Melvilla: An(other) underline reading

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Douglas Darden was not necessarily a scholar, but he was a reader of big books. Melville’s Moby-Dick, Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Hugo’s Notre Dame, and the poetry of Dante all play important roles in specific projects and appear often in his publication Condemned Building (Princeton Architectural Press, 1993). His work, however, did not simply reference great literature. Rather, he used the texts as sites, latent with potential meaning, from which to build architectural worlds. One such example is Melvilla, a library, archive, and reading room sited in New York City. Darden believed Moby-Dick to be the greatest American novel ever written in that it was the clearest representation of how one struggles between practical production and moral responsibility. The building, first conceived as a factory and a church, was intended to architectural-ize that struggle. Sited at the address in New York City in which Melville finished writing the novel, Darden refigures characters, plot lines, and intentions into architectural form. More than simply setting, one may, in fact, experience the novel as one descends into the building. Darden presented the work in a series of essays, each subtitled as “An Underline Reading,” which referenced the act of underlining important passages in book while making a close reading. This chapter will present a similarly close reading of Darden’s building to demonstrate how literature, and specifically the novel Moby-Dick, may be understood as a guide for making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationReading Architecture
Subtitle of host publicationLiterary Imagination and Architectural Experience
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781315402895
ISBN (Print)9781138224261
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Melvilla: An(other) underline reading'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this