Oral History Interview with Denise Scott Brown
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
Oral History Interview with Denise Scott Brown
at the Offices of Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates
Manayunk, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
October 25, 1990 - November 9, 1991
Interviewer: Peter Reed
PR: I'm wondering how you change hats -- how you view this possibility to design both teaspoon and region. And an idea that comes to my mind is Louis Kahn, who would say his idea was that an architect could design a house and a city in the same breath. It's the same principle.
DSB: Yes. Well, Paul Davidoff reacted to that by saying, "Architects who think they can design everything from a teaspoon to a region, have delusions of grandeur." I agree with Paul. So I've pondered a lot about why I love to do it. And I think I've learned about what I can't design, and what I can't do, and where I must get help. Let me give you an example: recently, I've been working for a certain campus, and I've told them they needed a transportation plan. And separate from me -- because one of the trustees had his favorite transportation planner -- they did a transportation planning study, and it's almost useless. The transportation planner has done -- they gave him a base map like this -- so the road they wanted to close, he told them they couldn't close it. He was right in that. But the diversions that he showed them of traffic, so you could close this road, were all within the base map that they gave him: which means four or five blocks on either side of the road. I took one look at this thing, and I said, "The way to solve this problem is this. You have to go to the whole region, and here is a bridge, and here is a bridge. In this city, locations of work are changing. To the north are new work locations. You need to get my transportation engineer, who will tell you about how, by small scale changes at intersections all the way along, and at the other bridge and beyond, you can help this portion of the residential community use this route instead to go to this part of the city; and this portion will use this route -- this other bridge, to go to this part of the city. [Drawing while speaking] Then you have to talk with this transportation engineer, and work out what is an acceptable level of traffic that can go through this campus, that will make it just nicely accessible -- a good address. And go and negotiate with the city to get that level of traffic on that road, and no more, by these diversions, and by other methods. And you're probably going to have to accept buses on this road. You should be happy to accept buses. They'll bring your students. Use my transportation engineer, who has a lot of political know-how. And he wrote the textbooks that the city people have been using. Now, that was my strategy.
DSB: Sant'Elia. Sant'Elia was another hero. So these were great discoveries, and things that were against what the faculty believed in, and all that. I say that, because later, when I got to Penn, those were all of what was sitting in textbooks. The great discoveries were around Herbert Gans, on social questions. The "eyes which will not see" that Le Corbusier decried, Herb Gans was applying to social reality. Architects won't face social reality. It was a very interesting reversal. Peter Land already then began sending these messages from America. And at the AA, we were very surprised to find in 1957, it must have been, illustrations of a building by an architect we'd never heard of, in of all places, America. It was Brutalist and we just couldn't understand how it could possibly be. And the architect was -- gosh, fifty-seven years old. Old! Because we were twenty-two or twenty-three -- something like that. Maybe a little bit older by that time. Of course it was Lou Kahn, and the building was the Trenton Bath House. He hadn't done the medical school yet. It was the Trenton Bath House.
PR: And he had done the Yale Art Gallery, by then.
DSB: We hadn't seen that, and it didn't look to us understandably Brutalist. But when we first saw that Trenton Bath House, it was a Brutalist building. Now it's a very symmetrical building, and yet it still -- so there must have been elements of that symmetry somewhere around the Smithson's work, that keyed in for us, at that point. And it's heaviness. And then the brilliance of its plan, which I still think is very brilliant. And the simplicity of it. It seemed like an early Greek temple -- like Paestum, for example. That's what it felt like to us. So that was really exciting. By that time, I had made contact with Peter Smithson quite a lot. And here again, I must step back a bit in the story, because I'd finished my thesis, and I was back at the AA taking a course in tropical architecture.
DSB: She never quite finished at the AA. She wrote a lot for Architectural Design. You'll see articles by Ruth Lakofski in there. She and Robin set up a household many, many years ago.
PR: This is Robin Middleton?
