Today’s Lunchtime Reading: Christopher Alexander v. Peter Eisenman

Blowhard, Esq. writes:

alexandereisenman

Via Paleo Retiree, a legendary debate between Christopher Alexander (pictured above, left) and Peter Eisenman (right) from 1982 at the Harvard Graduate School of Design on traditional v. postmodern architecture.

CHRISTOPHER ALEXANDER: The thing that strikes me about your friend’s building — if I understood you correctly — is that somehow in some intentional way it is not harmonious. That is, Moneo intentionally wants to produce an effect of disharmony. Maybe even of incongruity.

PETER EISENMAN: That is correct.

CHRISTOPHER ALEXANDER: I find that incomprehensible. I find it very irresponsible. I find it nutty. I feel sorry for the man. I also feel incredibly angry because he is fucking up the world.

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About Blowhard, Esq.

Amateur, dilettante, wannabe.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Art, Philosophy and Religion and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Today’s Lunchtime Reading: Christopher Alexander v. Peter Eisenman

  1. I have never heard it so lucidly and transparently admitted by a post-modernist/post-structuralist architect that they KNOW their buildings are awful. That building awful structures is the whole point of their endeavor.

    They really might be evil rather than just wrong, or mistaken.

    Liked by 1 person

    • >>That building awful structures is the whole point of their endeavor.

      It’s not enough that anxiety and nervousness are readily apparent in contemporary painting, music, literature, and, oh, LIFE ITSELF — it’s the water that we swim in — but it must be expressed in our buildings too? Why? Isn’t there something valuable in providing a respite from the madness? But I guess any sort of comfort is “kitschy” in their eyes.

      Like

  2. peterike2 says:

    Wish I had the time to read more of that debate, but I don’t. Still, it only takes a few moments to realize what a putz Eisenmann is. Right off the bat he says, “I do not know who the Christian is and who the lion,” and then later smarmily says, “I certainly became the lion and you the Christian, and I have always wanted to be a Christian.” This, from what I’m guessing is the Jewish intellectual. He’s too cute by half.

    And then he utters a sheer imbecility. “Chartres, for me, is one of the least interesting cathedrals… Once you’ve seen one Gothic cathedral, you have seen them all.”

    I suppose this is some kind of joke, though it could be switched to “once you’ve seen one dystopian modernist building, you’ve seen them all.” But the best part is that within the elipsis above he says this:

    “In fact, I have gone to Chartres a number of times to eat in the restaurant across the street — had a 1934 red Mersault wine, which was exquisite — I never went into the cathedral.”

    Oh how dainty the way he name drops the 1934 wine he had! Oh, I have such exquisite taste, and such unlimited wealth that I can indulge that taste with a rare bottle of wine.

    What a jerk.

    Liked by 1 person

    • >>I suppose this is some kind of joke, though it could be switched to “once you’ve seen one dystopian modernist building, you’ve seen them all.”

      Funny how that doesn’t seem to have occurred to him.

      Like

  3. agnostic says:

    Some come up with ideas about buildings, others come up with buildings about ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • peterike2 says:

      That sums up the entire problem of modern art. Just swap out “buildings” with paintings, sculptures, music, etc. and it fits every case.

      Like

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