Architectural publishers are a hyperactive bunchha reflection of the audience they serve, no question. with mountains of books signaling the arrival of a new season, we decided it was time to sort out the best.
|The Pan Am Building and the Shattering of the Modernist Dream |
Meredith L. Clausen,
MIT Press, $45.00 (hard)
The turmoil surrounding the redevelopment of the World Trade Center might seem unprecedented but Meredith Clausen reminds us that we've been here before. The history of the Pan Am Building at Park Avenue and 45th Street is as contentious as that of any building in Manhattan, involving celebrity architects, power-brokering, even death at the blade of a helicopter. This biography of a landmark proves to be a cautionary tale.
Various authors, BBkAmerica,
$1.49 each (paper)
Each book in this brand new collection of pocket-sized pamphlets is meant to be read in the time it takes to drink your morning coffee. At $1.49 each, they also cost less than the average lattt. But the content of the miniature volumes is weightier than might be expected: Each BBK contains an essay, short story, picture portfolio, or biography, some old and some new. Texts range from Jonathan Swift's 18th-century satire A Modest Proposal to Los Angeles Times critic Christopher Knight's essay on the planningof the Washington mall, The Mall in Peril.
|The Modern Procession |
Public Art Fund, dist. by D.A.P., $24.95 (hard, including DVD)
The Museum of Modern Art's return to Manhattan left its temporary quarters in Queens nearly forgotten. This book recalls the journey organized in June 2002 by Belgian-born, Mexico-based artist Francis Alls designed to commemorate the original move to the outer borough. The procession, in which 200 participants shouldering replicas of some of MoMA's best known workssand artist Kiki Smithhmarched from West 53rd Street to Long Island City, is documented in images, text, and film.
|Nothing Less Than Literal |
MIT Press, $40.00 (hard)
Mark Linder looks at the cross-pollination of ideas between minimalist artists and architects in the late 1960s. Examining writing by figures like Colin Rowe and Robert Smithson as well as the work of more recent architects like John Hejduk and Frank Gehry, Linder claims that, contrary to conventional wisdom, architecture preceded art in the development of the formal language of minimalism.
|Brooklyn: New Style |
Booth-Clibborn Editions, $45.00(paper)
Brooklynites can be noisy in their preference for their borough, but this compendium of work by resident artists and designers of every stripe shows that there is plenty to boast about. The Architect's Newspaper's own art director Martin Perrin imposes order on the diverse and unruly nature of the work by organizing it by zip code, and intersperses descriptions of each artist and his or her work with photographs of the rooftops, streetscapes, train tracks, and waterfront that inspire it.
|Record Pictures: Photographs From the |
Archives of the Institution of Civil Engineers
Steidl/MACK, $50.00 (hard)
>Record picturess was the name given to the photographic accounts of civil engineering projects in the 19th century, and artist Michael Collins has gathered a series of these extraordinary images into a book of the same name. While the photographs of railways, bridges, and power stations have specific documentary concerns, one can see them as precursors to the precise typological studies of Bernd and Hilla Becher and the many students who emerged from their influential Dusseldorf school.
|Cruelty & Utopia: Cities and Landscapes of Latin America |
Eduardo Baez, Jean-Francois Lejeune
Princeton Architectural Press, $45.00 (paper)
This catalogue for an exhibition of the same name, held in 2003 at the International Center for Urbansim, Architecture, and Landscape in Brussels and organized by Jean-Francois Lejeune, tries to get at the contradictions in Latin American cities like Quito, Lima, and Mexico City by looking to their roots. From the overlay of the 1573 Law of the Indies on ancient Aztec cities to Le Corbusier's pleasure in Brazil's vibrant public sphere, the essays included in this book immerse readers in the complex development of urbanism in Latin America.
|Ornaments of the Metropolis: |
Siegfried Kracauer and Modern Urban Culture
MIT Press, $39.95 (hard)
Sigfried Kracauer's writings on cities have never been as well known as his film work, but reward a look. In this slim but dense book, Henrik Freeh analyzes the early essays and autobiographical novel of the architect turned social theorist and critic. He shows that, for Kracauer, ornament was not merely a pleasantly decorative addition to buildings and streets but central to the way each of us understands cities. Freeh's own photographs illustrate his text.
|Pioneers of Modern Design, From William |
Morris to Walter Gropius
Nikolaus Pevsner; revised and expanded by Richard Weston
Yale University Press, $40.00 (hard)
If you only know Nikolaus Pevsner's 1936 book from one of its later black-and-white paperback Penguin editions, this new larger format book will come as a revelation. Pevsner was an early champion of modernism and contended that it was the only true and appropriate style for contemporary architecture. While theorists like Manfredo Tafuri and others have shown his argument to be oversimplified and limited, this new Yale edition supports Pevsner's stance with luscious color photography that makes it easy to understand why he believed a new world order was on the horizon.
Compiled by Deborah Grossberg, Anne Guiney, Philip Tidwell, and William Menking
The New International Style
Modern House Three
Phaidon, $69.95 (hard)
The New Modern House
Princeton Architectural Press, $35.00 (paper)
Housey Housey: A Pattern Book
of Ideal Homes
Claire Melhuish and Pierre d'Avoine Architects
Black Dog Press, $39.95 (hard)
Call it the triumph of hope over experience. Architectural publishers continue to put out glossy modern house books promoting better, smarter ways of living, even as McMansion subdivisions metastasize the world's remaining open spaces. Yes, it's true: American-style tract houses are being as enthusiastically consumed by the rest of the world as Kentucky Fried Chicken and Britney Spears.
