Aleksandr Bierig is an urban and architectural historian whose work focuses on interactions between the built environment, the natural environment, and political economy in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Britain.
He is currently working on a book based on his dissertation, The Ashes of the City: Architecture, Environment, and the Spatial Economy of Coal in Britain (1700–1849). The project examines connections between coal, architecture, infrastructure, and urbanization in eighteenth and early nineteenth-century London through a series of sites where the city’s fuel was extracted, transported, bought, sold, collected, taxed, and burned. These sites reveal the consequences of fossil fuel use across different scales, from changes to household heating, to the expanding bureaucratic and physical infrastructures of the fuel trade, to the construction of the 1849 London Coal Exchange, where the social and economic importance of coal was translated into monumental form. Other recent and ongoing work includes investigations into the artistic and scientific techniques of visual scaling in eighteenth-century America, the transformations of the cottage ideal in the nineteenth-century Anglo-settler world, and episodes in the history of forced ventilation between 1650 and 1850.
Bierig received his B.A. from Yale University, an M.Arch. from Princeton University, and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Past research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, the Society of Architectural Historians, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the Center for History and Economics, the Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative, the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, and the Mahindra Humanities Center. He has worked for architectural firms in the United States and Europe and his writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Architectural Histories, Journal18, Perspecta, Manifest, Log, The Architectural Review, Architectural Record, as well as a number of edited volumes. Currently, he is an editor-at-large at The Avery Review.