Volker M. Welter

Volker M. Welter

Office Hours

Fall 2022: Wednesday, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Office Location

Arts 1228


Modern architecture; domestic architecture; patronage; histories of modernist, revival styles; and, sustainable architecture.


Ph.D. University of Edinburgh


Volker M. Welter is an architectural historian whose specializes in modern architecture from the 19th century onwards.  Working mainly on Californian, British, and German, but also current architecture, his research centers on domestic architecture, patronage, histories of modernist, revival styles, and sustainable architecture, and historiography of modern architecture. 

The subject matter of his research usually emerge from his ongoing work in archives where the unordered adjacencies of archival sources often inspire new projects.  He is interested in the ways architecture intersects on a smaller scale with individual human lives and on a larger scale with the environment.  His work combines detailed architectural historical analysis with biographical research and, when appropriate, philosophical, sociological and psychological (theories of spatial perception) thought contemporary to a research project’s focus.

Prof. Welter has received grants and fellowships from the Getty Grant Program, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and the Centre Canadien d'Architecture, Montreal.  Following on from Biopolis: Patrick Geddes and the City of Life (Cambridge, MA, 2002), he continues publishing on the Scotsman’s theories of the city.  His book Ernst L. Freud, Architect: The Case of the Modern Bourgeois Home (Oxford, 2012) reintroduced the architect son of Sigmund Freud into the history of European architectural modernism.  He is working on book on the patronage of mid-20th century domestic American architecture, compiling a history of the concept of Umwelt in relation to architecture, and researches how the battlefields of the Great War influenced the emergence of European architectural modernism in the 1920s. 


Volker M. Welter. Tremaine Houses: One Family’s Patronage of Domestic Architecture in Midcentury America. Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2019.Volker M. Welter. Walter S. White: Inventions in Midcentury Architecture. Santa Barbara: Art, Design & Architecture Museum, 2016.

Volker M. Welter. Ernst L. Freud und das Landhaus Frank: Ein Wohnhaus der Moderne bei Berlin. Berlin: Hentrich & Hentrich; [S.l.]: Centrum Judaicum, 2014.Volker M. Welter. Ernst L. Freud, Architect: The Case of the Modern Bourgeois Home. New York: Berghahn Books, 2011.

Volker M. Welter. Biopolis: Patrick Geddes and the City of Life. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2002.Volker M. Welter and James Lawson, eds. The City after Patrick Geddes. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2000.Christoph Fischer and Volker M. Welter. Fru?hlicht in Beton: Das Erbbegra?bnis Wissinger von Max Taut und Otto Freundlich in Stahnsdorf. Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag, 1989.

Volker M. Welter. "Rebuilding, Recovery, Reconceptualization: Modern architecture and the First World War."Link opens an external site In Revival After the Great War: Rebuild, Remember, Repair, Reform, edited by Luc Verpoest et al. (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2020), 107-121.

Volker M. Welter. "An Architect at War: Adrian Berrington and the Environment of the Modern Battlefield of the First World War."Link opens an external site RIHA Journal 0236 (January 30, 2020): online.

Volker M. Welter. “Restoration within Reach: The Miles C. Bates House, Palm Desert, California."Link opens an external site Western Humanities Review 72.3 (2018): 99-122.

Volker M. Welter. “SCHLOSS MURNAU, HOLLYWOODLAND, CA 90068.”Link opens an external site Cabinet: A Quarterly of Art and Culture, Issue 63: The Desert (2017): 41-49.

Volker M. Welter. “From the Landscape of War to the Open Order of the Kaufmann House: Richard Neutra and the Experience of the Great War.”Link opens an external site In The Good Gardener?: Nature, Humanity and the Garden, edited by Annette Giesecke, Naomi Jacobs, and Rick Darke (London: Black Dog Publishing, 2015), 216-233.

Volker M. Welter. "The Valley Region: From Figure of Thought to Figure on the Ground."Link opens an external site In New Geographies Journal 06: Grounding Metabolism, edited for Harvard University Graduate School of Design by Nikos Katsikis & Daniel Ibanez (Harvard University Press, 2014): 78-87.

Volker M. Welter. “Therapeutic Frontiers: The Tremaine Houses in Santa Barbara.”Link opens an external site Manifest: A Journal of American Architecture and Urbanism 1 (2013): 178-187.

Volker M. Welter. “From Disc to Sphere: Taking on the Whole Earth.”Link opens an external site Cabinet: A Quarterly of Art and Culture, Issue 40: Hair (Winter 2010/11): 19-25.


Undergraduate Courses

5A   Introduction to Architecture & Environment
136K   Modern Architecture in Early Twentieth-Century Europe
136L   From Modernism to Post-Modernism in European Architecture
136M   Revival Styles in Southern Californian Architecture
136O   Sustainable Architecture: History and Aesthetics
136Y   Modern Architecture in Southern California, 1890s to the Present
137AA   Architecture and Monumentality in the 20th Century
141G   The Architecture of Museums and Galleries from c. 1800 to the Present
186SV   Seminar in Modern Architecture (undergraduate seminar)
                    Topics include: "Animal Buildings," "Architecture and Biography," "Bauhaus in California"
186W   Historiography: Readings in the Historiography of Modern Western Architecture (undergraduate seminar)
186Y   Seminar in Architecture and Environment (undergraduate seminar)
                    Topics include: "Charles Moore in California," "State Street Santa Barbara," "Reading Twentieth-Century Modern Architecture," "Palm Springs Modern"
Tel Aviv — Modern City (undergraduate seminar)
Campus Architecture (undergraduate seminar)
Santa Barbara Architects (undergraduate seminar)

Graduate Seminars

2015   Loot, Spolia, Exhibit: Whose Patrimony is it, anyway?
2014   "this is tomorrow" — Rethinking Architecture, Art, and Life in Post‐World War 2 London
2013   Architectural History between Microhistory and Biography
2011   After Modernism: The Emergence of Post-Modernism in Architecture
2009   Domesticity and Interiority in the 19th and 20th Century
2008   Reading of Space and Spatiality: Aesthetics, Gestaltpsychology, Sociology, Phenomenology, Art History, Theory of Architecture
2007   The Architecture of Museums and Painting Galleries
2005   Expressionism in German Architecture
2005   History and Theory of Conservation and Restoration in Architecture
2004   Organic, Biological, and Natural Metaphors in Architecture
2003   Gazing at the (Urban) Environment