DSB: Yes. So that when I had been very, very fond of Robin, she was, too. And in a way, you could say, in the end, she got him. But it never was quite as simple as that, either, because I became very fond of Robert. It's funny how these themes go through. But Robin is now teaching at Columbia, and my sister is now living in Woodstock, New York. So he commutes from there. But this is just over the last -- less than a year. About a year, I think. At that point, we started asking Peter Smithson -- if you were a bright, young architect and a Brutalist at that stage, you were interested in something called "town planning." The same way as Le Corbusier designed little buildings and big cities. The little buildings were what he could get from loving relatives. And the big cities were his dreams. So Peter Smithson said, "It's no use studying town planning in London, because that's a very, very pedestrian school. You should go to America. And the only place to go is where Lou Kahn is." I must tell you one other thing. When Robert and I got to London, I looked up the name Lucien Wolf in the phone book, and I found a name Lucien Wolf. I thought, "This is incredible." So, I phoned the number, and I got a very old lady on the phone, and I said, "Could I please speak with Lucien Wolf?" Now, we knew Lucien was dead. So, I said, "I called this number because I found it in the book" -- and I think by that time, Robert and I were married, but I'll tell you about that. I said, "My husband is the nephew of Lucien Wolf." She said, "Well, I'm his wife." She had married him, and he was twenty years older -- she was his second wife -- when he was blind. He never saw her until twenty years later, or something, when suddenly they could do an operation for his eyes. We started visiting Margaret Wolf, and she would give us a Friday evening dinner of the kind she would have cooked for her husband. And the history that opened to me, through this woman, was unbelievable, because he'd been into everything. He'd written a life of Lord Ripon. He wrote a lot for the English journals. He knew London intimately. Even when blind, he'd take her walking, and say, "If we stop here and you look up here, there's a piece of a cornice on this building that you should notice," without seeing it himself. He was a great dandy with his cane and his lavender gloves and his top hat. She said she went with him to Russia to investigate pogroms. And the Jewish people from the ghetto couldn't believe this dandy, who was supposed to be Jewish. She described the rabble -- tattered rabble, people like my family -- that would follow him from the ghetto to the main hotel in the town, and then stay peaking through the windows at him, sort of dirty and unkept. And those are the ones that he would find would not have been persecuted as they had claimed they had been. He was also anti-Zionist. I think he didn't like Jews very much. He had this bad eyesight, and he used to say, when the gentleman from the Jewish organizations came to visit, he'd say to his wife, "Please protect me from the shining reflection of their diamond rings in my eyes." [laughs] So it was sort of a funny picture of Lucien that we learned. But she said she knew Masaryck, and she knew he wouldn't have committed suicide. He had been very much involved with the minorities clauses of the League of Nations documents. So, it was fascinating to get this view into history. Anyway, at the end of the tropical course, Robert and I were married in London. We had to get married in a registry office because my parents said, "Don't try to be married in either religion." I went home, and I saw my parents, and they said, "Look. Enough already. Either you marry him or you leave him." He had said to me, "I suppose if you're going home, you better ask if we can get married." He was still up and down, "I don't know what my future is. I don't know what is going to happen." My dad said, "Enough already. If he's still feeling that, say, maybe he's right." Then I went and saw his father, and his father said, "I hope both of you will think better of this. You're both too young, anyway." His grandmother said similar things to that. And then the great sadness was, when he was killed, that was what brought his father around. And he suddenly changed, and he became much softer and much more warm. But he had to lose a son before he learned to be a human being, which is very sad. Of course, he had a leg missing.
