When I made my decision to enroll at Cornell University’s Human Environment Relations College, I knew I wanted to major in Design. I knew I wanted to change my world to one that I could fit into, I could work within and I could design to my own criteria. I discovered Delores Hayden while I was at Cornell.
I am so thrilled that Beany linked to Delores Hayden in her post yesterday. She made the statement, "In the U.S. however, entire living areas are designed so as to make it hell for pedestrians". I felt in a rush the thrill of discovery I’d felt more than a quarter of a century ago when I stumbled upon Hayden’s perspective.
Aside, those many years ago I searched the stacks for women in design, women in architecture. I was a neophyte at research and all too often I would get caught up in browsing, losing my focus, forgetting my train of thought and careless in recording my search methodology. As part of my work-study funding I worked at Cornell’s Olin library one summer and fall. I learned a lot to do the job, but never got over my frustration with getting in and getting out with research materials in any deliberate, productive way. I think my mind vacillates between the vast and the minute, the philosophical and the personal, big – little, etc. Aaargh. Research at the library for me, FAIL. Conversely, I am so grateful for what the internet allows me to experience. The internet allows me to research far more effectively.
To return to Delores Hayden and to illustrate what I just wrote, I want to provide a quick glance at the several publications from Hayden those many years ago.
Now for some unabashed promotion of Delores Hayden’s books. I start with:
Seven American Utopias:The Architecture of Communitarian Socialism, 1790-1975.
"Seven American Utopias combines cultural history, design analysis, and political theory. It is, thus, a conceptually ambitious book and a good one....a sophisticated study of the politics of design."
--Thomas Bender, The Journal of American History
The Grand Domestic Revolution:
A History of Feminist Designs for American Homes, Neighborhoods, and Cities
"This is a book to startle and inspire feminists today...An architect herself, Hayden has brought history to life by insisting that social problems are also spatial problems, and must be addressed as such."
--Nancy Cott, The New York Review of Books
"Women's work is not done. The design of our place to live (some still call it 'the built environment') still follows men's visions. For most women, the old household drudgeries have merely been replaced by new suburban drudgeries.
"We now have women architects--all of 3 percent of a total of 37,000 members of the American Institute of Architects. But few if any of them are addressing the issues of residential and community design that are still keeping women 'in their place' and that, a century-and-a-half ago, led to what Dolores Hayden calls 'material feminism."
--Wolf Von Eckardt, Washington Post June 1982
These were the two publications I knew about during my studies. Later, Hayden wrote these following books about America’s suburbs, America’s urban environment.
Redesigning the American Dream: Gender, Housing, and Family Life
Americans still build millions of dream houses in neighborhoods that sustain Victorian stereotypes of the home as "woman's place" and the city as "man's world." Urban historian and architect Dolores Hayden tallies the personal and social costs of an American "architecture of gender" for the two-earner family, the single-parent family, and single people. Many societies have struggled with the architectural and urban consequences of women's paid employment: Hayden traces three models of home in historical perspective—the haven strategy in the United States, the industrial strategy in the former USSR, and the neighborhood strategy in European social democracies—to document alternative ways to reconstruct neighborhoods.
Revised and expanded in 2002 and still utterly relevant today as the New Urbanist architects have taken up Hayden's critique of suburban space, this award-winning book is essential reading for architects, planners, public officials, and activists interested in women's social and economic equality.
"...the most cynical anti-planner and the scrappiest tenant organizer will be pleasantly surprised to see that Hayden includes positions of class, race, and the economic underpinnings of women's position."
The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History
"Essential reading for preservationists and anyone interested in urban America."
--Antoinette J. Lee
"Hayden invents a totally original method of 'storytelling with the shapes of time.' The result is an almost poetic invocation of the resilience of the human condition, grounded in both theoretical understanding and practical experiences of place-making and preservation."
"The Power of Place is a graceful manifesto that enlists Dolores Hayden's formidable skills as a writer and architectural historian to argue for new ways to understand and represent the social history of urban space."
Building Suburbia: Green Fields and Urban Growth, 1820-2000
A history of the seven contested cultural landscapes where most Americans now live.
Delores Hayden is a professor of architecture, urbanism and American Studies at Yale University. She is credited with being the first to use the expression ‘built environment’ in America. She’d studied in England in the 1970’s where this expression was in use.
Merely explaining the relationship of American studies, the social sciences to the built environment brought back a flood of the passion within me. I loved my field of study and had forgotten how much until reading the interview that follows.
"Building Suburbia," Architecture Boston, April/
May 2008, Jeff Stein interview with Dolores Hayden
There is a real key within this book to the loss of our farmland and the disproportionate wealth, the dominance of a growth economy and the loss of the focus, the money, the building and governing for the public good. I have not yet read the book, but I am excited to after reading this interview.
I am so happy to have been given this reminder of Delores Hayden again.
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