University of Calgary

David Monteyne

  • Professor
  • Graduate Program Director

Currently Teaching

Not currently teaching any courses.


B.A. (UBC); M.A.S.A., History and Theory of Architecture (UBC); PhD, American Studies (Minnesota).

Personal Statement

My training is in architectural history and cultural studies, but I have always thought of myself as an urbanist, studying buildings, sites, monuments, public spaces, and landscapes in relation to a broadly-defined context.

In 1995, I completed a Master’s degree in the School of Architecture at UBC, then worked five years as a lecturer, heritage researcher, and architecture librarian. In 2000, I began a PhD in American Studies at the University of Minnesota. I chose American Studies as a result of my search for critical, interdisciplinary methods for understanding social space. My dissertation came out as a book in 2011 with the University of Minnesota Press.

Through an engagement with cultural and political history, I seek to specify the different techniques and processes by which space is produced through social relations. Critical architectural history seeks to research the built environment as a creative cultural phenomenon not limited to singular structures or famous architects. This scholarship has begun to incorporate analytic categories such as race and gender, thereby adding relations of identity and power to its examination of the meanings and uses of spaces and places. In my work, a specific focus has been the relationship between built environments and national identity.

A long-term research goal concerns the most general question of my work, which is the relation between space and subject formation. Much scholarship has addressed the creation of spaces by designers, and the phenomenological experience of spaces by individuals. In contrast, understanding the role of the everyday spatial practice of subjects in producing the built environment is one of the most under-studied questions facing architectural and urban design history. A new research project on Canadian cultural landscapes seeks to address this question through research on spaces of immigration.

Selected Work

  • “Pier 21 and the Production of Canadian Immigration” in Carolyn Loeb and Andres Luescher, eds., The Design of Frontier Spaces: Control and Ambiguity (Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2015), 109-128.

  • “Certain Uncertainties: Architecture and Building Security in the 21st Century,” in Benjamin Flowers, ed., Architecture in an Age of Uncertainty (Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2014), 87-100.

  • Fallout Shelter: Designing for Civil Defense in the Cold War. University of Minnesota Press, 2011.
  • “Boston City Hall and a History of Reception,” Journal of Architectural Education 65:1 (October 2011), p. 45-62
  • “Framing the American Dream,” Journal of Architectural Education 58:1 (September 2004), p. 24-33.
  •  “Shelter From The Elements: Architecture and Civil Defense in the Early Cold War,” The Philosophical Forum XXXV:2 (Summer 2004), p. 179-199.
  • “‛From Canvas to Concrete in Fifty Years,’ The Construction of Vancouver City Hall, 1935-6." BC Studies 124 (Winter 1999/2000), p. 41-68.
  • “Constructing Buildings and Histories, Hudson’s Bay Company Department Stores, 1910-1930,” SSAC Bulletin SEAC 20:4 (December 1995), p. 97-103.

Book Reviews for Fallout Shelter

“It is a wonderful demonstration of how historical inquiry can expose level upon level of social construction through the detailed examination of a contained topic. By the book’s end we have encountered a full assessment of the architectural profession’s relationship to the civil defense establishment, and we have also taken a journey through early Cold War American domestic history.”

Robert Jacobs, American Historical Review

Fallout Shelter confirms that the quest for governmental control resides not only in legislation but also in the manipulation of the ordinary spaces that surround us every day.”

Sarah Lichtman, Journal of Design History

“A volume that...contributes to broader conversations about professional conduct, government surveillance, and social implications of technological change.”

Sharon Irish, Technology and Culture

“Monteyne’s fascinating look at this inglorious chapter in American history may be a cautionary tale.”

Anthony Paletta, Metropolis.

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