Game Theory is a branch of applied mathematics that analyses strategic situations where the success of one player's strategy depends on which strategy their opponent adopts. Despite the theory's pejorative associations with authoritarianism and Cold War paranoia, it remains an effective quantitative tool, and is increasingly finding uses among scholars looking at moments of conflict in history. To date, it has not been used in architectural research, possibly due to the qualitative nature of the field generally. The paper helps build a case for the use of game theory by architectural historians, by showing the theory's capacity to cast light on a particular conflict from the past, between Louis I. Kahn and the church building committee of the First Unitarian Church in Rochester, New York. From the maths, we can see that Kahn's desire to become famous, and the fact that his client's were complicit with this, were instrumental in the project ever reaching fruition. The paper furthers an immerging trend toward quantitative research in architecture, and the humanities generally, resulting from a disquiet with purely poststructuralist approaches. Where an ideologically framed study might ponder the absolute rightfulness or wrongfulness of Kahn's tactics in business, Game Theory asks what rewards or consequences awaited him as a rational self seeking player. It, proves axiomatic that, on the basis of probabilities, the rewards that can be yielded from strictly unethical tactics often outweigh any negative consequences.
27th International Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ 2010). Imagining ...: Proceedings of the 27th Annual SAHANZ Conference (Newcastle, N.S.W. 30 June - 2 July, 2010) p. 133-138