If there is good news, it's that the modern housee has also gone global. Modern House Three by New York writer Raul A. Barreneche and The New Modern House by London-based Will Jones show us residential architecture that's stylishly international in its concerns and referencesssomething Philip Johnson could never have imagined. Tellingly, two of the most intriguing examples featured in Modern House Three are in China. In the misty foothills of Qinlin, the Shanghai architect Ma Qing Yun has built a stately modernist box of concrete masonry and wood that reverently recalls Louis Kahn. Yet details like the local river stones set into the exterior walls and the interior of woven bamboo sheeting make this an architecture entirely of its place.
|Bloembollenhof, a housing subdivision |
in Vijfhuisen, Netherlands, designed by S333, brings together clean modern forms, simple materials (like wood panels and corrugated steel), and innovative planning.
|Courtesy princeton architectural press|
Meanwhile, in the countryside outside of Beijing and in sight of the Great Wall, Hong Kong architect Gary Chang has designed a house to serve the extraordinary vista. The striking timber-covered rectangular box, banded by large windows, is set on a tall concrete base. Inside, the main floor is a vast loftlike space with folding partition walls that can be configured in numerous ways. A hidden ladder pulls down from the ceiling for entry to the rooftop terrace, and pneumatically hinged trap doors in the floor open for access to sleeping quarters (accommodating up to 14 people), as well as a kitchen, bathrooms, storage, and a meditation chamber. Chang has radicalized the weekend house.
With only a few exceptions, the 33 dream houses profiled in Barreneche's insightful, handsomely designed coffee-table tome are the high-style showplaces of the design-conscious rich. By contrast, Will Jones' modest soft-cover book presents a more idiosyncratic collection, ranging from single-family residences to unbuilt concepts, prefab secondary homes to multifamily housing. Among the 40 projects featured are quirky examples like British architect Laurie Chetwood's Butterfly House in Surrey. Fashioned from cables, wires, fiber optics and sculptural metalwork, it depicts a caterpillar's metamorphosis. There's also Bloembollenhof, a housing estate in the Netherlands, designed by the Dutch firm S333 as an alternative to suburban sprawl. The firm devised four simple low-rise building types with gables, dormers, and skylights that can be variously arranged to create 52 different homes, from single dwellings to townhouse blocks. Constructed out of wood and corrugated steel, the buildings resemble farm structures. By massing them closely together, the architects have helped preserve the rural character of the surrounding landscape.
|In Gary Chang's 2002 Suitcase House |
in Badaling, near the Great Wall in China,
pneumatic hinges prop open trap doors that open to sleeping quarters below the floors.
Another perspective on the modern house is offered in Housey Housey by the Bombay-born British architect Pierre d'Avoine and his wife, architecture writer and ethnologist Clare Melhuish. Subtitled A Pattern Book of Ideal Homes, it is an assemblage of 23 housing plans, drawn from D'Avoine's 20 years of practice and research in residential design in Britain and abroad. While appealing and contemporary, these are not showy, mega-dollar projects. They are instead highly original responses to real-world building conditions, which should make them particularly useful to most architects. Take the prefab Piper Penthouses that were lifted onto the rooftop of a converted London apartment building by crane. Or the large two-story Invisible House neatly inserted into the former back garden of a suburban London house. So as not to disturb the views of neighbors, one of its floors was dug into the ground. NIMBYism, it seems, exists everywhere.
These three books demonstrate just how universal a language modern design has become. Let's hope more architects the world over can teach their clients, especially developers, to speak it.
Marisa Bartolucci lives in New York and writes about architecture, art, and culture.
Tschumi on Moneo
Theoretical Anxiety and Design Strategies in
the Work of Eight Contemporary Architects
ACTAR/MIT Press, $39.95 (paper)
Rafael Moneo is a major figure in world architecture, at once a respected designer and an important influence in Spanish building culture. He is also an excellent teacher. His new book, Theoretical Anxieties and Architectural Strategies in the Work of Eight Contemporary Architects, is largely texts expanded from lectures given in the early- to mid-1990s at Harvard's GSD and Madrid's Circulo de Bellas Artes, and it keeps the livee feel of a master performance. His subject is an influential group of architects, all except one Pritzker Prize winners like himself. The result is an exacting but easy read that unfolds like a novel by Italo Calvino. In Calvino's Invisible Cities, the explorer describes dozens of cities but at the end confesses that they evoke a single topossVenice, the city he loves above all others. Moneo describes architecture similarly. This is his own perspective, but he elaborates architecture's nooks and crannies. But what view of architecture are we talking about here?
Could Moneo's Venicee be regional? Reading Theoretical Anxieties, I was reminded of an event in Barcelona nearly 20 years ago, where I was invited to introduce my first built project to an audience of architects. I talked about architecture and culture, film and literary criticism, establishing parallels and suggesting cross-fertilization among disciplines. At the end came outrage: No crossovers, please: Architecture is architecture, literature is literature, film is film!! To this day, the certainty of the audience puzzles me. Is architecture an absolute value that can be isolated from everything around it? To find out more, I read further in Moneo's book.
