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Criticism and Theory

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Architecture in the Experience Economy

In the twenty-first century, we must learn to look at cities not as skylines but as brandscapes, and at buildings not as objects but as advertisements and destinations. In the experience economy, experience itself has become the product: we're no longer consuming objects but sensations, even lifestyles. In the new environment of brandscapes, buildings are not about where we work and live but who we imagine ourselves to be. In Brandscapes, Anna Klingmann looks critically at the controversial practice of branding by examining its benefits, and considering the damage it may do.

Confronted with the intricate construction details of Italian architect Carlo Scarpa's Querini Stampalia Gallery—steel joined at odd intervals, concrete spilled out of concatenated forms, stone cut in labyrinthine patterns—Michael Cadwell abandoned his attempts to categorize them theoretically and resolved instead to appreciate their idiosyncrasies and evoke their all-embracing affects. What he had dismissed as a collection of fetishes he came to understand as a coherently constructed world that was nonetheless persistently strange.

Architecture and the Visual Arts

In this thoughtful collection of essays on the relationship of architecture and the arts, Giuliana Bruno addresses the crucial role that architecture plays in the production of art and the making of public intimacy. As art melts into spatial construction and architecture mobilizes artistic vision, Bruno argues, a new moving spacea screen of vital cultural memoryhas come to shape our visual culture.

The Technology of the Spectacle, Paris, 1981–1998

From the Gothic to the contemporary, glass has transformed the structural, formal, and philosophical principles of architecture. In The Glass State, Annette Fierro views the many meanings of transparency in architecture. Specifically, she analyzes the transparent monumental buildings that were built in Paris between 1981 and 1998 as part of Francois Mitterrand's program of Grands Projets.

Writings from Utopie (1967–1978)

The Utopie group was born in 1966 at Henri Lefebvre's house in the Pyrenees. The eponymous journal edited by Hubert Tonka brought together sociologists Jean Baudrillard, René Lourau, and Catherine Cot, architects Jean Aubert, Jean-Paul Jungmann, Antoine Stinco, and landscape architect Isabelle Auricoste. Over the next decade, both in theory and in practice, the group articulated a radical ultra-leftist critique of architecture, urbanism, and everyday life.

We human beings are governed by the urge to conform and blend in with our surroundings. We follow fashion. We become part of cultures of conformity—religious communities, military groups, sports teams; we take on corporate identities. Likewise, we seem to have the capacity to grow into our built environment, to familiarize ourselves with it, and eventually to find ourselves at home there. We have a chameleonlike urge to adapt, and, given the increasing mobility of contemporary life, we are constantly having to do so.

The Yale Architectural Journal

The profession of architecture is increasingly characterized by divergent architectural ideas and divergent political, social, technological, and economic agendas. Much of current practice focuses on the process of architecture (its how) rather than its meaning, effect, or reason for being (its why). This issue of Perspecta—the oldest and most distinguished student-edited architectural journal—explores the practice of architecture after the breakdown of consensus.

Architectural Longing after Ethics and Aesthetics

The forced polarity between form and function in considerations of architecture--opposing art to social interests, ethics to poetic expression--obscures the deep connections between ethical and poetical values in architectural tradition. Architecture has been, and must continue to be, writes Alberto Pérez-Gómez, built upon love. Modernity has rightly rejected past architectural excesses, but, Pérez-Gómez argues, the materialistic and technological alternatives it proposes do not answer satisfactorily the complex desire that defines humanity.

The Yale Architectural Journal

Does fame empower architecture or undermine it? Does the star power or cult status of an architect enhance the art or dilute it? This issue of Perspecta—the oldest and most distinguished student-edited, university-based American architecture journal—examines the inner workings of fame as it relates to architecture though media and culture. It looks at how the commodification of architecture affects the design process—whether fame emphasizes all the wrong aspects of architecture or provides the only way an architect can produce truly ambitious projects.

Standards and the Hidden Language of Place Making

Standards and codes dictate virtually all aspects of urban development. The same standards for subdividing land, grading, laying streets and utilities, and configuring rights-of-way and street widths to accommodate cars (rather than pedestrians) have been adopted in many areas of the world regardless of variations in local environments. In The Code of the City, Eran Ben-Joseph examines the relationship between standards and place making.

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