What is the status of the “big book” today? The editors of Architecture School, along with the board of advisers of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture—which initiated the book to celebrate its 100th anniversary—must have asked that question often while preparing this massive survey. As the field of architecture education develops, its historical territory becomes ever more populated by experts, which creates a culture of hesitancy about all things big. In that context, the implications of undertaking a “definitive” book like this must have been daunting and possibly paralyzing.
Yet the effort comes off well, for the most part. Led by the respected scholar Joan Ockman, contributors are largely well known, often returning to previous research. Ockman begins by stating the book's aim: to "open up as many avenues as possible for future inquiry and, in doing so, to work against the tendency to produce a canonical history." The project's internal tensions could not be more neatly expressed.