Moneo discusses each architect in turn, beginning with an introduction that explains the architect's intentions and concerns and then proceeding to a group of projects he considers exemplary of the designer's oeuvre. This structure works well, and the grainy black-and-white illustrations do not detract from the rhythm of the reading. He sets the tone in the first chapter on James Stirling: This book is about the architect's tools and forms. Stirling's tools are the section (in his early constructivist and 19th century industrial periodd) and the plan (in his later career, influenced by Corb's architectural promenade and Colin Rowe). Moneo characterizes Stirling's forms as a balance of massessachieved in a quasi-canonical mannerr when discussing the Leicester Engineering Building (1959963), which celebrates the meeting of the diagonal and the perimeter.. From the outset, Moneo's analysis is formal and compositional, at once praising the architectural landscape of the Stuttgart Staatsgalerie (1977783) and joining Rowe in lamenting its lack of facades.
Stirling rarely discussed theoretical concerns, but Robert Venturi and Aldo Rossi often did. Moneo excels in his analysis of these two figures. He not only describes their intentions with precision and clarity but, having lived through the ideologies of the era, can also assume a critical distance. Moneo's presentation of Rossi's view of typology as the embodiment of timelessness and permanence, and of type as a basis for temporal continuity, is accurate and insightful.
Moneo is less at ease in presenting Peter Eisenman's often far-ranging theories. He is more comfortable with formal analysis of Eisenman's work; he understands and reads with sensitivity and connoisseurship the frontality, shifts, intersections of planes, diagonals, rotations, and other devices that make up the architect's repertory. He confesses to being less impressed by [Eisenman's] sources of inspirationnincongruent, unnecessary borrowings from other fieldssthan by the skillful manipulation of formal proceedings.. Are these reservations symptomatic of Moneo's wish for a self-contained discipline of architecture? Or do they reflect his abiding view of architectural history as a history of forms, not concepts? (Later, commenting on Herzog & de Meuron, he writes that perhaps the only external field useful to architects is art.)
One of the elegant things about this book is Moneo's way of deconstructing how architects work. Would Frank Gehry recognize himself in Moneo's observation of Gehry's strategy of breaking apart the program, reshaping it through an elemental impulse, and searching for the appearance of immediacy? The description tells the reader as much about architectural strategy as about Gehry. Moneo convincingly differentiates Eisenman's and Gehry's attitudes toward representation, noting that if the first fetishizes traditions of graphic representation, the second fetishizes the more intuitive production of models. (Moneo is scathing about Gehry here: In the final analysis, to make architecture is to know how to make a model..) Although Moneo rarely discusses construction, he does mention Gehry's understanding of the American construction industry as well as the architect's avoidance of simulation, which Moneo associates with Eisenman and Venturi. But the formal takes precedence over the material in Moneo's comparison of Eisenman's Columbus Convention Center (1989993) to Gehry's Santa Monica Place Shopping Center (1980). Moneo never talks about the role of Los Angeles' climate on Gehry's early collaged materials, as opposed to the Swiss climate and its energy conservation laws on the continuous stucco surfaces he admires in Gehry's Vitra building, which he identifies as a new direction in the master's oeuvre.
Switzerland would have no architecture without insistence on materiality. Moneo correctly locates this interest in the work of Herzog & de Meuron, in which he observes, materials are what makes forms emerge.. But he again shows his desire to isolate architecture from construction. Because their work does not explicitly manipulate forms, he finds no personal gesturee in it. Here Moneo is limited by the fact that he discusses only works through the early 1990s. He perceptively characterizes their early work as a search for origins marked by fascination with the archaic, noting how they explore the formal potential of materialss in their Napa Valley winery or Swiss countryside projects. However, the book's scope precludes examining more recent, culturally informed projects in which surfaces and different components of architectural form provide receptacles for other, external influences. (Certainly Herzog & de Meuron's Tokyo Prada store of 2002 would have altered Moneo's view on their exploration of the archaic.)
This time restriction also limits his reading of Rem Koolhaas, whom he presents as a rigid anti-contextualist, for whom place doesn't matter.. This conclusion ignores the sophisticated dialogues that Koolhaas' recent buildings in Seattle, Berlin, Porto, and Chicago establish with the cultures in which they are located. Moneo is better at analyzing Koolhaas' individual projects than his overall project. For example, describing Koolhaas' stylistic mixings as cocktail architecturee is reductive, but elucidating Rem's flair for iconographic representations of programs, as in the Zeebrugge Ferry Terminal in Belgium (1989), makes for highly perceptive commentary. Given the writer's astute talent at establishing comparisons and parallels among different architects, I would have been interested in seeing a link developed between Rossi's view of type as a universal constant and Koolhaas' obsessive efforts to invent new typologies, which are never mentioned by Moneo.
