Building a new New World Amerikanizm in Russian Architecture Jean-Louis Cohen

Publication date:
24 Nov 2020
Other Distribution
544 pages: 241 x 171mm
450 color + b-w illus.
Sales territories:

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.

Jean-Louis Cohen is Sheldon H. Solow Professor in the History of Architecture at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, a trained architect, and author of Architecture in Uniform (Yale, 2011).

The book isn’t argumentative or polemical so much as illuminating, a collection of extraordinary anecdotes, objects and ephemera. . . . The illustrations, some of which are assembled into photo-essays between chapters, are stories in themselves.”—Owen Hatherley, London Review of Books

“A fascinating history of reflections and distortions that traces the image of Russia and that of modernity itself.”—Arquitectura Viva


Named One of the Most Beautiful Swiss Books 2020, sponsored by the Swiss Culture Awards Federal Office of Culture