Growing Up Modern – Oral History as Architectural Preservation

An image of a house interior featured in Julia Jamrozik's book Growing up Modern.

The colored glass portholes on the doorframes of the Schminke House by Hans Scharoun were at a height that the children could look through. Helga recalls running from door to door within the house to look at the world through different colors.

Julia Jamrozik, assistant professor of architecture, and Coryn Kempster have undertaken a series of interviews with individuals who were, as children, the first inhabitant of radical buildings from the early twentieth century.

They asked questions and recorded memories in an effort to understand the impact, or lack thereof, these buildings had on their interlocutors as children and the influence, if any, they continue to have on their adult selves. This research and documentation project uses the methods of oral history and acknowledges the personal and subjective impact of the interaction between the interviewee and the interviewer in the close reading of the narratives and the material artifacts. Focusing on the inhabitant and lived experience as opposed to the formal, tectonic, or myriad other concerns typically dominating architectural theory and history, the study questions what histories are being preserved for these exemplary structures.

Growing Up Modern is an ongoing research and documentation project supported by a Faculty Fellowship from UB's Humanities Institute and the Lawrence B. Anderson Award of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Initial findings from the research was published in the Journal of Architectural Education in 2018. 


Julia Jamrozik, Assistant Professor
Department of Architecture

Coryn Kempster
Partner at Coryn Kempster and Julia Jamrozik


Journal of Architectural Education

Date Published