Moneo's attention to architecture as architecturee finds its culmination in lvaro Siza's work. Perhaps because Siza's practice echoes Moneo's own cultural origins, it resonates throughout the book as a whole. Siza, Moneo writes, seems to want to tell us that he simply wants his architecture to reek' of architecture. And it is this aroma of architecture''or, if you wish, of what we understand as architectureethat we breathe in his works.. What in architecture reekss of architecture? Am I not religious enough to grasp it, or am I missinggor missing out onnsome attainable absolute value? Moneo revels in the formal operations of Siza's art, describing the Banco Pinto & Sotto Mayor (1971174) as an attempt to show architecture at its purest, devoid of phenomena and event.. Opposed to purely linguistic considerations,, it is a building that speaks of architecture and tries to offer the architectural experience in terms offits very essence: space in all purity, space without the limitations that use confines it to in buildings.. This is architecture in its most visual incarnation, an architecture of forms rather than ideas.
The exclusive view expressed in Theoretical Anxieties and Architectural Strategies begs a rhetorical question: In writing about literature and writers today, could one do so without examining the role of film, television, media, social politics, or theories of public and private space? Moneo's fundamental thesis about the arbitrary form at the very origin of our workk restricts architecture's terrain, leaving out issues of context and content. Yet within these preconceptions, few writers have addressed the territory with equal incisiveness or authoritative command. Hence the second question raised by this volume: How can an architect write well about his colleagues? Here Moneo's sharp insights and thorough research make for remarkable reading. But if there is a moment when Moneo's discerning commentary becomes outstanding, it is when he makes cross-comparisons among architects, establishing similarities, relations, and differences. It is at this point that Moneo is most potent and, to my mind, really talks about architectureewhich exists at the intersection of vastly different practicessby using these well-informed differences and adding information drawn from first-hand knowledge of the architects, their work, and his own. At this point Moneo moves beyond the common denominator of form to touch on the rich complexity of what architecture is. In the sense that architecture is between the lines, you have to read between the lines of this book. Bernard Tschumi is an architect in New York and Paris.
Guide to New York Guides
The Landmarks of New York: An Illustrated
Record of the City's Historic Buildings
Monacelli Press, $65.00 (hard)
City Secrets: New York City
Robert Kahn, editor
The Little Bookroom, $24.95 (hard)
Garden Guide: New York City
Nancy Berner and Susan Lowry
The Little Bookroom, $19.95 (paper)
Touring Gothamms Archaeological Past:
8 Self Guided walking Tours through New York City
Diana di Zerega Wall and Anne-Marie Cantwell
Yale University Press, $18.00 (paper)
City Art: New York's Percent for Art Program
Essay by Eleanor Heartney, introduction by Adam Gopnik
Merrell Publishers, $49.95 (paper)
The AIA Guide to New York by Elliot Wallinsky and Norval White was first published in 1967, but it remains the architecture guidebook to New York City against which all others must be measured. It is still the most comprehensive source on the city's architecture, primarily because it is one of the few to thoroughly survey all five boroughs, and includes more than 130 maps and 3,000 building images. Originally long and lean, it has gotten chunkier with each new edition. Its one drawback is that it is too bulky to be carried easily on walks. Also, it has not been revised since 2000 which means, for a city like New York, it's sure to have significant omissions.
A quick glance at the New York section of Urban Center Books makes it clear that many authors have tried to round out the picture.
In the armchair traveler category, the most satisfying new book is The Landmarks of New York by Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, a leading landmarks advocate and former member of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. The book is billed as the definitive history and guide to New York's most treasured structures,, although Robert A. M. Stern's three volumes on New York, published by Rizzoli, might also lay claim to this title. Landmarks of New York is a history of preservation in the city, and begins in 1831, when New Yorkers began to first fret that important buildings were being lost, and continues through the destruction of the World Trade Center. Along with every official landmarked building in the city, Diamonstein-Spielvogel includes many lesser-known but interesting examples, like the four Hunterfly Road Houses on Bergen Street in Brooklyn that were the center of an early black community in the 1830s.
There is also a growing number of idiosyncratic guides for locals who might think they know the city inside out. The pocket-sized City Secrets: New York compiles the favorite spots of writers, artists, filmmakers, architects, and others, presented with first-person reminiscences as well as directions and hours of public operation. There are many gems: Between the Enrico Caruso Museum in Brooklyn and the Capitol Fishing Tackle Company near the Chelsea Hotel, there is SOM's 1967 Marine Midland Bank in Lower Manhattan, accompanied by remarks from Richard Meier, who claims that with the exception of Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim, the best works of architecture built in New York during the last half of the 20th century were the black buildings.. (The other two he cites are the Seagram Building and the CBS Building.)
Part of the same pocket-sized series is Nancy Berner and Susan Lowry's comprehensive Garden Guide: New York City. It features many little-known publicly accessible green spaces, such as the Lotus garden on the roof of a garage on West 91st Street, and community gardens like the Taqwa Community Farm and the Garden of Happiness, both in the Bronx.
The slim paperback Touring Gotham's Archaeological Past: 8 Self-Guided Walking Tours Through New York City is a guide to the city not only of today but of yesterday. It discusses Native American life here, the early development of the grid, and long-gone neighborhoods. It includes drawings of a 16th-century Dutch West India wind-powered sawmill and maps of the Lower Manhattan waterfront when it bumped up against Hanover Square. In a city that seems to change by the moment and quickly obscures its past, it is a pleasure to know what's under our feet as well as on the street.
