Is There Such a Thing as a Midcentury Personality?

Sixty years ago, some of the world’s most famous modernist architects submitted themselves to an in-depth personality test.  Now there’s a new book that maps the mind of the creative architect.

When Saarinen, Neutra, Kahn, Johnson, Nelson and about forty other modernist architects made the trip to Berkeley for a three-day battery of tests back in the 1950s, little did they know that it would take several decades before someone would make anything of the investigation.

Staff in the IPAR kitchen, c. 1961. Photo courtesy of The Monacelli Press and the Institute of Personality and Social Research, University of California, Berkeley
Staff in the IPAR kitchen, c. 1961. Photo courtesy of The Monacelli Press and the Institute of Personality and Social Research, University of California, Berkeley

Author and educator Pierluigi Serrainos has delved into the watershed of the Institute of Personality Assessment and Research (IPAR) files, studying questionnaires, aptitude tests, and interview transcripts to reveal how these great architects evaluated their own creativity and that of their peers.  In his latest book, The Creative Architect: Inside the Great Midcentury Personality Study, Serraino – himself, a practicing architect – charts the development, implementation, and findings of this historic study, producing what is essentially the first cohesive extrapolation of this fascinating and forgotten moment in architecture, psychology, and American history.

The architects submitted themselves to a three-day assessment, photo via the San Francisco Chronicle.
The architects submitted themselves to a three-day assessment, photo via the San Francisco Chronicle.

So is there such a thing as a midcentury personality?  You’ll have to attend Serraino’s talk at CAMP (tickets available here) to find out.  Following the presentation, Pierluigi Serraino will sign copies of his book.

Author and educator Pierluigi Serraino is also a practicing architect.
Author and educator Pierluigi Serraino is also a practicing architect.

 

No Comments Yet

Comments are closed