill remained a practicing architect throughout his career. Following two years in national service, he joined a group of architects at London County Council working on large scale housing projects that helped alleviate post-war shortages in the metropolis. In 1956 he received an architectural fellowship and spent a year at MIT teaching as well as traveling extensively throughout the United States. On his return to England, he took up an architectural post at a bank where he was responsible for the design and upkeep of many branch buildings. He was a partner in the firm of Carter, Brunskill and Associates, which was founded in the late 1960s. The firm did much conservation work as well as new projects in Britain and internationally. On the domestic side, in 1962 he designed a house in Wimslow where he and his wife lived for more than fifty years.
In addition to his academic responsibilities, Dr. Brunskill more than shared his time as a committee member serving as an advisor, reviewer, and leader of numerous architectural, antiquarian, and historical commissions and professional societies. He served as president of the Vernacular Architecture Group, vice-chairman of the Weald and Downland Museum, and was a member of the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, commissioner for six years at English Heritage, and was chairman and president of the Ancient Monuments Society and the Friends of Friendless Churches to name but a few in an exhaustive list of national heritage bodies. He also remained firmly tied to his origins, serving as president of the Cumberland and Westmoreland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, through which he had published his first articles on vernacular architecture many years before.
Ronald Brunskill’s career bounded the Atlantic in ways that have allowed us to claim him as one of our unofficial founders. In 1960 he married Mimi Allsopp from Georgia and that bond that united our two countries gave rise to his deep interests in America over the next half century. During his traveling fellowship in 1956, he visited the newly reconstructed settlement at Jamestown Festival Park with its collection of cruck buildings that demonstrated to him the remarkably limited understanding that Americans had of English vernacular building. Not long to be discouraged, he discovered an affinity in the farm buildings of Pennsylvania and those in his beloved Eden Valley in Westmoreland and Cumberland. From this discovery, he was emboldened to introduce the term “bank barn” to vernacular building in England. In his teaching at Manchester and courses at the University of York, he managed to attract American students including Charles Peterson, one of the founding lights of the Historic American Buildings Survey, and organized several exhibitions in England of HABS work.
Professor Brunskill traveled widely in the United States and met most people who were involved in the study of traditional architecture including Jay Edwards, Abbott Cummings, and Blair Reeves. He was a visiting professor at the University of Florida for a year and also lectured in Virginia and Toronto. Intriguingly, in the late 1960s he met with John Pearce, Rusty Marshall, Richard Candee (another summer students at York in 1968), and others to discuss the establishment of an American organization equivalent to the English VAG but the general consensus was that the time was not yet ripe for such a venture. More than a dozen years later after the VAF was formed, he attended a number of our early meetings including Sturbridge, San Francisco, Santa Fe, and Portsmouth. Even from afar, he continued to keep an eye on the progress of field work in America. He would inquire in his gentle manner about the research that we were doing at Colonial Williamsburg when we attended the VAG spring meetings in the 1980s and 1990s. No mere courtesy, he would often follow up with a letter to see how that work was progressing. Ronald Brunskill received the Henry Glassie Award from the VAF at the 2009 annual meeting in Butte in honor of his long and distinguish career in teaching and the promotion of the study and conservation of vernacular architecture in Great Britain and in this country.
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Richard Longstreth received the Award for Excellence in Architectural Scholarship and Preservation Advocacy at the Society of Architectural Historians 75th Anniversary Gala in Chicago on 6 November. He also received the Award for Excellence by the Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians for the best essay in 2014-15 for "The Continual Transformation of Savannah's Broughton Street," part of his latest book, Looking Beyond the Icons: Midcentury Architecture, Landscape, and Urbanism, published by the University of Virginia Press. Also published, by Rizzoli-Universe, "Road Trip," a collection of color photographs of roadside architecture nationwide taken by him during the late 1960s and 1970s.
Bulldozer: Demolition and Clearance of the Postwar Landscape was published in April 2016 by Yale University Press.
Although the decades following World War II stand out as an era of rapid growth and construction in the United States, those years were equally significant for large-scale destruction. In order to clear space for new suburban tract housing, an ambitious system of interstate highways, and extensive urban renewal development, wrecking companies demolished buildings while earthmoving contractors leveled land at an unprecedented pace and scale. In this pioneering history, Francesca Russello Ammon explores how postwar America came to equate this destruction with progress.
The bulldozer functioned as both the means and the metaphor for this work. As the machine transformed from a wartime weapon into an instrument of postwar planning, it helped realize a landscape-altering “culture of clearance.” In the hands of the military, planners, politicians, engineers, construction workers, and even children’s book authors, the bulldozer became an American icon. Yet social and environmental injustices emerged as clearance projects continued unabated. This awareness spurred environmental, preservationist, and citizen participation efforts that have helped to slow, though not entirely stop, the momentum of the postwar bulldozer.
