Christina E. Crawford

Christina E. Crawford

Presented with the History, Theory and Criticism program.

"Soviet Industrial Architecture + Its Afterlife in Eastern Ukraine"

Christina E. Crawford provides historical context for Russia’s present-day destruction of industrial architecture in Eastern Ukraine through focus on Kharkiv, the first capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (1919-34). In the 1920s and ‘30s, during Stalin’s first Five-Year Plan for industrialization, Soviet authorities invested heavily in capital projects in Kharkiv and the Donbas, a territory rich in the natural commodities of iron ore, coal, and grain. A late-breaking decision to construct a tractor factory on Kharkiv’s outskirts pushed Ukrainian architects to embrace intense design standardization not only for the factory, but for its residential sector as well. New Kharkiv, the so-called socialist city designed by Ukrainian architects for tractor factory workers, utilized standardized housing, social service buildings, and even repeatable urban blocks to ensure swift construction. Industrial architecture innovations developed with the help of American technical consultants at New Kharkiv were then harnessed by the increasingly centralized Soviet planning regime to quickly construct other industrial enterprises in the region. The Azovstal Steel Factory in Mariupol, where Ukrainian soldiers made a final stand against Russian occupiers in Spring 2022, too, has its roots in the early Soviet period, as this talk will discuss.

Christina E. Crawford is an architectural and urban historian, a trained architect, and Masse-Martin NEH Professor of Art History at Emory University. Her research focuses on the transnational exchange of ideas about housing and urban form in the twentieth century. Her first book, Spatial Revolution: Architecture and Planning in the Early Soviet Union (Cornell University Press, 2022), follows the development of socialist urban theory and practice in three seminal industrial sites: Baku, Azerbaijan; Magnitogorsk, Russia; and Kharkiv, Ukraine. She is co-editor of Detroit-Moscow-Detroit: An Architecture for Industrialization, 1917-1945 (MIT Press, 2023), and is currently writing a book about the Interwar/New Deal exchange of housing design expertise between the U.S. and Europe using Atlanta as a primary node. Crawford received her Ph.D. and M.Arch. from Harvard University, and her B.A. from Yale University. She was a Fulbright student in Kyiv in 2001-2002, during which she researched the emergence of post-independence Ukrainian architecture.

Lectures are free and open to the public. This lecture will be held in-person only. It will not be streamed. Registration required to attend in-person. Register here


All HTC Forum Events are organized by the History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art and made possible in part by the Lipstadt-Stieber Fund.