Michael Abrahamson, Ph.D. (he/his)
ARCH 3010 Architectural Studio I
ARCH 3211 Survey of World Architecture II
ARCH 4270 Architectural Theory
ARCH 6275 Architectural Theory
ARCH 6817 Research Methods II
Dr. Michael Abrahamson is an award-winning architectural historian and critic whose research explores the materiality of buildings and the methods of architectural practice across the twentieth century. Through these lenses, his writing reveals the systems of creativity, subordination, and legitimation that undergird the creation of architecture in the professional office and on the construction site. His Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Michigan centered on four critical projects by the late modernist architectural firm Gunnar Birkerts and Associates, in an attempt to square the assertions of authorial individuality preferred by its figurehead with the day-to-day bureaucratic work of those he employed. He is currently at work on a book project based on this research titled The Introspective Professional: Practicing Architecture Between Genius and Bureaucracy. The book will intertwine methods from business and labor history with cultural studies to narrate the history of post-WWII practice in the United States, using Gunnar Birkerts and Associates as its primary case study.
Michael published the peer-reviewed research article “Actual Center of Detroit” in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, which unpacked the distinctive design for that city’s General Motors Building prepared by Albert Kahn Associates. He received the Society of Architectural Historians’ Founders Award for this article in 2020. His writing has appeared in the journals San Rocco, Pidgin, Project Journal, and the Journal of Architectural Education, the magazines The Architectural Review, CLOG and Take Shape, as well as the newspaper The Sunday Times (London). In addition, Michael has published exhibition catalog essays about the ideological and political aspects of the architectural style known as Brutalism for the Deutsches Architekturmuseum Frankfurt’s SOS Brutalism, as well as the use of concrete panel construction methods in the United States for ArkDes Stockholm’s Flying Panels. He co-edited issue VIII of the School of Architecture’s journal Dialectic on the theme of subverting, which received a publication grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.
Michael is currently an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Utah, where he has taught history surveys, research and professional practice seminars, as well as design studios. He has previously taught at Kent State University and as a graduate student instructor at the University of Michigan. In addition to his Ph.D., Michael holds a professional B.Arch from Kent State University and a master’s degree in architecture criticism from the Ohio State University.
Ph.D. in History and Theory of Architecture, University of Michigan, 2019
Master of Architectural Studies in Criticism, Ohio State University, 2009
Bachelor of Architecture, Kent State University, 2007
Materiality and Tectonics in Architecture
Histories of Twentieth Century Architecture
History and Theory of Professional Practice
Labor and Business History
The Introspective Professional: Practicing Architecture Between Genius and Bureaucracy—A book project based on my dissertation research narrating the evolution of the profession between 1950 and 1990 through the example of Gunnar Birkerts and Associates
The Masterplan at Midcentury: Soft Power and the Politics of Architectural Expertise, 1945-1975—A collaboratively-written book project focused on the political entanglements and influence of master planning, written with Joss Kiely (Assistant Professor, University of Cincinnati)
Publication: “Seeking Other Solidarities,” Journal of Architectural Education v. 74, n. 2: Othering (Fall 2020), 319-323.
Award: Society of Architectural Historians Founders’ Award for best Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians article of the past two years by an emerging scholar for “Actual Center of Detroit”
Grant: Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, 2020 Grant to Organization for Dialectic VIII: Subverting—Unmaking Architecture?