Member Timothy Kelly recently co-authored with two colleagues, Margaret Power (Illinois Institute of Technology) and Michael Cary (Seton Hill University), Hope in Hard Times: Norvelt and the Struggle for Community During the Great Depression which will be published in June 2016 by Penn State University Press. The book traces the history of a subsistence homestead community built during the Great Depression to house unemployed coal miners and others from Westmoreland County in southwestern Pennsylvania. The community was one of four designed specifically for unemployed coal miners, and aimed to provide dignified lives for those struggling amidst great poverty. The other three communities were located in West Virginia and Tennessee. This history focuses primarily on the years during which the federal government was heavily involved with the community (1934-1946), and one chapter examines the domestic architecture directly.
In the midst of the Great Depression, 250 desperate families in western Pennsylvania joined a federally sponsored program to create a new kind of community. They helped build and then moved into modest homes on generous plots with ample gardens that helped to feed the men, women and children who called Norvelt home. They undertook a great experiment in cooperative living that many hoped would spur similar efforts throughout the country. This book conveys their successes and struggles as they shaped the community that remains vibrant today.
Berkey also encountered several log and Dutch-American frame buildings during her research and devotes a chapter to each in the 208-page volume. More than 230 photographs (many in color), drawings, and maps enrich the text.
Christine O'Malley has been working with Alpha Phi Alpha, the first African-American Greek letter intercollegiate fraternal organization in the US to get the Dennis-Newton house in Ithaca, NY (considered the birthplace of their fraternity) locally designated, which was achieved in 2015. Building on that accomplishment, she is currently working with the NY SHPO to get the structure listed on the National Register for Historic Places. She also helped get the house nominated for the Seven to Save list as a path to stabilize the house for the future. Seven to Save is the Preservation League of New York State list that draws attention to the plight of New York State’s vacant or underused National Historic Landmarks, historic communities prone to flooding, African American cultural heritage, and industrial heritage.
We've added complementary documentation to the 2013 Gaspé-Percé VAF booklets. The photographs and drawings can be accessed via the following web page: http://www.crcprb.chaire.ulaval.ca/en/activities/vernacular-architecture-forum.html
The Vernacular Architecture Forum is seeking nominations for a new co-editor for its acclaimed academic journal Buildings & Landscapes: The Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum. The new co-editor will be named roughly one year in advance of assuming the position to allow for a smooth transition. The editor designee will be expected to follow the editorial process beginning in the summer of 2016 and begin a four-year term as co-editor in June of 2017.
B&L’s two editors work closely with the publisher, the University of Minnesota Press. The terms of the two co-editors are staggered so that every two years one editor rotates off. New co-editors are appointed by the President of the Vernacular Architecture Forum with the approval of the VAF’s Board of Directors. The co-editors hold a joint position on the Board of Directors of the Vernacular Architecture Forum.
Buildings & Landscapes appears in print twice a year as an attractive, large-format journal. Significant attention is paid to the physical appearance of the print journal, which features abundant black-and-white illustrations and high quality paper. Digital on-line access is available through JSTOR, as is a digital supplement that allows enhancements including color illustrations, 3D models, film, and audio. Working with the University of Minnesota Press, the co-editors pay close attention to editing and image quality. Future opportunities include continuing to refine and expand the digital edition of B&L available through JSTOR, which may include experimenting with new media.
B&L editors oversee all aspects of publication: soliciting scholarly contributions (through conferences, word of mouth, and other means); vetting submissions by working with peer reviewers; preparing manuscripts for publication by working closely with authors; coordinating copyediting and page proofs with the University of Minnesota Press; working closely with authors and the B&L image editor on image permissions; and arranging with the review editor for the timely submission and editing of reviews.
The ideal editor will have a strong record of previous publications; a history of involvement with the VAF; editorial experience; and a keen interest in collaborating with other scholars. Institutional support – from the candidate’s academic institution or professional organization – would be beneficial, including funding to support travel to conferences (to solicit contributions to the journal), funding for editorial assistants (such as graduate research assistants), and flex time during the academic year to facilitate editorial work.
Nominations (including self nominations) should include a 1-2 page statement of interest that outlines the candidate’s background and preparedness for this position along with a current CV. Please send nominations (as a single .pdf) to Anna Andrzejewski at firstname.lastname@example.org by June 1, 2016. Inquiries and questions are also welcome.
Abramson, Daniel M. Obsolescence: An Architectural History. Chicago ; London: The University of Chicago Press, 2016.
