Architects in Power Politics and Ideology in the Work of Ernst May and Albert Speer

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the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the editors of The Journal of Interdisciplinary History

Architects in Power: Politics and Ideology in the Work of Ernst May and Albert Speer Author(s): Barbara Miller Lane Reviewed work(s): Source: The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Vol. 17, No. 1, The Evidence of Art: Images and Meaning in History (Summer, 1986), pp. 283-310 Published by: The MIT Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/204134 . Accessed: 05/04/2012 16:50 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

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Journal of Interdisciplinary History, xvii:i

(Summer i986),

283-3 IO.

Barbara Miller Lane

Architects in Power: Politics and Ideology in the Work of Ernst May and Albert Speer This article has a twofold purpose. First, by comparing some aspects of the lives and works of Ernst May and Albert Speer, it illuminates the special experience of architects in power in the twentieth century. Throughout history, architects have had a greater need for wealthy patrons than have other artists because of the great expense of buildings. And government buildings, because of their size and visibility, have always been the most attractive of commissions. Thus, architects have always been involved to some extent in politics, and have nearly always sought positions of power and influence. But never before the twentieth century, when the scale of government building has often transformed architecture into planning, and the relative democratization of politics has vastly increased the size of the audience, has the need for power among architects been so great. Both May and Speer held positions of authority which enabled them to make decisions as planners and as architects. Both were strongly supported by powerful patrons, but both also had to deal with the realities of politics and public opinion in a democratic, or at least a populist, era. I have written before about the work of both men, but have never attempted a direct comparison in order to examine the phenomenon of the architect in power.1 A second purpose is methodological. In the process of explaining the goals of their work to their patrons and to the public, May and Speer often made statements which were not entirely true. They described themselves as creators of an architecture Barbara Miller Lane is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and Director of the Growth and Structure of Cities Program at Bryn Mawr College. She is the author of Architecture Politics in Germany,1918-1945 (Cambridge, Mass., i968; new ed. i985). and This article is dedicated to Franklin Lewis Ford, teacher and friend, on his sixty-fifth birthday. (? i986 by The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the editors of The Journal of Interdisciplinary History. I

ed.

Lane, Architecture and Politics in Germany, 1918-1945 (Cambridge, Mass., i968; new i985); idem, "Albert Speer," MacmillanEncyclopedia Architects of (New York, i982), IV,

II 5-I i6.

284

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BARBARA

MILLER LANE

which was uniquely expressive of a "new era," and each defined this expression in both aesthetic and political terms. But the roots of their inspiration were more complex than either they, their patrons, or their audience believed. By illustrating this point, I hope to...
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