PR: When we left off last week, you had recounted the extraordinary broad range of experiences from your childhood, from your university and college in South Africa, and with your education at the AA in London. And when we left off, you had returned to South Africa, after completing your degree at the School of Tropical Architecture, and you were working in South Africa. You were married to Robert Scott Brown, and you were planning to come to America -- probably to Philadelphia -- and it seemed that you were also in the throes of searching for how to design. You said you were "searching for a school of thought," and that to establish a school of thought, it required at least six people, and in South Africa there were only three." [laughs]
DSB: In Johannesburg at the time, there were only three. Or you could put it another way, that there are certain very strong people who are able to carry their way of thought with them, and wherever they are, achieve a consistency and supply themselves with the background support that they need to develop their ideas. The kind of person I am -- the kind of mind I have -- works best with making connections between things. For that, I need a support system -- an intellectual support system -- of strong people that I can vie with and learn from, and this could be in a good university or in a good office environment. I think I could have found that in South Africa. It would have been much harder for me. I think there are some people who don't need as much support. I was wondering whether Bob needs that kind of support. Maybe not quite in the same way, but he, too, needs an infrastructure for him to do his very best work. And he is able to produce that infrastructure for himself, with the help of a lot of people -- myself included -- so that he can do the part of the work that he feels he does best. Working and living in South Africa -- seeing Johannesburg -- my home -- with new eyes, given my new experience, was a wonderfully exciting thing. I think my questions about design, which were so strong when I left South Africa -- strong enough to send me away, so to speak, began in a very deep way to be answered in England. Partly because of discovering the Brutalists, and their way of thinking. I now had an approach that I thought I agreed with, in essence, though not necessarily in detail. And also, I had the spectacle of students -- very knowledgeable and very involved with -- very eagerly involved with their own work. I think the radical philosophy we found, helped us all -- inadequate as we felt as young people. And viewing the same problem I viewed -- that is the primacy of design, and the difficulty of defining how to do it -- this philosophy helped us all. But I saw people very committed to their ideas. Much too proud of their own work to ever plagiarize. Able to be influenced by other people, but very much they identified their work as their own. And this, I think, helped too. The third aspect that I learned, of viewing the problem of designing and the challenge of designing, was that the more philosophy you have, the more ideas you have in your mind, the more ideas you can bring to bear on a problem, the better you are able to approach the problem of design. And this means architectural ideas, as well as social or philosophical ones. The broader your vocabulary of seen examples, the broader your vocabulary of what you like -- again, the more able you are as an architect to design. And I think the process of teaching architects to design, probably does involve a succession of layering of vocabulary, philosophies, views, excitements, as different design problems are approached. And there is something to be said for making problems successively more complex, although complexity does not necessarily lie in scale. A room for a single human being could be a more complex problem at a certain level, than the design of a neighborhood. Now, Robert and I, in the middle of all this, were trying to find out more about the University of Pennsylvania, and about living in America. It was very difficult to learn anything. That very basic question, would Robert be called into the Army? was impossible to find an answer to. I didn't know then what I know from living in America now, that is the complexities of the answer to this problem -- it seemed so difficult -- so strange -- that no one in the American Embassy could say whether he would be called up or not. And, of course, living in England, the view of my generation in England of war, was the same as the view of the 1960s generation in America. If your back was broken and you got an F on your medical, you were looked upon as very lucky. Now, at the same time, we sent letters to the University of Pennsylvania, and asked them if we could please learn more about the school. In reply, they sent us tear sheets from the catalog. Well, tear sheets are not too easy to understand. It seemed to us that Louis Kahn was teaching in the Planning School. And as I've said before, planning was what you considered if you were an interested and talented architect. We finally found a very outdated catalog in the reading room of the American -- I think there was an American reading room in Johannesburg. It may be attached to the USIA. We looked at that book and saw fees that seemed unbelievable. The fees for education at the University of Johannesburg were, I think, eighty-four pounds a year, which was maybe something like -- at that point -- two hundred and forty dollars. I think the fees in England at the AA were one hundred and twenty pounds a year, which was then something like three hundred and sixty dollars. And the fees at the University of Pennsylvania seemed to be fourteen hundred dollars. There's an irony today in that, but we couldn't imagine how education could be so expensive. Of course, the fees in Johannesburg were very much subsidized by the government, but then, so were they in America. So we had that piece of knowledge. We had the tear sheets. We then began to put in motion the immigration application, and then we came across other funny concepts like, "What is your ethnic origin?" I hadn't heard the word "ethnic." What an innocent I was. But I was a little horrified to find this bastion of freedom asking me questions about race. That was supposed to happen in South Africa, not in America, and here were these questions about ethnic origin. Americans shouldn't care about that, is what I felt. Then, the next thing that happened was, there was an issue of Time magazine -- you must remember that we saw all of the American magazines in South Africa -- and about half the cars were American. The other half were English. I would see English Vogue and American Vogue. I thought the American was slicker, and kind of better for my way of life. I told you about the fawn [Burberry] raincoats and the symbolism of finding