Aigner, Anita. “Heritage-Making ‘from Below’: The Politics of Exhibiting Architectural Heritage on the Internet – a Case Study.” International Journal of Heritage Studies 22, no. 3 (March 15, 2016): 181–99. doi:10.1080/13527258.2015.1107615.
Allmond, Gillian. “Light and Darkness in an Edwardian Institution for the Insane Poor—Illuminating the Material Practices of the Asylum Age.” International Journal of Historical Archaeology 20, no. 1 (March 2016): 1–22. doi:10.1007/s10761-015-0316-3.
Amsterdam, Daniel. Roaring Metropolis: Businessmen’s Campaign for a Civic Welfare State. American Business, Politics, and Society. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016.
Apotsos, Michelle. Architecture, Islam, and Identity in West Africa: Lessons from Larabanga. New York: Routledge, 2016.
Ara, Dilshad Rahat, and Mamun Rashid. “Between the Built and the Unbuilt in Vernacular Studies: The Architecture of the Mru of the Chittagong Hills.” The Journal of Architecture 21, no. 1 (January 2, 2016): 1–23. doi:10.1080/13602365.2015.1137620.
Birch, Eugenie Ladner, Susan M. Wachter, and Shahana Chattaraj, eds. Slums: How Informal Real Estate Markets Work. The City in the Twenty-First Century. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016.
Bluestone, Daniel. “Charlottesville’s Landscape of Prostitution, 1880–1950.” Buildings & Landscapes 22, no. 2 (Fall 2015): 36–61.
Conner, C. A. “‘The University That Ate Birmingham’: The Healthcare Industry, Urban Development, and Neoliberalism.” Journal of Urban History 42, no. 2 (March 1, 2016): 284–305. doi:10.1177/0096144215623951.
Dainese, Elisa. “Histories of Exchange: Indigenous South Africa in the South African Architectural Record and the Architectural Review.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 74, no. 4 (December 2015): 443–63.
Day, J. N. “Health Care and Urban Revitalization: A Historical Overview.” Journal of Urban History 42, no. 2 (March 1, 2016): 247–58. doi:10.1177/0096144215623949.
Dines, Nick. “Critical Ethnographies of Urban Heritage in the Western Mediterranean Region.” International Journal of Heritage Studies 22, no. 2 (February 7, 2016): 85–88. doi:10.1080/13527258.2015.1110532.
Domin, Christopher, Joseph King, and Ezra Stoller. Paul Rudolph the Florida Houses. New York; Enfield: Princeton Architectural ; Hi Marketing [distributor], 2005. http://books.scholarsportal.info/viewdoc.html?id=/ebooks/ebooks2/springer/2011-02-17/1/1568986475.
Duwe, Samuel, B. Sunday Eiselt, J. Andrew Darling, Mark D. Willis, and Chester Walker. “The Pueblo Decomposition Model: A Method for Quantifying Architectural Rubble to Estimate Population Size.” Journal of Archaeological Science 65 (January 2016): 20–31.
Fisher, Lewis F. Saving San Antonio: The Preservation of a Heritage. San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 2016.
Flynn, Katherine. “A More Perfect Union in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.” Preservation, 2016.
Hart, Emma. Building Charleston: Town and Society in the Eighteenth-Century British Atlantic World. Columbia, South Carolina: The University of South Carolina Press, 2015.
Heller, Gregory L. Ed Bacon: Planning, Politics, and the Building of Modern Philadelphia. 1st ed. The City in the Twenty-First Century. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.
Ingram, Mark. “Emplacement and the Politics of Heritage in Low-Income Neighbourhoods of Marseille.” International Journal of Heritage Studies 22, no. 2 (February 7, 2016): 117–30. doi:10.1080/13527258.2015.1068212.
Jobst, Marko. “Writing Sensation: Deleuze, Literature, Architecture and Virginia Woolf’s The Waves.” The Journal of Architecture 21, no. 1 (January 2, 2016): 55–67. doi:10.1080/13602365.2016.1140671.
Kamin, Blair, ed. Gates of Harvard Yard. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2016.
Keys, Cathy. “Designing Hospitals for Australian Conditions: The Australian Inland Mission’s Cottage Hospital, Adelaide House, 1926.” The Journal of Architecture 21, no. 1 (January 2, 2016): 68–89. doi:10.1080/13602365.2016.1141790.
Laurence, Peter L. Becoming Jane Jacobs. The Arts and Intellectual Life in Modern America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016.
LeCavalier, Jesse. The Rule of Logistics: Walmart and the Architecture of Fulfillment. Minneapolis ; London: University of Minnesota Press, 2016.
Longstreth, Richard W. Looking beyond the Icons: Midcentury Architecture, Landscape, and Urbanism. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2015.
