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Julia Walker

Associate Professor

Art History

Background

Julia Walker’s research and teaching focuses on modern and contemporary architecture and urbanism, exploring in particular the persistence and transformation of  modernist ideas within contemporary practice. Her first book, Berlin Contemporary: Architecture and Politics After 1990 (Bloomsbury, 2021), examines the architecture and urban planning of reunified Berlin and reveals how its iconic new government structures embody the unsettled contradictions that animate global contemporary architecture culture as a whole. Among the most high-profile and also the most contested of the city’s contemporary architectural projects were those designed for the national government and its related functions. Berlin Contemporary explores these government buildings and plans, tracing their relationship to the work of modernist architect-luminaries such as Bruno Taut and Louis Kahn while also situating their media-ready forms and influential designers within the spectacular world of global contemporary architecture. Close studies of these projects, including Norman Foster's redesigned Reichstag, Axel Schultes and Charlotte Frank's Chancellery, the reconstruction of the Berlin Stadtschloss (now known as the Humboldt Forum), and the recent controversies surrounding the city’s new international airport, reveal the intricate historical negotiations that contemporary architecture is called upon to perform across the globe.

Her second book, tentatively titled Why They Left: Women After Architecture, recovers the histories of women who studied and practiced as architects before leaving or being pressured out of the field. One such example is the German architect, planner, and designer Brigitte D’Ortschy, who was born and trained in Berlin and spent her early career in Munich. After encountering Frank Lloyd Wright during a study tour to the United States, D’Ortschy studied with him briefly at Taliesin West before moving to Japan, where she would eventually become the first Zen master from Germany. In addition to recuperating stories of individual architects, this project is intended to expand understanding of architecture’s intellectual scope, connecting it to fields as diverse as religion, science, politics, and music. 

Walker has also published articles on the architecture of Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, and Daniel Libeskind, among others. Her work has been supported by the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst, the Society of Architectural Historians, the Walter Benjamin Kolleg of the University of Bern, and the Ellyn Uram Kaschak Institute for Social Justice for Women and Girls.

Education

  • PhD, MA, University of Pennsylvania

Research Interests

  • Modern and contemporary architecture
  • Post-reunification Germany
  • Cultures of architecture and urbanism
  • Architectural theory and criticism
  • Architecture and gender

More Info

Berlin Contemporary: Architecture and Politics After 1990