Architecture and Memory

  • Project: Architecture and Memory: The Renaissance Studioli of Federico da Montefeltro
  • Type: Multimedia online book
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (Gutenberg-e Series); American Council of Learned Societies Humanities E-Book, digital “reprint”
  • Year: 2008, 2013
  • Notes: Awarded Gutenberg-e Prize, nominated for Herbert Baxter Adams Prize

Perhaps the most unique and innovative of the Gutenberg-e titles was Robert Kirkbride’s Architecture and Memory: The Renaissance Studioli of Federico de Montefeltro […] The digital medium was a natural extension of an interdisciplinary approach that was central to [Kirkbride’s] research on two Renaissance memory chambers. Thanks to a matrix of text, notes, captions, images, indices, and galleries all linked to one another in a navigational grid, it was possible to read his book in linear fashion. But it was also possible to dip in and out, and that was the point. Kirkbride used interactive technology to recreate the process of associative thought common to Renaissance thinkers like the patrons and saints of the studioli but largely abandoned in the move to academic specialization in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries

– John Seaman and Margaret Graham, 2012 report assessing the origins, development, and impact of the Gutenberg-e digital publishing program on historical scholarship

Architecture and Memory is an open access online multimedia book about two Renaissance memory chambers, based on my dissertation research at McGill University and published by Columbia University Press. It received the Gutenberg-e Prize from the American Historical Association and was nominated for the Herbert Baxter Adams Prize. A second reformatted version has been launched online by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) as part of its Humanities E-Book series.

I designed Architecture and Memory to be read in multiple ways. Readers are encouraged to navigate across sections via text, footnotes, extended captions, images, indexes, and galleries: these devices extend ancient practices for forming associational links that are embedded in the walls of the studioli. At the time of their construction, the studioli embodied the leading edge in technologies of visual representation, through the arts of intarsia (wood inlay) and perspective. Translation of this research into the digital environment, with assistance from the Gutenberg-e Prize, technicians from Columbia University Press and students from Parsons School of Design, is a natural extension of its historical subject, offering an opportunity to explore how contemporary interactive technologies reactivate and transform ancient metaphors for thought and learning. A Preamble introduces readers to a navigational icon to journey through the book.


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7