Peter Eisenman: Architect, Theorist and Educator Marked by Deconstructivism

Peter Eisenman: Architect, Theorist and Educator Marked by Deconstructivism

Whether built, written or drawn, the work of American architect, theorist and educator Peter Eisenman (born 11th August 1932) is characterized by Deconstructivism, with an interest in signs, symbols and the processes of making meaning always at the foreground.

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe / Eisenman Architects. Image © Vladimir BelogolovskyThe City of Culture of Galicia / Eisenman Architects. Image Courtesy of Eisenman ArchitectsConstruction of the City of Culture of Galicia in Spain (taken 2006). Image Courtesy of Eisenman ArchitectsDesign diagram for the City of Culture of Galicia, Spain. Image Courtesy of Eisenman Architects+ 5

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe / Eisenman Architects. Image © Vladimir Belogolovsky
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe / Eisenman Architects. Image © Vladimir Belogolovsky

After receiving degrees in architecture from Cornell and Columbia universities and then a PhD from Cambridge University, Eisenman rose to fame in the late ‘60s, as part of the New York Five, a group that shared an interest in the purity of architectural form and besides Eisenman included Michael Graves, Richard Meier, John Hejduk and Charles Gwathmey. Likewise, he founded the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies (IAUS), an international think tank for architecture in New York that became the most important American center for architectural debate in the '70s.

Eisenman has been one of architecture's foremost theorists of recent decades. However, he has also at times been a controversial figure in the architectural world, professing disinterest in many of the more pragmatic concerns that other architects engage in.


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The City of Culture of Galicia / Eisenman Architects. Image Courtesy of Eisenman Architects
The City of Culture of Galicia / Eisenman Architects. Image Courtesy of Eisenman Architects

About his idea of architecture, Eisenman stated in 2016:

[It] is about stopping any communication and placing within architecture itself a device that causes you to react emotionally, physically, and intellectually. Without representation. My architecture means nothing. But the experience is something else.

In 2004 Eisenman was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2004 Venice Architecture Biennale and was honored with the Wolf Foundation Prize in the Arts in 2010. In 2014, he received the Piranesi Prix de Rome for career achievement, awarded by the Accademia Adrianea di Architettura e Archeologia in Rome, Italy.

Given his significant influence in the profession, Eisenman has built surprisingly little; however, the buildings he has completed are often incredibly dense in their ideological underpinning, frozen manifestos for his theory. As founder and principal of Eisenman Architects, his most critical works are House VI, the Wexner Center for the Arts, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the City of Culture of Galicia, Spain.

Construction of the City of Culture of Galicia in Spain (taken 2006). Image Courtesy of Eisenman Architects
Construction of the City of Culture of Galicia in Spain (taken 2006). Image Courtesy of Eisenman Architects
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Cite: ArchDaily. "Peter Eisenman: Architect, Theorist and Educator Marked by Deconstructivism" 11 Aug 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/535705/spotlight-peter-eisenman> ISSN 0719-8884
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Peter Eisenman. Image © Chris Wiley

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