YMCA architecture : building character in the American city, 1869-1930 / Paula Rachel Lupkin.

Lupkin, Paula Rachel.
2 v. (vi, 603 p.) : ill. ; 29 cm.
Local subjects:
Penn dissertations -- History of art.
History of art -- Penn dissertations.
The Young Men's Christian Association building, so standard as to be easily overlooked, paradoxically occupies a vital place in the social history of modern architecture in the United States. Its omnipresence and seemingly conservative architectural style mask the importance of a building type that embodies two of the primary issues of modernism: the belief that architecture has the ability to shape character, and the effect of industrialization on form and practice. Indeed these buildings, long ignored as both architectural monuments and significant elements of urban culture, offer rich insight into the relationship between architecture and society in the modern age.
In the years after the Civil War, pious businessmen supported the YMCA's efforts to employ athletic clubhouses as an effective means of "manufacturing" manhood. They were motivated by a concern for the morals of their white-collar workers, who responded too eagerly to the culture of consumption the merchants themselves had fostered. More than tracts or sermons, the influence of an attractive, yet supervised, physical environment, seemed to be the most efficient means of evangelizing young men. Concerned principally by the process by which they produced a new building type, this dissertation examines the motives of the YMCA leadership, its perception of modern city culture, and the interpretation of this vision by architects, both famous and obscure. It also chronicles the YMCA's early development of a centralized building system designed to facilitate mass produce and distribution of buildings. This system not only anticipated the requirements of modern architectural practice, but also served to disseminate the YMCA idea of "environmental evangelism" to other religious and secular groups.
This dissertation examines the YMCA's building program as a significant aspect of the history of architectural design, and argues for an intrinsic link between architecture and the formation of modern commercial culture. In doing so it redefines architectural modernism, integrating social and economic issues into what has been perceived as a purely aesthetic concern.
Adviser: David B. Brownlee.
Thesis (Ph.D. in History of Art) -- University of Pennsylvania, 1997.
Includes bibliographical references.
Local notes:
University Microfilms order no.: 98-14882.
Brownlee, David B., advisor.
University of Pennsylvania.
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