Joseph L. Clarke

Associate Professor

On Leave

July 01, 2023 to June 30, 2024
Sidney Smith Hall, Room 6055


Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

  • Architecture since the 18th century
  • Modern architectural theory
  • Media archaeology and sound studies


I am interested in how modern buildings and cities relate to the design methods and intellectual frameworks of architecture as a discipline. Much of my scholarly work draws on media theory to explore how architectural ideas are represented and disseminated, and how buildings themselves facilitate (or frustrate) communication. This interest is reflected in my book Echo’s Chambers: Architecture and the Idea of Acoustic Space (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021), the first major English-language study to explore how acoustic experimentation has been entangled with the history of architectural form, type, and visualization.

Currently, my main research project looks at experimental open-plan offices from the 1960s in relation to debates about communication, teamwork, and the knowledge economy. For a parallel line of research, I am studying how claims made in the 1970s and 80s for architectural autonomy reflected the liberal values of procedural rigour and skepticism toward utopia. Another of my current interests is expressions of the sacred in modern and contemporary architecture.

Before becoming an art historian, I was trained as a designer and practiced architecture at Eisenman Architects and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. At the University of Toronto, my teaching and graduate supervision span various topics in nineteenth- and twentieth-century architecture. I organize the Architectural History Working Group and co-organize the project Canada Constructed: Architecture, Landscape, History.


Recent Courses

  • Introduction to Modern Architecture (undergraduate, FAH272)
  • Architectural Modernism, 1890-1968 (undergraduate, FAH373)
  • Art and Ideas (undergraduate, FAH102)
  • Modern Architecture and its Representations (graduate, FAH1759)
  • Acoustic Space (graduate, FAH1756)
  • Architectural History I (graduate, ARC1031)
  • Architectural History II (graduate, ARC1032)

Selected Publications

  • Echo’s Chambers: Architecture and the Idea of Acoustic Space (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021).
  • “Too Much Information: Noise and Communication in an Open Office,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 82.3 (December 2023).
  • “Ear Building: Zuhören durch moderne Architektur,” in Listening/Hearing, ed. Carsten Seiffarth and Raoul Mörchen (Mainz: Schott, 2022), 235–51.
  • “The Electronic Campanile at Ronchamp,” in The Sound of Architecture: Acoustic Atmospheres in Place, ed. Angeliki Sioli and Elisavet Kiourtsoglou (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2022), 131–44.
  • “Acoustic Naturalism,” Aeon, October 5, 2021,
  • “That Great Brouhaha: Picturing Sound in Nineteenth-Century France,” in Impressionism in the Age of Industry, ed. Caroline Shields (New York: Prestel, 2019), 50–59.

Honours/Awards or Grants Received

  • Research Fellow, Canadian Centre for Architecture (Montreal), 2021
  • Learning & Education Advancement Fund Grant, University of Toronto, “Canada Constructed: Teaching Canadian Architectural History,” 2020–23 (with Christy Anderson)
  • SSHRC Insight Grant, “Open Office Design and the Acoustics of the Knowledge Economy, 1960–1980,” 2018–22
  • Visiting Scholar, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (Berlin), 2018


Jospeh Clarke Book Covers - Echo's Chambers & Grey Room 60


PhD, Yale University, 2014
MArch, University of Cincinnati, 2006

Administrative Service

Associate Chair and Director of Undergraduate Studies, 2022–2023