Another often-overlooked feature of New York is its public art. City Art: New York's Percent for Art Program features the nearly 200 works of public art completed since the program's 1983 initiation. While many of these pieces are easily accessible, others are in obscure spots. With an introduction by New Yorker critic Adam Gopnik and an essay by art critic Eleanor Heartney, the book documents the work of several of the city's best known public artists and their experiences working for the city.
|Kristen Jones and Andrew Ginzel's 1992 installation, Mnemonics, at Stuyvesant High School, featured in City Art.|
|Courtesy Merrell Publishers|
These books are but a sampling of the range of New York City guidebooks, each with a strong point of view. While they contain many familiar landmarks and spaces, they also offer just enough that is new (or little-known) to allow you to see the city with the wide-open eyes of a tourist. William Menking is an editor at AN.
It's no secret that architects and designers are fantastic fetishists. Sensuous forms, hard details, or soft textures can be enough to arouse even the most mild-mannered among us. The greatest turn-on of all, though, might just be the monographhthose beautiful tomes that we love to possess, exhibit, and gaze at. Here are several recent publications that we found not only eye-popping but stimulating too.
Ando: Complete Works
David Adjaye: Houses
Event Cities 3: Concept vs. Context vs. Content
Joel Sanders: Writings and Projects
Peter Eisenman: Barefoot on
The Charged Void:
The New York area has a concentration of arguably the most powerful educators in the country. We've assembled eleven deanssfour new to their respective institutions, and two new to the post entirelyyto ask them about their schools and the state of architectural education.
Photography by Yoko Inoue
Certain architecture schools under certain deans have managed to capture the sense of their epoch while simultaneously moving the profession forward. One thinks of Walter Gropius at Harvard's GSD, Yale under Paul Rudolph, John Hejduk at Cooper Union, Alvin Boyarsky at the AA, Bernard Tschumi at Columbia, and Peter Cook at the Bartlett. One cannot imagine these places without the strong leadership of their deans. Gropius founded the GSD and helped bring modernism to the United States, while Rudolph encouraged debate among his faculty and never required a party line. Hejduk forged a new way of thinking about and representing architecture. Each set a course for architecture with which every subsequent generation has had to contend. As architecture regains cultural currency, its protagonists are being asked again to imagine how our surroundings might look, work, and grow. Architectural educators have immense potential to influence the shape of the world to come. Here's how they are rising to the challenge. Anne Guiney, Cathy Lang Ho, William Menking
City College of New York
School of Architecture, Urban Design, and Landscape Architecture
# of students: 360 undergrad., 24 grad.
Dean since: 1994
When I came to City College, the school had- n't had a dean in 10 yearssthere was clearly some institutional neglect. City College students got a strong technical education and had a sense of public serviceemany ended up doing public work, at the Government Services Administration or the New York City Housing Authority, for exampleebut not so strong in design. I have been working to reintroduce design by building up the senior faculty, hiring a junior faculty of practitioners making their mark, and starting an annual lecture series. We also have new graduate programs, like the Master in Urban Design. And we are moving into a new buildinggour first independent oneewhich is a tremendous show of institutional support for the program. There is still a great tradition of public service and interest in public architecture. We have the City College Architectural Center (CCAC), which allows students and faculty to work with community groups on design and planning. CCAC has done studies in the Bronx and Yonkers, in addition to more theoretical surveys. There are many ways to theorize about architecture and buildingssas objects, in historical contexts, et ceteraabut there are still too many eccentricities from when architecture started grave-robbing other disciplines for ideas. When the primary starting point is one of juxtaposition and not amelioration, you end up with something that is indifferent to site, weather, culture, and so on. So much theory is still shrouded in a premise of juxtaposition and surrounded by the aura of the architect-as-artist, without any concern for the ability to connect. We need a reformation of architecture as an ameliorative force.
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
# of students: Approx. 600 grad.
Dean since: Fall 2004 (interim dean since 2003)
I see the school as an international laboratory for developing experimental visions of what an architect might be. Not only do we help every student to be state of the artt to produce brilliant buildings, plans, and policiesswe are also continually redefining the state of the art. That's what the school has done so well, and that's what students from 55 different countries come here for. In the last 15 years, many celebrated experiments were developed here but now is the time to complete the test by moving our innovations into the world, engaging it technically, politically, and socially. This doesn't mean the school becomes less experimental. On the contrary. A whole new possibility of conversation opens up with clients, politicians, artists, the public, the profession, engineers, and the construction industry. The school will therefore spend a lot more time out in the streets and bring more of the outside in. We brought in over 200 speakers last spring alone. A more fluid form of organization is already emerging within the school, allowing it to keep changing shape as the demands facing the profession change. What I'm trying to do is encourage a fertile biodiversity of people and positions, a lively ecology that allows the whole school to operate as an intelligent organism, adjusting itself in order to think through each new issue. If you only gave students what you thought was the right set of skills and concepts, our discipline would be dead in a few years. To serve the profession, we need to give students what the profession doesn't yet want or understand. The real purpose of a school like ours is not to cultivate a certain type of architecture but a certain evolution in architectural intelligence.
The Cooper Union
Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture
Founded: Degree in Architecture, 1964;
School of Architecture, 1975
# of students: Approx. 150 undergrad.
Dean since: 2002.
