Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Art History


Kevin Murphy

Subject Categories

Architecture | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Urban Studies and Planning


In the 1920s and 1930s, Eliel Saarinen, Richard Neutra, and Frank Lloyd Wright each designed plans for real and imagined American cities. Saarinen's Chicago and Detroit plans of 1923-1924, Neutra's Rush City Reformed of 1926, and Wright's Broadacre City of 1935 are stylistically unique but all contain a similar fascination with hypothetical transportation networks and high-speed expansion that reflect a common relationship to the development of urban planning as a discrete field in Berlin and Vienna around 1910.

This dissertation will highlight several features of turn-of-the-century Central European planning that played an outsize role in the development of these visionary responses to machine-age American urbanism, including suburban extension and infrastructure projects, municipal planning exhibitions, and a model of metropolitan expansion propagated by Otto Wagner. It will also root Saarinen's, Neutra's, and Wright's plans in their immediate context of interwar Chicago and Los Angeles, where the effects of the car and associated changes to the cityscape provided a rich backdrop for futuristic design. Finally, the dissertation will examine what these urban plans reveal about the perceptions of the new American car culture among modern architects.