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), showed 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), showed 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 boundaries and figures of thought drawn and redrawn by media complexes.
Martin continues to study historical relations between ideas and things. One current project joins architectural history, philosophical aesthetics, and symbolic form at the threshold of analytic and critical thought; another outlines a political ecology of energy and engineering, from petroleum geology in Texas, to microwave technologies in Silicon Valley, to photovoltaics in New Jersey.
Martin has also been a frequent public essayist on architecture, politics, urbanization, and climate change. At Columbia, Martin is a member of the Center for Comparative Media, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and the Committee on Global Thought, and is a former chair of the Society of Fellows / Heyman Center for the Humanities. At GSAPP, he is former director of the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture. He was also a founding co-editor of the interdisciplinary journal Grey Room.
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.