Ralph Ghoche

Ralph Ghoche

Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture


Architecture Department


500K Diana Center
Thursdays 4-5pm; Fridays 10-11am. NOTE: Meetings will be on Zoom until further notice.


Ralph Ghoche is a historian of 19th-century architecture and urbanism. His current research looks at the territorial interventions of the Catholic Church in Colonial Algeria in the 19th century. It examines how the Church reshaped urban space in Algiers through the construction, conversion and erasure of buildings in order to advance its aim of resurrecting Augustinian Christendom in North Africa. The topic is explored in “Erasing the Ketchaoua Mosque: Catholicism, Assimilation and Civic Identity in France and Algeria,” in Neocolonialism and Built Heritage, edited by Daniel Coslett and series editor, Anthony D. King. Ghoche has also written widely on French architecture and its relationship to theories of ornament, archeology and aesthetics in the 19th century. His book-length study of these themes will be published by McGill-Queen’s University Press in 2020. His writings have appeared in Architectural HistoriesThe Journal of Architectural EducationHarvard Design MagazineTarp Architecture Manual, and as chapters in the Blackwell Companion to Nineteenth-Century Architecture and De l’Orient à la mathématique de l’ornement: Jules Bourgoin (1838-1908). His research has received generous support from the the National Gallery of Art’s Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA), The Whiting Foundation, the Canadian Center for Architecture, the Getty Foundation, and Columbia University's Institute for Ideas and Imagination in Paris. 

Ghoche has taught at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Pratt Institute, and Vassar College. At Barnard College, he teaches on a wide range of topics, including courses on landscape theory and ecology (City, Landscape and Ecology), utopian urbanism (Utopias and Counter-Utopias), diasporas and the city (Urban Dislocations and the Architecture of Diasporas, co-taught with Ignacio Galán), architecture and the biological metaphor (Architecture and Organicism), surveillance and society (Vision, Surveillance and Power), as well as a survey of modern architecture and urbanism (Modernity in Architecture and Urban Culture).

He holds professional and post-professional degrees in architecture from McGill University and a PhD in architectural history and theory the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University.

  • Institute for Ideas and Imagination Fellowship, Columbia University
  • Inclusive Teaching Grant, Barnard College (Funded Course: Urban Dislocations and the Architecture of Diasporas)
  • Library Research Grant, The Getty Foundation, Los Angeles.
  • Faculty Research Grant, Barnard College. Research title: Narratives of Global Expansion: French Architecture in Algeria during the Second Empire
  • Chester Dale Fellowship, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts,  The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
  • Whiting Fellowship, The Whiting Foundation, New York (partial acceptance).
  • Collections Research Grant, Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal.
  • Visual Arts Grant, Canada Council for the Arts, Ottawa.

Presentations / Recent Lectures

April 17, 2020 / Conversation with Samia Henni on Architecture of Counterrevolution: The French Army in Northern Algeria ( Zürich, gta Verlag, 2017) / Columbia University's Institute for Ideas & Imagination, Reid Hall, Paris.

March 10, 2020, 3:30 - 5:30 PM / "Cruce et Aratro” : les interventions urbaines de l'Église Catholique à Alger / Arts visuel, décoratifs et monumentaux au Maghreb et au Moyen-Orient, Forum organized by INVISU & CNRS (N. Atallah, J. Hueber, C. Piaton, M. Volait. INHA), Paris.

March 9, 2020, 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM  / Incidental Archaeologists: French Officers and the Rediscovery of Roman North Africa. A Conversation with Bonnie Effros and Ralph Ghoche / Reid Hall, Paris. https://globalcenters.columbia.edu/events/incidental-archaeologists-french-officers-and-rediscovery-roman-north-africa-conversation

December 4,  2019 / "Cruce et Aratro” : les interventions urbaines de l'Église Catholique à Alger / Symposium. École nationale supérieure d’architecture de Normandie, l’Unité de Recherche ATE, Rouen.

November 25,  2019 / "Christianizing Algiers: Reshaping Urban Identity by “Cross and Plow” / Public Lecture. Columbia Global Center, Tunis.

November 21, 2019, 6:30 pm / "Christianizing Algiers: Reshaping Urban Identity by “Cross and Plow” / Public Lecture. Columbia University's Institute for Ideas & Imagination, Reid Hall, Paris.

September 23, 2019, 5:30 pm / "Erasing the Ketchaoua Mosque: Catholicism, Assimilation and Civic Identity in France and Algeria" / Public Lecture. University of Edinburgh, Department of Architecture.

"A Conquest from Below: Porphyry and the Monument to Thomas Bugeaud in French Algiers." Ethics and Politics of Material in Architecture, Kunsthistorisches Institut, Florence, July 2019.

