Reinhold Martin is a historian of architecture and media, and Professor of Architecture in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP) at Columbia University.
From early work on the history of corporate architecture in the United States to recent work on universities as media complexes, Martin has studied the material and cognitive infrastructures of cultural, technological, and political-economic modernity. His first book, The Organizational Complex (2003), shows how architecture, the visual arts, cybernetics, and the social sciences formed an organizing nexus within the post-World War II military-industrial complex; his second book, Utopia’s Ghost (2010), shows how the postmodern injunction against structural change, derived from this corporate complex, failed fully to exorcise the architectural “ghosts” of utopian thought and praxis. Shifting scales, The Urban Apparatus (2016) charts a mediapolitics of the contemporary city in a series of essays on the infrastructures of global urbanization. Most recently, Knowledge Worlds (2021) reconstructs the uneven transition from liberal to neoliberal reason across two centuries in colleges and universities in the United States, as a history of material and intellectual boundaries drawn and redrawn by media complexes.
Continuing to study relations between ideas and things, Martin is currently working on two projects: an intellectual history of philosophical aesthetics, architecture, and symbolic form between ideation and ideology; and a media history of utility, usefulness, and use value in political ecology, from petroleum geology to microwave technologies to photovoltaics.
At Columbia, Martin is a member of the Center for Comparative Media, the Committee on Global Thought, and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and is a former chair of the Society of Fellows / Heyman Center for the Humanities. At GSAPP, he directed the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture from 2008 to 2021. Martin was also a founding co-editor of the interdisciplinary journal Grey Room, and has been a frequent public essayist on architecture, politics, urbanization, and climate change both online and in print.
Among numerous awards and fellowships, Martin is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from the Eesti Kunstiakadeemia / Estonian Academy of Arts. He holds a PhD from Princeton University, a Grad.Dipl from the Architectural Association, and a B.Arch from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
For over a decade Martin collaborated with Kadambari Baxi in an art-based architecture partnership; their work has been exhibited and published internationally.