Sabbatical is great for, among other things, opening up a lot of freedom to a prof’s schedule that, granted, has a lot of flexibility to begin with. Even so, the spring break schedules for my university and my kids’ school never ever align, so we jumped at the chance this year to take a big splashy trip to Italy. In addition to sites I have been able to visit before, we toured through a few towns in Emilia-Romagna that were new to us, except for the many slides of famous buildings that were included in our Renaissance architecture class many, many years ago–but which, in part, inspired the start of this academic career.
Above: base of Le Due Torri, Bologna
I have spent most of my sabbatical time at home working on the editing process to finalize a manuscript that’s been underway for many years. I had the opportunity in January and February to engage in research in Washington DC that helped to finalize many details of this big project, but also lay the foundation for new work to come. Fellowships from the US Capitol Historical Society and the Smithsonian Institution supported my work in the Archives of the Architect of the Capitol, the Library of Congress, National Archives, and the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology. The latter is a relatively small place tucked into the Museum of American History. Its staff of two were incredibly helpful in serving up piles of resources from the nineteenth century. My main focus there was the history of the architecture and engineering professions, but it’s hard not to get sidetracked by illustrations of brick machines.
We may have missed the very first year of OHC, but have been regulars ever since. Open House Chicago is a great program organized by the Chicago Architecture Foundation that opens the doors of hundreds of buildings across the city for a big weekend of architectural indulgence. It’s very cool to see different corners of famous buildings in the Loop, but even better, I think, is the kick in the pants to get into the neighborhoods. This year, it was probably the churches of Ukrainian Village that made the biggest impression on me.
Above: St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, 1913
In January I will relocate to Washington, DC for a few months to narrow my focus on Walter-related research, starting a new project on the Capitol dome. I’m very excited to have recently received news that my application to the Dibner Library Resident Scholar Program was approved! I’m grateful for this support from the Smithsonian, which will add to the support awarded earlier by the US Capitol Historical Society for the same project.