Peter Eisenman Assesses Architecture Today In Six Points

In his recent address to the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, Architect Peter Eisenman broke down the current state of the practice into six headlines. What makes his observations interesting is that they apply to the current state of design in general. His fifth point addresses where we are in the style continuum. Today […]

In his recent address to the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, Architect Peter Eisenman broke down the current state of the practice into six headlines. What makes his observations interesting is that they apply to the current state of design in general. His fifth point addresses where we are in the style continuum.

Today I say we are in a period of late style. A period in which there is no new paradigm. Computation and the visual may produce a shift from the notational but this in itself is not a new paradigm. It is merely a tool. The question remains: What happens when one reaches the end of a historical cycle? On Late Style by Edward Said describes such a moment in culture before a shift to a new paradigm. A moment not of fate or hopelessness but one that contains a possibility of looking at a great style for the possibility of the new and the trans-formative.

Eisenman also points out that in his view today’s buildings lack meaning and context to their surroundings. A point that we noticed architect Lebbeus Woods also speak to recently.

They may not necessarily look like anything or they may only resemble the processes that made them. In this case they do not relate outwardly but refer inwardly. These are icons that have little cultural meaning or reference. There is no reason to ask our more famous architects: “Why does it look like this?”

There is no answer to this question because “Why?” is the wrong question.

Why? Because the computer can produce it. One could ask these architects: “Why is this one better than that one?” Or “Which one of the crumpled paper buildings is better?” Or “Which one is the best and why?”

Read more about Eisenman’s RIAS Address at Building Design Online.

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