Ford’s Architects

author: Vladimir Kulić, School of Architecture, Florida Atlantic University
published: Dec. 1, 2015,   recorded: November 2015,   views: 1260


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The paper will discuss the variety of influences that the American Ford Foundation had on Yugoslav architecture in the 1960s. A quintessential instrument of the “cultural Cold War,” the Foundation developed a strong presence in the country already in the late 1950s, most persistently by funding the prolonged trips of prominent Yugoslavs to the United States. The goal of these visits was to introduce the leading political and cultural figures to the “American way of life” as a way of instilling in them the values of Western liberal democracy and preventing Yugoslavia from slipping back into the Soviet camp. A number of architects participated in this program, most notably the six young Macedonian practitioners who were invited to the most prestigious universities in the US as a form of aid in the wake of the 1963 Skopje earthquake. Certain buildings also greatly benefited from the program: for example, the functional design and organization of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade were heavily influenced by the visit of the museum’s founding director, Milan Protić, to New York in 1962. However, Ford’s most sustained influence on the architectural profession was through the so-called AmericanYugoslav Project in Urban and Regional Planning, which the foundation funded between 1966 and the early 1970s. Headquartered in Ljubljana and directed by Vladimir Mušič from the Slovenian side and by Jack Fisher from the US side, the Project aimed at serving as a hub for the dissemination of the American urban planning expertise not just in Yugoslavia, but in all of Eastern Europe. Relying on the new research at the Ford Foundation Archives, this paper will map the US influence on Yugoslav architects by mapping the foundation’s activities in the country.

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