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Adapting Modern Architecture to a Local Context: A Grammar for Hajjar's Hybrid Domestic Architecture

The purpose of this study is to analyze Abraham William Hajjar's single-family houses in State College, PA, using shape grammar as a computational design methodology. Hajjar was a member of the architecture faculty at the Pennsylvania State College (now The Pennsylvania State University or simply Penn State), a practitioner in State College and an influential figure in the history of architecture in the area.

Shape grammar is specifically used to verify and describe influences on Hajjar's domestic architecture from modern architecture and traditional American architecture. On the basis of this hybridity between modern and traditional architecture in the work of Hajjar, this architectural phenomenon is compared and contrasted with both the modern architecture of the time, as defined by Hitchcock and Johnson (1932) and the traditional American architecture in the area. Via computational design methodology, this comparison will provide information to identify and establish the single-family architectural language of Hajjar and to verify and describe the hybridity between modern architecture and traditional architecture in his work.

The theoretical outcomes of this study answer these central questions in regard to the methodology and the context: Can shape grammars be used to verify and describe the possible hybridity between modern and traditional architecture in Hajjar's work? And, more broadly, can shape grammars be used to describe architectural hybridity phenomena in general? And, what influence did the social and technological contexts have on the layout of the houses designed by Hajjar?

Project type: 
Dissertation / Thesis
Project duration: 
August, 2014 to August, 2019
Team: 
PhD candidate: Mahyar Hadighi
Dissertation committee: José Duarte, Loukas Kalisperis, James Cooper, Ali Memari, Anne Verplanck