In the wake of the Great Depression, one of Franklin Roosevelt's most successful New Deal programs was the formation of the Tennessee Valley Authority, a federal government-owned corporation created in 1933 to revitalize the Tennessee River Valley. The TVA provided navigation, flood control, electricity generation, strategic materials for national defense, economic development, unemployment relief, and an overall improvement of living conditions in this once-impoverished rural area.
The TVA Architects Office built a huge number of structures during the late 1930s and early 1940s, including the many dams that dramatically altered life in the Tennessee River Valley. Its design agenda was comprehensive, addressing all scales of design--from door handles to landscape--with equal dedication. The Tennessee Valley Authority: Design and Persuasion, the most in-depth examination of the TVA ever assembled, includes essays by experts in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, graphic design, industrial design, and the fine arts.
In serving the social, political, and economic endeavors of the government, TVA architects directly helped shape the nascent American design culture and, arguably, create the finest extended body of modernist architecture--and certainly its most technologically sublime--in North America. Featuring new photography by Richard Barnes, The Tennessee Valley Authority interweaves technical, political, aesthetic, and cultural concerns to complete a missing chapter in the study of modern American architecture and design. The book includes an introduction by former Senator Howard H. Baker, Jr.
Tim Culvahouse, FAIA, is an architect specializing in the public communication of design ideas. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Tulane School of Architecture (1979) and a Master of Environmental Design from Yale (1986), where his thesis explored materiality and architectural criticism. He received his initial architectural license in New York in 1984 and is currently a registered architect in California.
His articles have appeared in a wide range of journals, including ANY, Art Papers, Harvard Design Magazine, Modulus, Perspecta, Residential Architect, and World Architecture. Since 2000, he has served as editor of arcCA (Architecture California), the quarterly journal of the AIA California Council.
Culvahouse was formerly Head of the Department of Architecture, Rhode Island School of Design (1988-93), and Associate Dean for Design and Architectural Studies, California College of the Arts (1995-1999). In the Spring of 2004, he was the Favrot Distinguished Chair in Design at Tulane School of Architecture.
He leads Culvahouse Consulting Group, Inc. and is Senior Advisor to Public Architecture, a non-profit, public interest architecture group.
"The Tennessee Valley Authority is recognized for building the dams and power plants that rehabilitated a large swath of the American South after the Depression, and for being one of the most comprehensive, well organized, and successful of FDR's New Deal programs. But less well known is its role in applying international Modernist ideas to the rural landscape of the South. An influx of European architects and engineers steered the agency toward an ornament-free industrial aesthetic, manifested in everything from the monumental raw-concrete dams to compact, efficient home-appliances. Six essays frame the TVA's output as a surprisingly cohesive body of work."
"...the book contains contemporary photos by Richard Barnes that evoke the Deco grandeur of the dams, the new expanses of open water and the harmonious imagery that accompanied them."
"A source of study and inspiration."
Architecture (rating 5 out of 5):
The architecture in the TVA is amazing. There is none like it elsewhere that I have seen. There are some old buildings and houses that need renovation but that can easily be done by replacing the wood siding with real brick. There is a company that does this called, Tru-Brix. They convert a wooden house into a brick home and it's not expensive. Anyways, anyone who's been to E.T. can testify about the great architecture there.