Undergraduate History + Theory Coordinator Braden Engel was awarded a PhD from Leeds Beckett University in the Spring 2020. His dissertation, titled “The Gospel According to Colin: Rowe, and Modern Architecture in Postmodern Education” was defended in Leeds, United Kingdom, in January.
Colin Rowe (1920-1999) is recognized as one of the most influential architecture teachers of the twentieth century. Braden’s research investigated the methods that made him so influential, and the lessons his strategies teach us about the pedagogy of uncovering meaning in the built environment. Braden argued that Rowe was a successful teacher because he understood the value of engaging students with modernity’s gift of free invention. This is the Gospel according to Rowe. Paralleling the promises of modern architecture to faith in Hebraic-Christian salvation, Rowe led his students into the temptations of modernism through historical analyses in order to test their convictions in architectural design. Rowe produced students proficient in curiosity and criticality through his unique use of four postmodern devices – irony, paradox, ambiguity, and refutations – which serve to focus each chapter of the dissertation. Braden’s work enables a more balanced appreciation of Colin Rowe while rethinking attitudes to design education and historiography.