William MacDonald and Eric Wolf (1989)

William L. MacDonald

In 1986, noted historian William L. MacDonald published a second volume to his seminal work on Roman architectural history: The Architecture of the Roman Empire: An urban appraisal.  The work represented a Lynchian approach to studying urban space, analyzing the “urban armature” in addition to architectural details, and considering the relationship between the urban form and the way that form met the needs of its users. A 1988 review of the book in Technology and Culture by Lynn T. Courtenay summarizes, “Above all, the author argues, Roman imperial architecture is not only distinctively urban in character but also fundamentally ‘popular’ in its response to the needs of everyday life (255).” This sensitive approach to understanding the relationship between form and social dynamics is the reason MacDonald was honored with the Kevin Lynch Award.

Courtenay, Lynn T. The Architecture of the Roman Empire. Vol. 2: An Urban Appraisal by William MacDonald. Technology and Culture Vol. 29, No. 3 (Jul., 1988), pp. 675-677.

Eric Robert Wolf

The co-winner of the inaugural Kevin Lynch Award in 1989 was anthropologist Eric R. Wolf. Dr. Wolf’s Europe and the People Without History, reprinted in 1982, and The Hidden Frontier: Ecology and Ethnicity in an Alpine Valley reflected an affinity with Lynch’s ideas about history, power, and the relationship between social dynamics and the physical environment. Wolf’s preoccupation with the influence of human power dynamics on the physical and social dynamics of society offered an alternate perspective to MacDonald’s, which began from the physical to understand the social.


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