If I'm attempting anything as dean, it is to encourage the community of teachers and students to come at problems from a critical point of view, approaching them as starting points for research. We have a common approach to all studios, always beginning a design problem with historical, formal, and technological analysis. So the students' work is not about imitation but rather about revealing the hidden complexities, paradoxes, and disjunctions within a problem. Cooper Union is, on every level, a design research institution. Everything we do is geared at understanding the limits of problems and pushing those limits, raising questions about how we live in the world today. Understanding globalism is not a question of sensitivity-training but rather of serious research into questions of cultural, social, economic, and ecological difference as they imply the need for inventive architectural solutions. Our challenge now is how to integrate these questions into a teaching framework, how to restructure the traditional disciplinary divisions so that they naturally embody a global reachhthe type of study that Spiro Kostof tried to develop for many years at U.C. Berkeley. There has been a tendency from the professionally oriented sector to question the validity of theory. But this is a result, I think, of the fact that the very idea of Theoryy has become isolated as a subject in and of itself, an example of academia's need to divide its subjects into courses. The best theoryy of architecture is no more or less than thinking deeply about architecture. Any design has a theoretical construction embedded in it, whether you like it or not. Cooper has always joined its intellectual investigations to a deep, tactile sense of urban responsibility. For us, the question is how to activate that sensibility so that it's socially and culturally effective. I'd rather produce a powerfully responsible citizen of the world, an architect who has knowledge and skills but is still inquiring how to best apply them, than someone who automatically knows what a building should look like..
College of Architecture, Art, and Planning
# of students: 320 undergrad., 60 grad.
Dean since: Fall 2004
Cornell's architecture school has had a long and fascinating history. I am especially intrigued by the tension, dating to the 1960s and 70s, between the objectivity of O. M. Ungers, who was dean here, and the historicity of Colin Rowe, who taught here for 30 years. This is the kind of positive, productive competition of ideas that makes Cornell interesting. The AA [where I was head] was an architecture center but here I find myself working with not only the three departments of the College but potentially almost any other part of the surrounding university. Since I believe that architecture must interact with the world I am excited about the collaborative possibilities with other departments. I can imagine our students working with the molecular biology department on tissue research or with the City and Regional Planning Department whose new chair, Kenneth Reardon, leads a program that is politically inclined and working in many underserved communities. I am interested in making our students global practitioners. We've had a strong Rome program for many years and I am investigating links with both India and South America. Presently, I am looking for space in New York City to open a Cornell outpost. I am not supportive of studios that teach the same projects year after year. I want projects that anticipate future political possibilities as well as the formal art of architecture, balancing traditional education with emerging applications of practice and design.
New York Institute of Technology
School of Architecture and Design
# of Students: 726 undergrad., 14 grad.
Dean since: 2001
This is a different school in that it operates in three different campuses and each with its own student culture. The Old Westbury campus is a commuter school with digital studios but most students work at home on their own computers. The Manhattan campus is the most technologically advanced and has a large proportion of foreign students who bring an international perspective to the school. Finally, the Central Islip campus has fewer commuting students since it has dormitories. Studios there still tend to emphasize free-hand drawing over computer rendering. The kind of education I had at Cornelllprescriptive and formulaiccno longer works in the global world. It's not what students need today and it's not what the marketplace demands from them. I don't believe you can teach architecture. You can only teach students how to see and be self-critical. Using the eye, the mind, and the hand is a precarious balance. We're trying to achieve this, in part, by introducing a curriculum that embraces a range of representation techniques, including free-hand drawing, watercolor, sketchbook drawing, perspective, and advanced visualization. I am also attempting to strengthen our history and theory courses and have hired Bryan Bryce Taylor to oversee this part of the curriculum. And to broaden our students' horizons, I have instituted a Berlin study program in addition to our Rome and Spain programs.
Parsons School of Design
Founded: School in 1896; Department of Architecture, Interior Design, and Lighting
(previously Environmental Design), 1984
# of students: 140 undergrad., 102 grad.
Dean since: Fall 2004
As someone who's spent his life as a critic seeking and establishing bridges between architecture and the rest of the world, I took this job in part because I think education is supposed to do the same thing. Architec-tural education is much more than professional training. It is also about examining the role of architect in culture. Parsons is emphatically not a vocational school. Nor is it the art department of a liberal arts school. It's an intellectually rigorous version of an art and design school. One of our distinctions is that we are one of the few architecture programs with an interior design program. Also, we are trying to take advantage of the New School as much as possible. For example, we are talking to the Actor's Studio and the Mannes College of Music about developing a Stage Design program together. There's a need for architectural education to go in several directions simultaneously that might appear contradictory but are not. There's a need for greater connection to other disciplines and to the real worlds of politics, economics, and culture. There's also a need internally for architectural education to focus more proactively on issues of pure professional practice, on the things you need to know in order to practice. What ties these two ideas together is that, different though they seem, both are ways of breaking away from a hermetic, self-theoretical idea of architecture.