people in England who wore fawn raincoats. In South Africa, I was always a blue stocking. In that culture, my interests were looked upon as terribly dowdy, and I was beyond the pale. I was unsexy in the eyes of males there, and I spoke with too English an accent, and I was too educated. It was a very difficult problem for people like me in a developing area. You'll find the same problem black women have in America now, if you read the women's magazines. Women seem to get to be more educated than the males who could be their husbands. And that's a problem in probably many ethnic communities who have a different value for what women will do and what men will do. So it was hard for me to find people who were in sympathy with me, except for a very small group around the University. When I got to England, I found women did wear the same kind of fawn raincoats that I bought in men's stores in South Africa, and felt very un-female for doing it. But also, it seemed to suit my lifestyle. In England, the women wore those, and no one thought they were unfeminine. Then, of course, when I got to America, that was the whole preppy style. I saw the clothes at K-Mart and Brooks Brothers, and that these were rather generally worn in America. I didn't know anything about American college-girl style, but it seemed to be my style when I saw it, which I first did in Rome, with our Fulbright friends there. A South African told me that was American college-girl style. And look, they wore no make-up, either, which again, was looked upon by my father, as very benighted. His sisters had always dressed at the top of fashion. I couldn't get around on those pointy heels for more than forty-five minutes at a time. I don't know how this all got mixed into what I'm saying here, but it's about the future, about what I found in America. I had stopped wearing make-up when Italian film stars did in 1956. But my father didn't notice. But my answer to my father was one a Jewish male could understand: "My husband likes it that way." All this pre-dates what I'm going to find in America about preppy style. The other thing that came out in Time magazine was a little description of a new planning regime that was happening in Philadelphia, that there had been reform government, and there was a new Mayor. At about the same time, there was an article on the Kennedy brothers, by the way, which was interesting, as a family that was going to go far, with Joseph and his sons, etcetera. But the one about Philadelphia mentioned the white noose around the neck of a black city. And again, I thought, "How can they talk in such racist terms in America?" We were meant to be not conscious of race, and here they were in a very unselfconscious way, talking about the fact that there were white suburbs and a black center. And I thought I was going to go somewhere where there was democracy and freedom, unlike South Africa. In South Africa, we were horrified by segregation. We didn't just mention it in -- I hate to coin a phrase -- "black and white terms." [laughs] So, it seemed something rather strange; and then another piece of very strange information, and that was that the American -- what was the first satellite called? Voyager? The Russians had put Sputnik in orbit, and what came out of America was wailing and gnashing of teeth, and publicizing of attempts that failed. And I said to myself, "How can they show themselves in such a weak way? First of all, that they're so upset by the Sputnik. And secondly, they're publishing all their failures." I mention this, because this was my outsider's view of America at the time, and I rather scorned them for doing both things. For getting so upset about it, and then for publicizing the upset. Living in America as an American, many, many years later, I can see that emanating as part of the ethos of the culture, of openness, of everyone being involved in the government, of all having a sense of sharing in policy in some way. But it sounded very strange and rather weak from the outside. America looked ridiculous to me. These were the only emanations that arrived from America, except that my friends said, "It's going to be very cold there," and my mother said, "You could get a fur coat here, and it'll be cheaper than getting one in America." My parents had been in America, and of course, an aunt had lived in America, and knew our cousins there. So there was that connection. Also, my grandparents had gone to America in the 1930s, and they sent us wonderful gifts that I'll never forget. They were kind of funny little things from Coney Island, mainly. Puzzles and toys. That was like magic. All those beautiful, pretty things that came out of America. But also, they got into an automobile accident in America, I almost said motor car accident, which is the way I would have said it. So, I also knew that trouble -- automobile accidents -- came out of America. And as a result of that accident, my grandmother's heart condition became apparent, and she died shortly after she got back. Her death was traumatic for me in ways which are not relevant here, but which certainly colored my picture of America. My grandfather used to tell me about Coney Island, and all these wonderful things. Of course, when I later saw Coney Island, it was passed its prime. The Jewish community that lived around Coney Island, must have been where he was. And I think that same Coney Island, or just a little bit later, is described in that film called "Radio Days," which I've never seen. So, it's funny how something so far away can be so near. And also, there was a time when I was walking early one morning on the main street outside our house, and two Africans went by each other on bicycles, and the one asked the other, "How did the Joe Louis fight go that night?" And, again, it was spectacular that American Negro -- as it was called then -- culture and life, was very important to Black Africans. And to sort of notice it in that way was sort of amusing, too. Then we had to go to the American Embassy and do this very strange thing. Swear that we had never been communists anywhere. Again, what is all this strange stuff about? Why are they so scared of communists? We'd had that also before, when we were in Italy, meeting with American friends, and hearing them talk about communists, and saying, "You've been brainwashed. The same way our German friends were brainwashed. You have a most strange way of thinking about communists." And, of course, the South African government began to use that communist threat in a similar way. How could these Americans make us do such a thing which sounds like White South Africa? "Swear you've never been a communist." Of course I never had been, but I knew people like Arthur Korn, and what have they got against Arthur Korn? So, again, it seemed very weird to me. Well, of course, that was the time of McCarthy.
