Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Char Miller

Reader 2

Marc Katz

Reader 3

Jeff Groves

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

2019 Eve A Kaufman


Colonizers settled the Los Angeles and the Southern California region in part by using Modernism’s visual rhetoric and propagandic implications during the time of suburban sprawl. Suburban sprawl refers to the mass single family home development which took place from the 1920[1]s until now but peaked from the 1970s to the 1990s. Los Angeles sprawl grew particularly in the 1950[2]s as soldiers returned from WWII. It was a way for middle class white families to accrue generational wealth and follow through on the American Dream[3].

The primary result however disenfranchised already marginalized groups. This happened through highly segregationist practices that still have ramifications today. Despite suburban sprawl’s negative social and environmental consequences (including for instance the dependency on automobiles to commute to work), suburban development was given ethos and morality through its adjunct cultural motifs and art. The idea of art acting as a moral grounding for humanity is an idea with foundations in German philosophy of aesthetics, something further corroborated by Tolstoys’s negative statement “The consequence of counterfeit art is the corruption of man, the insatiability of pleasures, the weakness of man’s spiritual force”[4]. In this region, the reigning morality included Organic architecture from the Taliesin school.

A collection of Jackson’s original blueprints were recently discovered following a flood in Jackson’s former house. By studying these blueprints, several previously unrecognized Jackson houses, each a masterpiece in their own right, have been located. We were able to photograph the houses as a result and meet the owners. Some owners allowed us access inside their homes to photograph, deepening our understanding of the works and providing a life to the sketches.

A series of five Jackson houses will serve to identify different notions of colonialism that operated in tandem with modern American ideals. The argument is solidified by investigating contemporary social ailments that exist on a continuum with these houses. Reflection through the lens of this architecture highlights the correlation between mid-century practices and problems today. This interplay is fueled by the aesthetic colonization that seeped into the rhetoric and mindset of the mid-century United States.

[1] Barrington-Leigh, Christopher, and Adam Millard-Ball. "A century of sprawl in the United States." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112, no. 27 (2015): 8244-8249.

[2] Historical Census Populations of Counties and Incorporated Cities in California, 1850–2010

[3] Rothstein, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. 2017

[4] Tolstoy, Leo. What is art?. Penguin UK, 1995.