PERSONAL: Born in Australia. Education: B.S.; M.S.; Ph.D. Hobbies and other interests: Lounge music, cats, walking, cooking.
ADDRESSES: Home—16 Piper St., Annandale, New South Wales, 2038 Australia.
CAREER: Architectural sociologist. Formerly research associate at University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Founder, Key Centre for Architectural Sociology. Designer of family historical board games, including Mesopotamia, Bloody Mary, Richard III, and Henry VII.
(With Antony Radford) CADD Made Easy: A Comprehensive Guide for Architects and Designers, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1987.
The Reasoning Architect: Mathematics and Science in Design, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1990.
The Favored Circle: The Social Foundations of Architectural Distinction, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1998.
SIDELIGHTS: Garry Stevens founded the Key Centre for Architectural Sociology to conduct research into architectural schools, education, and history; and on architects and society. His first book, CADD Made Easy: A Comprehensive Guide for Architects and Designers, which was cowritten with Antony Radford, was a seminal work on computer-aided drafting and design when the field was in the early stages of its development. In his next book, The Reasoning Architect: Mathematics and Science in Design, Stevens examines the history of architecture not in an artistic sense, but in a way that is based in the logic of science and mathematics. According to G. F. Hisel in Choice, Stevens performed "a great service" for the architectural profession in writing The Reasoning Architect. Hisel allowed that most architects would find the book hard to understand, but believed that scientists, mathematicians, and those in other logical disciplines would gain "welcome enlightenment" from its pages.
In The Favored Circle: The Social Foundations of Architectural Distinction Stevens stirred controversy with his analysis of how the architectural profession operates. Offering statistical evidence to back his claims, he argues that a cultured, affluent male elite has set up career pathways in such a way that only their own kind can reach the top. In stating his thesis, Stevens uses the methods of the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. Having subjected the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architecture to a painstaking analysis, he uses the data to analyze the history of architecture since 1400, looks at relationships between master architects and their students, and maps out patterns of tension and struggle between various factions of the architectural world. He concludes that the ruling classes use architecture to symbolize their power. "The Favored Circle is a welcome attempt to expand the field from a sociological point of view," affirmed Jeremy Melvin in Times Literary Supplement. "In so doing it suggests why the world of architecture is so closed and private."
Noting the "strong views" the author presents in The Favored Circle, a reviewer for Architecture Australia commented: "It's all healthy food for thought, but cooked to stick in the throat." According to Daniel S. Friedman in Architecture, the book "offers litigants an indispensable reference in the quarrel between art and science. Stevens' sociology adds often illuminating statistical evidence of structural inequities in professional education and culture." Allowing that the author sometimes overstates his arguments, Friedman added that, nevertheless, Stevens's case is "startling and insightful. He sheds new light on old problems in architecture."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Architecture, January, 1999, Daniel S. Friedman, review of The Favored Circle: The Social Foundations of Architectural Distinction, p. 39.
Architecture Australia, January, 2000, review of The Favored Circle, p. 30.
Choice, October, 1990, G. F. Hisel, review of The Reasoning Architect: Mathematics and Science in Design, p. 298.
Times Literary Supplement, April 9, 1999, review of The Favored Circle, p. 37.
Key Centre for Architectural Sociology Web site, http://www.archsoc.com/kcas/ (February 2, 2005).