Beginning with the first telephone call placed by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876 and the first public radio broadcast by Reginald Fessenden in 1906, the technologies of private and mass communication developed during the early Modernist period marked a radical transformation in human social behavior by greatly diminishing historical barriers to human interaction such as time, space, and geographical distance.
Following the commercialization of the Internet in the mid 1990s, early social media platforms such as Geocities, Friendster, and Myspace – quickly supplanted by today’s more popular platforms of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – further revolutionized social habits and modes of mass communication, making these aforementioned barriers all but obsolete.
This obsoletion of physical space, which questions historical models of face-to-face socialization in the built environment, is explored in this thesis as central to an interrogation of the future role of site-specific architecture in the wake of newly-invented and globalized social media. This thesis claims that while this rupture in society’s preferred modes of socialization immediately exposed lag and deficiencies in the contemporary makeup of the built environment, it also revealed new territories in which architects might begin to operate and ask new questions. Rather than see physical site-specificity and digital ubiquity as opposing elements, this thesis concludes by proposing a new typology of architecture that mediates the gap between the two, erasing boundaries between the physical and the digital through the creation of a third ‘middle’ space in which architecture itself functions as an instrument of mass communication.