PR: So, you had worked for six weeks for Vaccaro?
DSB: Yes. And then we set off again, and we went South in the car, and we went as far as Paestum. We didn't get any further. And that, in part, hitchhiking, because the car broke down in a place called Bellizi, and had to be mended. Again, Paestum was a very fantastic experience for us, and then sort of a pre-cursor again, for Lou Kahn, who obviously loved Paestum. But getting to feel that there was something akin to what the Brutalists were doing in this very early phase of Greek art -- of Greek --
DSB: Yes. And we haven't gotten me to Philadelphia yet. And yet, it's getting late. If you can remember where we are, I have to bring us back via England to South Africa. It's important that, because I saw all of my friends in England once more. And that was the time when they discovered -- you see, it was 1957 it came out -- the Lou Kahn work that I was talking about.
PR: The Trenton Bath House?
DSB: The Trenton Bath House. Yes. And that was the time when -- I remember actually where we were standing. We were standing in the AA in the gallery, and someone had a copy of this magazine with this Trenton Bath House in it, and interested Brutalists gathered around, and we all looked at it, and said, "What is this? It's very interesting. Who is this person?" I then, also -- I'm trying to think. I then talked with Peter Smithson, at that stage, because I had heard about Team 10, and what happened at CIAM. And I said, "Surely you're not against CIAM. It was wonderful what they did." And he said, "No, no. It's this latter day group, who've become just promoters -- self promoters and journalists. And that's what we're against." And that's when I was back in England, preparing to leave England and go home.
PR: Almost to Philadelphia. [laughs]
DSB: Almost to Philadelphia. And we arrived in eighty degree weather, on September 18. We left our stuff at the hotel, went immediately to Philadelphia, set up on a mattress on the floor in the Sauers' living room, which is where I first lived in Philadelphia. But before we did even that -- went straight from this train station to the University of Pennsylvania. Now, you see, I knew it was cold in America, so I was wearing my persian lamb black coat, and a felt hat. And I sat and sweltered in this line in the eighty degrees, waiting to register at the University of Pennsylvania. Now, just before we did that, Eric Hultberg, who was also a young architect that we met in Venice -- he'd been, I think, in our group. He had a Scottish wife. He was Norwegian. We went first to him, and he was in the landscape school. And he said, "I'll take you to my professor first." So, the first professor I met at Penn was Ian McHarg, and he unscrupulously tried to seduce us into the landscape program. He said, "What are people like you doing going to city planning? You should be in landscape." We said, "No, no. We want to be with Lou Kahn." And he gave up. He said, "If you're talking that way, and you should be in planning, go and see David Crane." So we went to see David Crane, and he said, "Hello, Robert. Hello, Denise. Welcome to the planning school." And he had been, without our knowing it, made our student advisor. And having waited in this line to register with him -- sweltering in this coat and hat, I took them off -- and we sat down, and there was an immediate meeting of minds. And within five minutes, he called up, and to our surprise -- because he was new to the advising thing, too, he said, "I have a remarkably advanced and mature couple of students here. Can I please give them a year and a half course instead of a two year course?" And the reason for that was that I had said to Dave, "We want to have a child. I want to be pregnant and finish my course at the time I have a baby. And I don't want to have to spend two years." In fact, we had in mind that we were spending one semester. We didn't tell Dave that. And we were using it as a way to get aware of what was happening in America, the way being in summer school had helped us learn about Italy -- far more than we'd ever managed as tourists anywhere else. So, I had worked out that being in a school was a way to teach you about a country in a way that you'd never learn any other way. And boy, was I right about planning school.
PR: So, you intended to go back to South Africa?
DSB: We intended to work a bit in America, and then to find a way to work as architects in Africa. Not necessarily in South Africa.
