Date of Award

December 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History

First Advisor

Katharine Wells

Committee Members

Jennifer Johun


This thesis examines the architectural practice of theorist, planner, architect, and activist Denise Scott Brown. Existing scholarship about the architect’s work is sparse and typically situates her as a significant figure due to her status as a woman working in a male-dominated field. To address this gap in scholarship, this thesis analyzes Scott Brown’s intellectual formation relative to her work on the Crosstown Community Advocacy Planning project carried out in Philadelphia in 1968 through the lens of performance theory. Her practice is considered a mediation between the archive and the repertoire as they are defined by performance studies scholar Diana Taylor. Taylor distinguishes the archive, comprised of “supposedly enduring material,” from the repertoire, which she defines as an ephemeral repository of embodied practice. Performance intervenes to highlight how the uncertain and temporal aspects of design explored by Scott Brown in her work for the Crosstown Community negotiated gaps in architectural concern. This thesis ultimately argues Denise Scott Brown navigated an architectural practice that subverted contemporaneous trends within the practice of architecture at large and reoriented the role of the architect away from that of a singular, male genius and toward that of a mediator.