The get-to-know: David Monteyne

David Monteyne recieved his PhD in American Studies at University of Minnesota in 2005. Currently, he is the Graduate Program Director, MEDes and PhD Programs, at the Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary.

Monteyne’s personal statement on the website of University of Calgary:
My training is in architectural history and cultural studies, but I have always thought of myself as an urbanist, studying buildings, sites, monuments, public spaces, and landscapes in relation to a broadly-defined context.

In 1995, I completed a Master’s degree in the School of Architecture at UBC, then worked five years as a lecturer, heritage researcher, and architecture librarian. In 2000, I began a PhD in American Studies at the University of Minnesota. I chose American Studies as a result of my search for critical, interdisciplinary methods for understanding social space. My dissertation came out as a book in 2011 with the University of Minnesota Press.

Through an engagement with cultural and political history, I seek to specify the different techniques and processes by which space is produced through social relations. Critical architectural history seeks to research the built environment as a creative cultural phenomenon not limited to singular structures or famous architects. This scholarship has begun to incorporate analytic categories such as race and gender, thereby adding relations of identity and power to its examination of the meanings and uses of spaces and places. In my work, a specific focus has been the relationship between built environments and national identity.

A long-term research goal concerns the most general question of my work, which is the relation between space and subject formation. Much scholarship has addressed the creation of spaces by designers, and the phenomenological experience of spaces by individuals. In contrast, understanding the role of the everyday spatial practice of subjects in producing the built environment is one of the most under-studied questions facing architectural and urban design history. A new research project on Canadian cultural landscapes seeks to address this question through research on spaces of immigration.

Selected articles and books of interest with regard to workshop theme:

Guest editor, with Matthew Farish, Special Issue of Urban History 42:4 (November 2015), on “Cold War Cities.”

”When we distributed the Call for Papers announcing this special issue on Cold War cities, we began from the premise that Cold War history is not yet an urban history, and that cities have largely remained as backdrops in studies of the actors, strategies and technologies of the global conflict that waxed and waned from the late 1940s to the late 1980s. Moreover, we noted that Cold War history, until recently, was not particularly global. From these two propositions, we devised a series of questions that the authors in this special issue have addressed in different ways, with emphasis on two. What was – and what made – a Cold War city? And can we craft international, transnational or comparative histories of Cold War cities? The final shape of the issue was not immediately clear, but happily we are left with a group of articles extending the reach of Cold War urban history far beyond familiar sites like Berlin, Washington or Moscow, and papers which ground their arguments in urban spaces, policies, practices and the everyday lives of residents….”

Fallout Shelter: Designing for Civil Defense in the Cold War. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011. (Second printing in 2013.) [over 20 scholarly citations; 7 academic reviews of book; coverage in 22 media and web venues]

“Sub-surface Urbanism: Cities in the Atomic Age,” Surfacing Urbanisms: Recent Approaches to Metropolitan Design. 2006 ACSA West Conference Proceedings (Pasadena, CA, 12-15 October 2006), 281-285.

Shelter From The Elements: Architecture and Civil Defense in the Early Cold War,” New Essays on Ethics and Architecture, The Philosophical Forum XXXV:2 (Summer 2004), p. 179-199. [3 citations, July 2015]

Extract from the article:
In 1951, the professional journal Progressive Architecture (P/A) published a twenty-page symposium titled “The PROS and CONS of Architecture for Civil Defense,” in which experts debated a number of pressing questions for architects: Should we design new buildings to resist atomic blast? Is shelter worthwhile? Should urban redevelopment proceed? Does safety lie in dispersal? As the mag- azine’s editors summarized, those in the pro camp saw civil defense as an opportunity for the architect to “relate himself and his profession to changing times” through the research and design of blast resistant structures, and by working toward the “strategic decentralization” of U.S. cities; the cons believed that the architect should “act as leader, rather than technician,” concerning himself with international outreach to less advanced nations, and “improvement of the physi- cal and intellectual level of our own country.” In this debate, P/A outlined the ethical parameters of professional involvement in civil defense during the early Cold War: how an architect defined the common good—by national security or international goodwill, economics or social welfare—could very well decide their participation in, or critique of, “design for survival.”…

Book chapters:
“Certain Uncertainties: Architecture and Building Security in the 21st Century,”
in Benjamin Flowers, ed., Architecture in an Age of Uncertainty (Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2014), 87-100.

“The Legacy of Hiroshima in Civil Defense and Architecture,” in Erin Barnett and Philomena Mariani, eds., Hiroshima: Ground Zero 1945 (New York and Göttingen: ICP/Steidl, 2011), 172-85.