Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Peter Eisenmann gave a lecture a few days ago at RIAS where he outlined what bdonline is calling his "six point plan." As far as I can tell those six points are:

1.Architecture in a media culture.
2.Students have become passive.
3.Computers make design standards poorer.
4.Today's buildings lack meaning or confidence.
5.We are in a period of late style.
6.To be an architect is a social act.

Well, if there really is a global decline in the quality of architectural discussion and practice, Pete certainly isn't helping. Not only does his firm produce some of the most vapid digital work this side of Himmelb(l)au, but the above-linked article does little more than vagely outline some percieved problem and then gripe about how it used to be better.

I think the truest point might be "we are in a period of late style." There is a sea change on the horizon, one where digital practice transitions from being a method of complex formal production to one of complex and interrelated real assemblage: from image to instruction, if you will. Despite his proclamations of doom, Eisenmann is and always has sat on the near side of that divide-- look at all of the work he has produced since the advent of CAD and you'll see occasionally elegant formal complexity with a lot of back-bending to get it to link conceptually back to his earlier decon work. I don't think that there are too many people out there that look to his firm as a source for the future of built architecture-- if anything, he gets looped in by the layperson with Gehry as a distant, obtuse producer of expensive but leaky university roofs.

There are a few details to keep in his tirade against pesky children and their computers-- there is still a very important role in the hand-drawn line, architects must be socially aware, things they are a-changin'-- but most of that information is weakened by a total lack of supporting evidence, and moreover is difficult to find, awash in a sea of petty gripes and wild generalizations.

As someone on archinect said in response: "Does he think rock music is just a bunch of noise, too? These kids today, I tell ya."

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