Reviews of Governing by Design

In a series of fascinating essays, ten of the thirteen directors of the Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative pry the lid off a Pandora’s box of intractable questions about architecture and building production—and their histories—today. These authors examine things explicitly outside the “properly architectural,” according to conventions of architectural history and theory (particularly within the professional school)… Aggregate promises to illuminate critical aspects of its subject precisely by encircling building culture with a set of well-aimed spotlights.1

—Claire Zimmerman, University of Michigan

Perhaps we see here a turn of architectural history not so much towards ‘the social’ or ‘the political’ as towards a specific examination of the rule-laden, procedurally bound, globalised decision-making sphere in which architecture operates, and is operated upon.2

—David Smiley, Columbia University

In a wide-ranging yet coherent exploration of the relationships between design production and political economy, this perpetually engaging edited volume provocatively expands the domains of architectural and urbanist discourse to consider new dimensions of power and contested identities. By elucidating the complex codevelopment of the built environment at all scales and across the globe, Governing by Design prompts us to consider the ways that all architecture is embedded in a managed urbanism of risk. Deploying a commendable form of theorized specificity, the chapters usefully coalesce into the aggregate their authors profess to be.

—Lawrence J. Vale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

At last the study of architecture and cities moves beyond the premise that they are merely ‘reflections’ of the broader culture. This edited volume explores architecture as the instrumental medium by which societies actively work to define and realize their expectations, desires, and needs. Just as important, it reveals how critical the role of designers and users is in establishing the means for communities to contest and negotiate their desired ends.

—John Archer, University of Minnesota

✓ Not peer-reviewed

  1. 1

    Claire Zimmerman, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 73, no. 2 (June 2014): 289–291,

  2. 2

    David Smiley, Journal of Architecture 18, no. 6 (December 2013): 944–950,