School of Architecture
# of students: 500 undergrad., 100 grad.
Dean since: 1996
From the beginning, Pratt Institute has worked along the model of the European polytechnic school, trying for a horizontal integration in the education of designers, builders, engineers, artists, and inventors. As architecture schools everywhere grew towards a more professional focus, there was a narrower definition of what architecture is, but to a large extent, we have maintained that identity and goal. Pratt is a large school, and we draw on all its strengths. Critical thinking skills are paramounttthe ability to define the activity of architecture as research and not just the more narrow approach of problem-solving. As students gain more diverse ideas about architecture and its sources, the entrenched boundaries of professionalism start to give way. At Pratt, we are building on the legacy of the polytechnic, and looking at how things are made in the information age. When computer software showed up, the challenge on a basic level was What can we draw?? We're now in the second wave of in-formation architecture, with much more complex structural implications. We have to ask what comes after the elaborate renderings and models, and find the next steps. It goes back to the Bauhaus model of rethinking disciplinary boundaries. When Sybil Moholy-Nagy from the Bauhaus lectured here in the 1960s, she urged students to think and live experimentally.. One of the broader questions is how architecture can reinvent itself, and make itself continually relevant? It cannot be understood as just competent on a basic level; it must be relevant as well. The world around us continually reinvents architecture's mandates and these mandates must be constantly placed before students.
Princeton University School of Architecture
# of students: 50 undergrad., 70 grad.
Dean since: 2002
The School of Architecture at Princeton is a small programmwe only accept 8 percent of those who apply. The size is good for students who thrive in an intense, competitive atmosphere. Our graduate programs are well known for their active faculty and graduates. And the undergraduate program, though less visible, turns out really fantastic students. This is a product of the university's emphasis on rigorous teaching standards in its undergraduate programs. In the 1990s history and theory seemed to drive design schools and even practice. It is my intention to recuperate a design culture for the schoollone that builds on our history/theory expertise but rethinks the relation-ship to practice. I believe the old dichotomy between academia and practice needs to change. In fact, the world seems to be coming back to architecture with a new appreciation of its value to culture and the city. This dichotomy comes together around the city. I want Princeton not to remain above the fray but to enter it by utilizing our students' tremendous visual, verbal, and organizational skills and begin imagining possible urban futures. New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country so we are situated in an incredible laboratory of emerging 21st-century urbanism.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Department of Architecture
# of students: 260 undergrad., 65 grad.
Dean since: 1996
At Rensselaer, I created a program that's categorically different from many other architecture schools. At the graduate level I built a series of masters programs in a spectrum of fields, including a Ph.D. in architectural sciences. As part of the architecture school I inherited the Lighting Research Center, which was funded by NYSERDA when it was founded in 1991 and adopted by the lighting industry for establishing standards. The industry invests $800,000 a year in its research. I don't think a lot of architecture schools have a strong research center built into the degrees. When I arrived, the school almost self-consciously avoided big-name architects, perhaps out of distrust of the type of architecture that's personality-driven. I'm not necessarily against the prima donna card; my own mentoring came from Kahn and Eisenman. The real influence is the experience of a strong will. Look at Zaha Hadid. She is driven by sensuality. Her work is felt; it's not about theory. The infinite promise of the computer somehow makes the idea of critical theory a minor irritation. The tools of the architect have moved work beyond any simplistic issues of semantic order. These tools allow us to explore more broadly the nature of natural and manmade order. The main challenge is looking for faculty. In order to sustain the research, two-thirds of our recent hires have advanced research backgrounds. At the same time, I've brought in some talented designers, like William Massie, Andrew Saunders, and Anna Dyson. I loved the AAAthe graduate school, in fact, was created by me while I was head of the school [from 1990 to 1996]. But what I love about RPI is that I see the students graduating from all the programs with an immense confidence in what they know. The AA was the reverse. We didn't give them competence in what they knew as much as openness to immense mysteries.
Syracuse University School of Architecture
Founded: 1873 # of students: 383 undergrad., 80 grad.
Dean since: Fall 2004
Even the most successful schools need a shake up periodically because architecture is not static, and schools can't be. Syracuse hardly needs a shake-up, but one of the things I can bringgas an architect, artist, and with my experience in policy from the National Endowment for the Artssis an interest in and ability to bridge communities. The new chancellor has a mandate to develop a creative campus,, one in which we think about the university in relation to the city. It's not just about making adjacencies between deans and departments, but breaking down the wall to the city. In some cities, it might be less critical to make a connection, but here, we have the potential to bring people into the campus through art, architecture, site installations, and other thingssand get them thinking, Hey, there's some- thing going on there.. The city of Syracuse is small enough that we can help energize and impact it. The proof is not just in the city's acceptance, though; we have to develop certain things in the students: The sense that they have the techniques of their discipline in problem-solving, theoretical expansiveness, and the ability to communicate exceptional ideas to a non-specific audience. Most of the students feel an intellectual responsibility to practice in some way. Above all, I want to instill a creative engagement in the students. Their five years here is just the beginning, and a curiosity that leads in many directions will compel them for the rest of their lives. And by the wayyit doesn't snow here 365 days a year!
Robert A. M. Stern
Yale University School of Architecture
# of students: 192 grad.
Dean since 1998
The Yale School of Architecture has histori- cally been open to all ideas, and while not overtly ideological, it has emphasized theoretical rather than practical matters. The fundamental philosophical breadth of our approach is not only curricular and geographical but also artistic; we refuse to promote a single conception of what architecture is or might become. It is never about one thinggit is a constellation of possibilities. A university is about open questions, not definitive answers. The first obligation of an architecture school should be to its own discipline. But that does not mean that architecture can be studied in a vacuum. We reach outside our field in many ways. We ask critics, artists, environmentalists, sociologists, and others to share their ideas with us. To succeed in his or her art, an architect must be a thinker and a maker, empowered by knowledge and a certain sense of humility. At Yale, we believe that architecture is construction, context, and so much more: It is a culture, a commitment, and a lifelong path to discovery. We have a very active public lecture series and the best exhibition schedule of any American university. But the thing that makes the school truly special is our endowed chairs. We have five fully endowed visiting chairs, which bring the world's leading practitioners to the school to teach a studio for a semester. We have also just instituted an endowed chair for junior faculty that will bring some of the best young designers to New Haven.
