Re-constructing the political and educational contexts of the METU Project

Yorgancıoğlu, Derya
This dissertation focuses on the roles played by the United Nations experts Charles Abrams and G. Holmes Perkins in the foundation of METU Faculty of Architecture. It aims to highlight the ideas and ideals that informed Abrams’s and Perkins’s METU projects, and to delineate an integrative and multifaceted picture of their political and educational contexts. This picture may serve as a basis for future researches on the institutional and educational histories of METU Faculty of Architecture. It may also help to better understand the contributions of other administrators and instructors -- including First Acting Dean Thomas B. A. Godfrey and Dean Abdullah Kuran -- who played important parts in the formation of the educational direction of the Faculty. Abrams, as a United Nations consultant, paved the way for the foundation of METU Faculty of Architecture by recommending a school of architecture and community planning in Ankara, for the education of professionals competent in responding to the problems caused by rapid industrial expansion and urbanization. Perkins contributed to the foundation process of METU Faculty of Architecture. As the head of the team of experts from the University of Pennsylvania School of Fine Arts, who were sent by the United Nations to Ankara in 1955, he advised the Government of Turkey on “the creation of a Faculty of Architecture, a Faculty of City and Regional Planning” and two research institutes, as a first step towards an institution of university rank, and with a view to promoting “a newer, more practical and modern approach to architecture and urban planning” in Turkey. In this dissertation, Abrams’s and Perkins’s METU projects constitute a starting point for exploring significant themes in the changing political and educational trajectories in America in the mid-twentieth century. The influence of different interpretations of the notions of democracy, individuality and society on technical assistance, urban development policies and architectural education is also investigated. Abrams’s professional and academic position as a “reflective practitioner” is appraised in the light of John Dewey’s concepts of democracy, democratic education and “reflective thinking.” The changing professional and societal roles of the architect and the changing demands upon architectural education in the 1950s framed the background of Perkins’s educational approach. The reappraisal of liberal education as part of professional education of the architect, the rising significance of an interdisciplinary pedagogical approach, and the development of “organized research” in architecture were among the major themes shaping new orientations in the field of architectural education in America in those years. In the dissertation, the lasting validity of these themes for today is highlighted.
Citation Formats
D. Yorgancıoğlu, “Re-constructing the political and educational contexts of the METU Project,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2010.