Director of the Center for Material Culture Studies
Professor, Art History
206 Mechanical Hall
Newark, DE 19716
Sandy Isenstadt is an architectural historian whose interest in material culture is evident in his writings, which treat topics such as picture windows, refrigerators, landscape views, kitchen design and real estate appraisal. His current book project, “The Architecture of Artificial Light,” examines the novel luminous spaces introduced by electric lighting, with chapters on switches, automobile headlights, factory lighting, illuminating signage and blackouts. His classes reflect this interest, covering subjects such as memorials and monuments or the role of electricity in modern life, and even focused directly on architectural history, always underscore the material character of the built environment as well as its history, form and use.
Sandy Isenstadt teaches the history of modern architecture at the University of Delaware. He has published essays on post-World War II reformulations of modernism by well-known émigré architects Richard Neutra and Josep Lluis Sert, visual polemics in the urban proposals of Leon Krier and Rem Koolhaas, as well as essays on American material culture. Spatial perception in the built environment is the subject of The Modern American House: Spaciousness and Middle Class Identity, recipient of the 2009 Spiro Kostof Book Award from the Society of Architectural Historians. He has co-edited two volumes: Modernism and the Middle East. Politics of the Built Environment, published in Fall 2008, the first book-length treatment of modern architecture in the Middle East, and Cities of Light. Two Centuries of Urban Illumination, the first global overview of urban lighting, published in January 2015. His work has been recognized with fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, and the Institute for Advance Study, in Princeton, NJ. Prior to receiving his Ph.D. in architectural history from M.I.T., he was a practicing architect in Cambridge, Massachusetts and before that, worked in Manhattan and the Bronx in the low-income housing and non-profit economic development sectors.