Building a new New World: Amerikanizm in Russian Architecture
Canadian Centre for Architecture & Yale University Press, 2020
An essential exploration of how Russian ideas about the United States shaped architecture and urban design from the czarist era to the fall of the U.S.S.R.
Idealized representations of America, as both an aspiration and a menace, played an important role in shaping Russian architecture and urban design from the American Revolution until the fall of the Soviet Union. Jean-Louis Cohen traces the powerful concept of “Amerikanizm” and its impact on Russia’s built environment from early czarist interest in Revolutionary America, through the spectacular World’s Fairs of the 19th century, to department stores, skyscrapers, and factories built in Russia using American methods during the 20th century. Visions of America also captivated the Russian avant-garde, from El Lissitzky to Moisei Ginzburg, and Cohen explores the ongoing artistic dialogue maintained between the two countries at the mid-century and in the late Soviet era, following a period of strategic competition. This first major study of Amerikanizm in the architecture of Russia makes a timely contribution to our understanding of modern architecture and its broader geopolitics.