This postcard features an image photographed by Heinrich Hoffmann. The scene shows a view out the window of the Great Hall in Adolf Hitler’s country home on the Obersalzberg, circa 1936. Courtesy Despina Stratigakos
Despina Stratigakos is an architectural historian, author and professor in the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning. Her books explore the intersections of power and architecture, and she has published widely on issues of diversity in architecture.
Stratigakos will present a lecture at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26, in Ken and Linda Sue Shollmier Hall, Room 250 of Vol Walker Hall, on the University of Arkansas campus, as part of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design lecture series.
In her lecture, titled “Hitler’s Home Makeover: How Interior Design and Media Fluff Helped Sell a Dictator,” Stratigakos will discuss how Adolf Hitler’s inner circle refashioned his private persona in the mid-1930s, transforming him in the eyes of the world’s media from oddball bachelor to country gentleman. Domestic architecture played a key role in that public makeover, which coincided with renovations of Hitler’s three residences – the Old Chancellery in Berlin, his apartment in Munich, and the Berghof, his mountain home on the Obersalzberg.
Stratigakos will discuss how positive lifestyle stories focusing on the off-duty Hitler and the warmth and elegance of his homes appeared not only in German newspapers and magazines, but also in the foreign press, including in The New York Times, Homes and Gardens and Life magazine. By the eve of World War II, this coverage had created a powerful image of the private Hitler as a gentle, refined man – an image that has been given new life today by the internet. Design historians have largely ignored Hitler’s domestic spaces as either too mundane or kitschy to deserve scholarly attention. This talk makes the case for taking them seriously, both as design and propaganda, and for historians’ responsibility to deconstruct their lingering power.
Stratigakos received her Doctor of Philosophy from Bryn Mawr College and taught at Harvard University and the University of Michigan before joining the Department of Architecture at the University at Buffalo. Stratigakos was a member in residence at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 2016-17.
In 2007, she curated an exhibition on Architect Barbie at the University of Michigan to focus attention on gendered stereotypes within the architectural profession. In 2011, she collaborated with Mattel on the development and launch of Architect Barbie in the Barbie I Can Be series.
Her book Where Are the Women Architects? (2016) confronts the challenges women face in the architectural profession. Hitler at Home (2015) investigates the architectural and ideological construction of Hitler’s domesticity. A Women’s Berlin: Building the Modern City (2008), which traces the history of a forgotten female metropolis, won the German Studies Association DAAD Book Prize and the Milka Bliznakov Research Prize.
Stratigakos has served as a director of the Society of Architectural Historians, advisor
of the International Archive of Women in Architecture at Virginia Tech, trustee of
the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation and deputy director of the Gender Institute
at the University at Buffalo. She also participated on Buffalo’s municipal Diversity
in Architecture taskforce and was a founding member of the Architecture and Design
Academy, an initiative of the Buffalo Public Schools to encourage design literacy
and academic excellence.
This is the 2018 Histories of Architecture and Design lecture.
This lecture has been approved for continuing education credits through the American Institute of Architects.
The public is invited to attend. Admission is free, with limited seating.