Eisenman’s Evolution: Architecture, Syntax, and New Subjectivity

Iman Ansari with in his office, New York 2013. Image Courtesy of an-onymous.com

In this article, which originally appeared on Architectural ReviewIman Ansari interviews Peter Eisenman about his personal views on architecture throughout the course of his career. 

Iman Ansari: More than any other contemporary architect, you have sought a space for architecture outside the traditional and conventional realm. You have continually argued that modern architecture was never fully modern and it failed to produce a cognitive reflection about the nature of architecture in a fundamental way.  From your early houses, we see a search for a system of architectural meaning and an attempt to establish a linguistic model for architecture: The idea that buildings are not simply physical objects, but artifacts with meaning, or signs dispersed across some larger social text. But these houses were also part of a larger project that was about the nature of drawing and representation in architecture. You described them as “cardboard architecture” which neglects the architectural material, scale, function, site, and all semantics associations in favor of architecture as “syntax”: conception of form as an index, a signal or a notation. So to me, it seems like between the object and the idea of the object, your approach favors the latter. The physical house is merely a medium through which the conception of the virtual or conceptual house becomes possible. In that sense, the real building exists only in your drawings.

Peter Eisenman: The “real architecture” only exists in the drawings. The “real building” exists outside the drawings. The difference here is that “architecture” and “building” are not the same.

‘Palladio at Work’ Exhibition at The Canadian Centre for Architecture



Courtesy of London, RIBA British Architectural Library. VIII/11v

The Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) is hosting an exhibition of Palladio’s drawings, giving new insight into the use of drawings as a tool to record, develop and disseminate his ideas. Curated by Guido Beltramini, in collaboration with Charles Hind, Palladio at Work will be on view in the museum’s Octogonal Gallery from March 3 to May 22, 2011.

More on the exihibition and on after the break.