Robert Bork

Art & Art History
The University of Iowa

Robert Bork, a specialist in the study of Gothic architecture, received a B.A. in physics from Harvard University, an M.S. in physics from the University of California-Santa Cruz, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in architectural history from Princeton University.  His publications include Great Spires: Skyscrapers of the New Jerusalem (2003), Gotische Türme in Mitteleuropa (2008), and The Geometry of Creation: Architectural Drawing and the Dynamics of Gothic Design (2011), along with numerous articles and three edited volumes.  His research on Gothic architecture has received support not only from the University of Iowa, but also from the American Philosophical Society, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Title: If you build it, they will come: collecting lessons from medieval architecture

Description: Medieval society invested heavily in the production of spectacular buildings, such as Gothic cathedrals, whose quality and scale far outstripped functional necessity.  Although that spending can be seen as wasteful in some respects, such buildings have defined the centers of their home communities for over five centuries, and they enhance their local economies even today by serving as tourist attractions and sources of revenue.  The history and reception of medieval architecture can thus offer an interesting perspective on questions of investment in architecture and the arts in the modern world.