Mark Jarzombek, Professor of the History and Theory of Architecture, works on a wide range of historical topics from the 12th century to the modern era with a particular focus on nineteenth and twentieth century aesthetics, and the history and theory of architecture.
He is one of the country’s leading advocates for global history and has published several books and articles on that topic, including the ground-breaking textbook entitled A Global History of Architecture (Wiley Press, 2006) with co-author Vikram Prakash and with the noted illustrator Francis D.K. Ching. He is the sole author of Architecture of First Societies: A Global Perspective (Wiley Press, 2013), which is a sensitive synthesis of first society architecture through time and includes custom-made drawings, maps and photographs. The book builds on the latest research in archeological and anthropological knowledge while at the same time challenging some of their received perspectives.
His ground-breaking work on global architecture history is further highlighted by a million dollar grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that Jarzombek received to create a new scholarly entity called Global Architecture History Teaching Collaborative (GAHTC). Promoting the development and exchange of teaching materials for architectural history education across the globe, the collaborative provides awards to members and their teams to develop new lecture material from global perspectives.
Through EdX, Jarzombek taught the first ever MOOC (mass open online course) on the history of architecture with 25,000 people registering and 5,500 active participants, world-wide. It was among the most successful courses ever taught on the EdX platform to date.
Urban destruction in the modern era is another focus of Jarzombek's work. His Urban Heterology: Dresden and the Dialectics of Post-Traumatic History takes on the issue of how erasure and rebuilding in Dresden force us to rethink the conventions of urban history. The issue is also at the core of the book about Krzysztof Wodiczko, City of Refuge: A 9/11 Memorial, which Jarzombek edited with Mechtild Widrich. His is currently working on a book called Architecture Modernity Enlightenment that reassesses contemporary architecture from the perspective of Enlightenment philosophers.
He was a CASVA fellow (1985), Post-doctoral Resident Fellow at the J. Paul Getty Center for the History of Humanities and Art, Santa Monica, California (1986), a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ (1993), at the Canadian Center for Architecture (2001) and at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (2005). He serves on the board of several journals and academic institutions including the SSRC and the Buell Foundation, and was a member of the 2011 Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) "Excellence Initiative."
Jarzombek has organized several major international conferences on topics such as Holocaust Memorials, Architecture and Cultural Studies, and East European Architecture. He is the faculty editor of Thresholds, an annual peer-reviewed journal produced by the Department of Architecture and held in over 150 university art and architecture libraries around the world. The content features leading scholars and practitioners from the fields of architecture, art, and cultural studies.
"The Shanghai Expo and the Rise of Pop-Arch" Log 31 (Spring/Summer 2014), pp. 145-160. This paper challenges the hegemony of abstraction and points to architectural formations that have not been seen as valid from a theoretical formation. The paper coins the term Arch-Pop to try to focus our attention on a set of buildings that work with literalness as their design methodology.
Architecture of First Societies: A Global Perspective (Wiley Press, 2013). It is the first textbook in several decades to study the rich history of architectural production beginning from our first social formations some 200,000 years ago. The text moves from first societies to chiefdom cultures leading up to the fateful encounter with colonialism and other forms of modernity. The book is richly illustrated with photographs, custom-made drawings and maps.
"Kant, Modernity, and the Absent Public," in The Missed Encounter of Radical Philosophy with Architecture, edited by Nadir Lahiji (London: Bloomsbury, 2014), pp. 69-78.This article starts with a passage in Kant's Critique of Judgment to tease out of thought his perplexing critique of the concept of 'the public'. I trace this forward into the question of how we understand modernity and try to envision what a Kantian City would look like.
"Are We Homo Sapiens Yet? From Sapiens to Hunter/Gatherers" Thresholds 42 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Department of Architecture), pp 10-17. In this article, I sketch out the history of our attempt to conceptualize our early history (as in "homo sapiens," "Stone Age," "hunter-gatherers" etc.) in order to point to how the problem of that history stretches the limits of what 'history' can accomplish, especially when written from the perspective of a civilizational bias.