The eloquence of the void at Ground Zero will never be surpassed. Walking past the site almost every day, I am always moved by its immense formal authority and grandeur, its presence. Its scale and proportion are not unfamiliar: Times Square, the Zocalo in Mexico City, Red Square, the great plaza of Isfahan, are in the same family of spaces, profound settings for public assembly and crucial city symbols. I imagine Ground Zero transformed into such a space of gathering, something between a plaza and a park, a permanent memorial to an event that was so terribly public.
To build such a place requires both an excellent design for the square itself and careful attention to its perimeter, to the solid edges that enclose it. The basic envelope is fundamentally sound and includes many superb and historic structures, including the Barclay-Vesey building, St. Paul's Chapel, and the beautiful Post Office. Many opportunities to further shape this envelope also exist, particularly to the south where virtually the entire edge might be reconstructed. There are also sites both east and west that--rebuilt--could dramatically reinforce the sense of place. These peripheral sites would be logical for cultural institutions, commercial space, and housing.
Although there were many who immediately called for the dedication of this entire place to public use and public commemoration, this option was quickly removed from consideration as "impractical." The Lower Manhattan Development (not memorial) Corporation decided early on that the only "vision" they would support was one that replaced all of the commercial space lost on September 11 on the site itself. The LMDC has been remarkably adroit in stifling any other suggestion and has been equally canny in their use of architecture to obscure the fundamental exclusion of the public from a meaningful role in decision-making. When the public responded with outrage to the series of diagrammatic solutions to the site design offered two summers ago, the LMDC feigned responsiveness by staging a "competition"--whose winner was selected by administrative fiat--in which a number of architects proposed designs for exactly the same program. None had the courage to suggest that massive amounts of office and shopping space might not be the only possibility. With their fawning connivance, the public was distracted from a discussion of fundamentals and invited instead to debate the finer points of architectural style, which version of 12 million square feet of commercial space it preferred. Now, even the winner of the competition enjoys the indignity of seeing his ideas winnowed away by the growing committee of high-style designers hired by Larry Silverstein, who uncritically seek to bolster their reputations and bank accounts on the site.
Why build skyscrapers here? The main argument is commercial--pulling Silverstein's and the Port Authority's chestnuts out of the fire--but this flies in the face of both a lack of demand (vacancies are high all over town) and of many alternative sites for such buildings. There is, of course, also an argument that the restoration of what was there is the appropriate riposte to terror. This has unfortunately yielded the stupid machismo yet another "world's tallest building"-- a title the Trade Center held only briefly, an equally likely result for any successor. To me, this is simply too preening a response, without gravity, without respect. Finally, it's argued that skyscrapers are the preeminent symbol of New York. Certainly they are the highest architectural achievement of our commercial life. However, I believe that Central Park is the greatest symbol-and the greatest repository-of our public culture.
The last act of the LMDC's roughshod arrogation of downtown's future has been the memorial competition--its finalists just announced--which attracted over 5,000 entries, a clear indication of the pent-up desire for participation. This competition, however, can never substitute for what should have happened, an open competition for ideas at the beginning of the process, throwing it wide open for invention and debate and allowing the memorial to function as the driver. The LMDC has instead waited until the very end and offered competitors a site that is luridly constrained. Submerged below grade, hemmed by the glass-covered slurry-wall and a gigantic waterfall, over-hung by cantilevered cultural institutions, surrounded by Daniel Libeskind's elaborate and banal iconographic program, and lying beneath the looming bulk of the world's tallest building, the memorial--whatever it turns out to be--will suffer the consequences of being an afterthought, an appendage to the big plans of the LMDC, the Port Authority, and Larry Silverstein.
But this need not be. Let the winner of the memorial competition-the only open competition held so far-build his or her winning entry in a great space of public assembly, not in the midst of a clutch of slick office towers. Let those who are so eager to build do so on the perimeter of the site, or in Midtown South, or in Queens or Brooklyn or the Bronx. Let us have a wonderful hub of transportation-the means of bringing people together-under and near Ground Zero. Let cultural institutions gather around the site, as they do around Central Park. But, stop the demeaning arrogance of business-as-usual and the construction of an architectural zoo on this hallowed ground.
Can we pay for this? We must. It is time for the federal government to step in: No less than Gettysburg or Pearl Harbor, this is the site of a national trauma and, whatever its ownership, a place that "belongs" to us all. To be sure, the price tag would be several billion dollars but we are about to spend $18.3 billion reconstructing Iraq, to make that country whole after the devastations of tyranny and war. Surely, we can afford to make Ground Zero a place of peaceable assembly for everyone. Indeed, if terror demands a civic reply, what better than a solemn memorial to those lost and a space for the most fundamental exercise of democracy in space, the freedom to gather in a place that is our own.