Perhaps for the United Nations. We didn't want to be in the situation we were in in South Africa. But if we were going to go back to South Africa, we felt we would fall foul of the government, and we wanted a lot of education to bring something worth having -- our own support system, and a contribution to the country before we went back. All that changed. But, as we talked with Dave Crane, we were asking the same questions that he was asking. "How do cities change?" And I began drawing what they had drawn for me in CIAM -- that old cities renew in a spiral, from their center, outward. And he was transfixed by all of this. He was asking just the same questions. "Why?" I didn't know. Putting together all of these influences has been an a posteriori jigsaw puzzle for me. I think things were happening in Harvard that you don't hear about out of Harvard. Someone told me that Kevin Lynch, like Bob Venturi, wrote only a very small piece of what he actually taught. And that at Harvard at the time, was a lot of study of what they called determinants of urban form. How does a form become the way it is from the society it's in, from the technology? And Arthur Korn had talked that way, when he said, "History builds the town." Sekler [?] once said something that made me think that much more of this happened than I knew. He said, "I've been listening to this kind of thing for so many years." He said it sort of angrily. And there was someone else who told me that who'd been at Harvard. He said, "You know, all of these questions were being asked at Harvard, but Kevin Lynch was maybe the studio master for the students who were asking them." But he never wrote about that. Dave Crane was asking those same questions. Dave was out of Harvard. You know, the school Holmes [Perkins] put together was -- a lot of it was stolen from -- I'm not saying that critically. Borrowed from, used by -- whatever -- from Harvard. So, we said to Dave, "We think from what we've learned from our friends, we shouldn't be in this department. We should really be getting a masters in architecture, because that's where Lou Kahn teaches. No one told us that. The catalogs said he teaches in planning."
PR: You said before that you knew about Kahn's Trenton Bath House. What about his publications on his Philadelphia studies -- his city plans for Philadelphia?
DSB: I think all of that was published later.
PR: Some of it was published in Perspecta -- The Yale Journal. And maybe that didn't make its way.
DSB: What year?
PR: 1952, '53 and '57.
DSB: Are you sure it was then?
PR: Yes. But I was just thinking, maybe it didn't make its way to London.
DSB: No. It didn't make its way.
PR: Smithson maybe learned about it more when he came over here.
DSB: It made its way into Team 10 Primer.
DSB: And that's where we saw it for the first time.
DSB: And Team 10 Primer -- I can't remember when it came out. It was published in America considerably later. It was an issue of Architectural Design. I should say that Architectural Design was the source for Brutalist thinking. It published the Smithsons the most, and it published Team 10 Primer. We should find out when that was, because that certainly had Lou Kahn in it then.
PR: Okay. I was just curious if you remembered that -- if you knew about his plans -- his Philadelphia plans -- before coming over here. If that was part of his reputation.
DSB: I can't remember. It may have been. We just need to see when Team 10 Primer was published by Architectural Design, and I keep telling Papadakis that he has a very important role in all of this because of being the first place where it was published, and that they should celebrate that. They had forgotten that. He didn't know that even.
PR: My sense is -- I can't remember. I'll look it up.
DSB: Tell me next time, because I should confront that, and tell you what I really did know. It's hard to remember.
PR: My thought is that it came out after you were here.
DSB: I think it did, too.
PR: I think you would have come before. But Smithson had visited Lou, I think.
PR: Before you came.
DSB: Absolutely. Because that's why he told me. But by the time I came here, the Smithsons were saying, "Lou Kahn's early Beaux Art training is pulling him down. He's not doing what we're doing anymore." Quite soon after I got here, I think that started to happen. And, of course, there was also Reyner Banham's book, which I found very difficult to read. I think that American liberal arts training and the American way of teaching architectural history prepared architects much better than the English way of training architects, or the South African, to deal with, kind of, history, theory, etcetera, etcetera. No theory was taught except historical theory at the AA or in my school in South Africa. Of course no theory was taught here, really. Maybe Bob's course on theories in architecture was a very early teaching [of theory], and before that, aesthetics, apparently, was taught through philosophy. There's the whole question of how criticism moved from philosophy to history in architecture. People like Gideon were critics, as well as historians, and makers of schools, too. Although academic historians would criticize this role. I don't think it's to be criticized. I think it's to be seen as one of the roles, but not the only role. I wrote an article called "The Teaching of Architectural History," which tried to deal with this. But what's happened recently is the theorists have now moved back into philosophy. The latest books of architectural theory have to give you a cram course in philosophy before they tell you history.