Mímisson, Kristján. “Building Identities: The Architecture of the Persona.” International Journal of Historical Archaeology 20, no. 1 (March 2016): 207–27. doi:10.1007/s10761-015-0322-5.
Mualam, Nir, and Martin Sybblis. “The Functional Threshold of Modern Heritage: Form versus Function and the Struggle over Tel Aviv’s Concert Hall.” International Journal of Heritage Studies 22, no. 2 (February 7, 2016): 145–64. doi:10.1080/13527258.2015.1103299.
Murphy, Kevin. “Viewpoint: Peculiar Places and Strange Guests: Obsolete Resorts in Some Mid-Twentieth Century Children’s Books.” Buildings and Landscapes 22, no. 2 (Fall 2015): 1–17.
Nicoletta, Julie. “Selling Spirituality and Spectacle: Religious Pavilions at the New York World’s Fair of 1964–65.” Buildings & Landscapes 22, no. 2 (Fall 2015): 62–88.
Risse, G. B. “‘Bringing DNA into the Neighborhood’ in San Francisco: A Personal Recollection.” Journal of Urban History 42, no. 2 (March 1, 2016): 346–58. doi:10.1177/0096144215623956.
———. “Conflict or Collaboration: Academic Medical Centers and Their Communities, A Commentary.” Journal of Urban History 42, no. 2 (March 1, 2016): 359–62. doi:10.1177/0096144215623957.
Robertson, Lisa C. “‘We Must Advance, We Must Expand’: Architectural and Social Challenges to the Domestic Model at the College for Ladies at Westfield.” Women’s History Review 25, no. 1 (January 2, 2016): 105–23. doi:10.1080/09612025.2015.1047255.
Rosner, D., and G. Markowitz. “Building the World That Kills Us: The Politics of Lead, Science, and Polluted Homes, 1970 to 2000.” Journal of Urban History 42, no. 2 (March 1, 2016): 323–45. doi:10.1177/0096144215623954.
Rubin, Jasper. A Negotiated Landscape: The Transformation of San Francisco’s Waterfront since 1950. Second Edition. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016.
Shackel, Paul A. “The Meaning of Place in the Anthracite Region of Northeastern Pennsylvania.” International Journal of Heritage Studies 22, no. 3 (March 15, 2016): 200–213. doi:10.1080/13527258.2015.1114009.
Shkuda, Aaron. The Lofts of SoHo: Gentrification, Art, and Industry in New York, 1950-1980. Historical Studies of Urban America. Chicago ; London: The University of Chicago Press, 2016.
Simpson, A. T. “‘We Will Gladly Join You in Partnership in Harrisburg or We Will See You in Court’: The Growth of Large Not-for-Profits and Consequences of the ‘Eds and Meds’ Renaissance in the New Pittsburgh.” Journal of Urban History 42, no. 2 (March 1, 2016): 306–22. doi:10.1177/0096144215623952.
Stilgoe, John R. Landscape and Images. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2005.
Stobart, Jon, and Mark Rothery. Consumption and the Country House. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.
Thomas, Zoë. “At Home with the Women’s Guild of Arts: Gender and Professional Identity in London Studios, c .1880–1925.” Women’s History Review 24, no. 6 (November 2, 2015): 938–64. doi:10.1080/09612025.2015.1039348.
Tronchin, Lamberto, and David J. Knight. “Revisiting Historic Buildings through the Senses Visualising Aural and Obscured Aspects of San Vitale, Ravenna.” International Journal of Historical Archaeology 20, no. 1 (March 2016): 127–45. doi:10.1007/s10761-015-0325-2.
Tutter, Adele. Dream House: An Intimate Portrait of the Philip Johnson Glass House. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2016.
Valle, Luisa. “Object Lesson: Thomas Hirschhorn’s Gramsci Monument: Negotiating Monumentality with Instability and Everyday Life.” Buildings & Landscapes 22, no. 2 (Fall 2015): 18–35.
Walser, Lauren. “California Dream: Lincoln Place Apartments.” Preservation, 2016.
Wegmann, Jake. “Research Notes: The Hidden Cityscapes of Informal Housing in Suburban Los Angeles and the Paradox of Horizontal Density.” Buildings & Landscapes 22, no. 2 (Fall 2015): 89–110.
Wilson, Thomas D. The Oglethorpe Plan: Enlightenment Design in Savannah and Beyond. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012.
Zhang, Yingchun, and Zongjie Wu. “The Reproduction of Heritage in a Chinese Village: Whose Heritage, Whose Pasts?” International Journal of Heritage Studies 22, no. 3 (March 15, 2016): 228–41. doi:10.1080/13527258.2015.1114505.
For more information or questions contact the secretary or the webmaster.