"By Hammer and Chisel: Resource Extraction and the Statue Bugeaud in French Algiers." Colonial and Postcolonial Landscapes, Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon. January 2019.

"Architecture, Conversion and Civic Identity in France and Algeria." Session: Colonial Past in the Neo-Colonial Present, The Society of Architectural Historians, Annual Conference, St-Paul. April 2018.

"Missionary Churches and Island Utopias: Building for Conquest in Colonial Algeria (1830-1860)." College Art Association, 105th Annual Conference, New York. February 2017.

Urban Dislocations and the Architecture of Diasporas. Session co-chair with Ignacio Galán. Association of Art Historians, 2019 annual conference, Brighton, UK. April 2019.

Architectural Conversions and Imperial Imaginations. Session co-chair with Maria Gonzalez Pendas. 2019 College Art Association Annual Conference, New York. January 2019.

French North Africa and the Architecture of Counter-Insurgency. Session co-chair with Samia Henni. 2018 College Art Association Annual Conference, Los Angeles. February 2018.

Standing Stones and the Origins of Architectural Modernity. Session co-chair with Christina Contandriopoulos. Association of Art Historians, 42nd annual conference, Loughborough University, UK. April 2017.

Ornament and the Renewal of Architecture in the Nineteenth Century. Session co-chair with Martin Bressani. European Architectural History Network, 4th annual conference, Dublin. June 2016.

Romanticism and the Funereal Imagination: The Tomb of the Rear Admiral Dumont d’Urville. Fall 2016 Lecture Series, Department of History of Art & Architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara. November 2016.

Modern Nature: Ornament and the Renewal of Architecture in the 19th Century. Spring 2016 Lecture Series, School of Architecture and Design, New York Institute of Technology. March 2016.

Simon-Claude Constant-Dufeux and the Symbolic Interpretation of Architectural Origins. University of Toronto, Department of Art History. January 2016.

The Problem of Ornament: Organicism and its Afterlife. Architectural History and Theory Lecture Series 2014-2015, University of Edinburgh, Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. April 2015.


Erasing the Ketchaoua Mosque: Catholicism, Assimilation and Civic Identity in France and Algeria,” in Daniel Coslett, ed., Neocolonialism and Built Heritage: Echoes of Empire in Africa, Asia, and Europe, Architext Series, ed. Anthony D. King (Routledge, 2019).

“Un art nouveau complet'": On Simon-Claude Constant-Dufeux’s Project for a Chamber of Deputies,” in Marc Le Coeur and Jean-Philippe Garric eds., Henri Labrouste et son temps (Les Editions des Cendres, 2019).

“A Commons for Whom? Racism and the Environmental Movement,” co-authored with Unyimeabasi Udoh, in Maria S. Rivera Maulucci, Hilary Callahan, Stephanie Pfirman, eds., Transforming Sustainability Research and Teaching: Discourses on Justice, Inclusion, and Authenticity (Springer, 2020).

Ornament and Expressive Lines: Nature and Symbol in Victor Ruprich-Robert's Flore ornementale,” in A Companion to Nineteenth-Century Architecture, Harry Mallgrave, Martin Bressani and Christina Contandriopoulos, eds. (Malden, MA.: Blackwell Publishing, 2017).

“Dans l’atelier de Simon-Claude Constant-Dufeux,” in De l’Orient à la mathématique de l’ornement. Jules Bourgoin (1838-1908), ed. Maryse Bideault, Estelle Thibault et Mercedes Volait (Paris: Picard, 2015).

“The Science of the Beautiful: S.C. Constant-Dufeux and the Parabola as Constructive and Symbolic Form,” in Nuts and Bolts of Construction History: Culture, Technology and Society, ed. Robert Carvais, André Guillaume, Valerie Nègre, Joël Sakarovitch, vol. 1 (Paris: Picard, 2012), 193-199.

“Simon-Claude Constant-Dufeux and the Symbolic Interpretation of Architectural Origins,” Architectural Histories (Spring, 2018). Peer-reviewed.

“Second Nature,” in “Run for Cover," ed. Jennifer Sigler, special issue, Harvard Design Magazine 42 (Spring 2016).

“Building and Weaving,” Interweave: Urban Tectonics at Shanghai’s South Bund, ed. Gustavo Crembil, (Beijing: China Building Publishing, 2013).

“Zola’s Volatile Utopia,” in “Utopia c. 2016,” ed. Christina Contandriopoulos, special issue, Journal of Architectural Education 67, no. 1 (Spring 2013), 32-38. Peer-reviewed

“Nature by Design,” in "Not-Nature,” ed. Erik Ghenoiu, special issue, Tarp Architecture Manual (Spring 2012), 70-74.