Search our site
Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner Read the opening extract of the brand new Susie Steiner book before its publication on 05/04/2018

On the Wings of Modernism The United States Air Force Academy by Robert Allan Nauman

On the Wings of Modernism The United States Air Force Academy


On the Wings of Modernism The United States Air Force Academy by Robert Allan Nauman

The United States Air Force Academy stands as one of the most extensive architectural projects of the cold war era. Key to a full understanding of American modernism, the project was also a volatile battleground involving competing ideas about aesthetics and politics. Arguing that the academy's production was squarely grounded in bureaucratic and political processes, Robert Allen Nauman demonstrates that selection of both the site and the design firm was the result of political maneuverings involving U.S. military leadership. In the academy\u2019s iconic design, myths and metaphors of flight and the American West were interwoven with those of modernism, both to justify the plan and to free it from any lingering socialist or European associations. Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill\u2019s first public exhibition of plans and models for the project was designed by the former Bauhaus master Herbert Bayer, and it incorporated photographs of the Colorado Springs site by Ansel Adams and William Garnett. Using previously unexplored resources of the U.S. Air Force Academy, SOM, and the Air Force Academy Construction Agency, Nauman uncovered materials such as negatives of Adams\u2019s original photographs of the sites. He also conducted extensive interviews with SOM\u2019s project director for the academy, Walter Netsch, in tracing the complete history of the academy's construction, from its earliest conception to eventual completion.


Nearly half a century after the fact, there can be no question that this complex ranks among the major modernist works of its era in the U.S. The behind-the-scenes view of how this vast project evolved affords insight on the making of architecture that we are seldom able to attain. --Richard Longstreth, author of City Center to Regional Mall: Architecture, the Automobile, and Retailing in Los Angeles Drawing upon a wealth of correspondence, company archives, inter-office memos, records of congressional hearings, and contemporary media accounts, Nauman has developed a detailed narrative of the political and architectural debates that led up to the construction of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Extremely well written and thoroughly researched, the book admirably places the genesis of the academy within the broader stylistic and political context of the cold war. --Kenneth Breisch, author of Henry Hobson Richardson and the Small Public Library in America

About the Author

Robert Allen Nauman teaches the history of art and architecture in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendations

Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

18th March 2008


Robert Allan Nauman

More books by Robert Allan Nauman
Author 'Like for Like'


University of Illinois Press


192 pages


Public buildings: civic, commercial, industrial, etc
Air forces & warfare



I 'Lovereading' because it lets me see what new books are around with a detailed synopsis and readers' reviews.

Judith Sharp

I love the honest opinions, recommendations for every genre and every reader, wish lists and Like for Like.

Amrita Dasgupta

Lovereading tells me about new books before they hit the shelves, lets me find other authors I may like and has great prize draws!

Sheila Dale

I recommend Lovereading because you get honest reviews on a whole range of genres-there's something for everyone. It's the only site I need.

Sian Spinney

Lovereading helps me decide what real people read.

Kerry Bridges

Lovereading is not only an amazing site, but it's one of my very favourites. It's like visiting a fascinating bookstore, but better.

Rebecca Jayne Barrett

Hooked on books? Give Lovereading a go - for the chance to discover brilliant books, and to see why our members love it so.

Claire Hill

Love books. Love reading. Love reading books. And, here's the trick. Here's a website which caters for people like me.

Ian Harvey-brown