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Ugliness and Judgment: On Architecture in the Public Eye

Timothy Hyde



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Princeton University Press
15 March 2019
Theory of architecture; History of architecture; European history; Philosophy: aesthetics; Legal history
A novel interpretation of architecture, ugliness, and the social consequences of aesthetic judgment When buildings are deemed ugly, what are the consequences? In Ugliness and Judgment, Timothy Hyde considers the role of aesthetic judgment-and its concern for ugliness-in architectural debates and their resulting social effects across three centuries of British architectural history. From eighteenth-century ideas about Stonehenge to Prince Charles's opinions about the National Gallery, Hyde uncovers a new story of aesthetic judgment, where arguments about architectural ugliness do not pertain solely to buildings or assessments of style, but intrude into other spheres of civil society.

Hyde explores how accidental and willful conditions of ugliness-including the gothic revival Houses of Parliament, the brutalist concrete of the South Bank, and the historicist novelty of Number One Poultry-have been debated in parliamentary committees, courtrooms, and public inquiries. He recounts how architects such as Christopher Wren, John Soane, James Stirling, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe have been summoned by tribunals of aesthetic judgment. With his novel scrutiny of lawsuits for libel, changing paradigms of nuisance law, and conventions of monarchical privilege, he shows how aesthetic judgments have become entangled in wider assessments of art, science, religion, political economy, and the state.

Moving beyond superficialities of taste in order to see how architectural improprieties enable architecture to participate in social transformations, Ugliness and Judgment sheds new light on the role of aesthetic measurement in our world.
By:   Timothy Hyde
Imprint:   Princeton University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 216mm,  Width: 140mm, 
ISBN:   9780691179162
ISBN 10:   0691179166
Pages:   232
Publication Date:   15 March 2019
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  Primary ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Unspecified

Timothy Hyde is associate professor in the history and theory of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of Constitutional Modernism: Architecture and Civil Society in Cuba, 1933-1959. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Twitter @hyde_timothy

Reviews for Ugliness and Judgment: On Architecture in the Public Eye

Using selected episodes from English architectural history since the early eighteenth century, Hyde examines the ways in which architecture, as both a product and practice, has been evaluated against judgments of ugliness within wider external structures: in law, governance, the architectural profession, and the Church of England. In its aim and scope, Ugliness and Judgment represents a strikingly original contribution to the field. -Christine Stevenson, author of The City and the King: Architecture and Politics in Restoration London Wholly original in its approach, this book explores the roles of the judgment of ugliness in British architectural discourse and social debates from the eighteenth through twentieth centuries. Ugliness and Judgment is a superb piece of scholarship, opening up new ways, through the lens of ugliness, to understand and connect a whole range of canonical figures, buildings, and themes. -Daniel M. Abramson, author of Obsolescence: An Architectural History To call out ugliness, then, is a call to arms. While beauty basks lazily ad uselessly in its own perfection, ugliness spurs us into action. ---Igor Toronyi-Lalic, The Spectator Hyde's book confronts ugliness head on, using it as a way to interrogate British architectural discourse. . . . [His] research on the individual case studies is impeccable. ---Richard J. Williams, Times Higher Education

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