Unpublished writings of Colin Rowe—letters, essays, lectures, and a postcard—clarify his thinking on key concepts while revealing his wit and erudition.
Colin Rowe (1920–1999) was one of the great architectural historians of the twentieth century, publishing the influential works The Mathematics of the Ideal Villa and Other Essays (1976) and Collage City (1978). While his written work was rigorous and authoritative, his lectures and letters were more casual, “carefully careless,” both witty and erudite. I Almost Forgot gathers twenty-three such writings—letters, essays, lectures, a postcard, and a eulogy. Both edifying and entertaining, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, occasionally scathing, they fill in personal details and clarify key concepts in Rowe's work.
In these writings, Rowe tells of the “Corbu superstructure upon a beaux-arts base” that refugee Polish architects and their students introduced to his alma mater, the University of Liverpool, in the early 1940s. He characterizes his controversial essay “The Mathematics of the Ideal Villa” as a “pretty clever but, otherwise, perfectly innocent little article,” and reports that Le Corbusier's Villa Schwob “played an entirely disproportionate role in my mental life.” Rowe's voice and opinions are strong in his discussions of architecture, current events, and his own life and work. Each piece begins with a brief introduction by the volume editor. The writings are illustrated by images of Rowe's drawings, letters, and postcards; photographs and drawings of Rowe's only built work; and illustrations chosen by Rowe for lectures.
Daniel Naegele is an architect and Associate Professor Emeritus at Iowa State University. His essays and articles have appeared in AA Files, Harvard Design Magazine, L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui, and other publications. He is the editor of The Letters of Colin Rowe and the author of Naegele's Guide to the Only Good Architecture in Iowa and Who Shot Le Corbusier?
Zhengyang Hua holds a Ph.D. in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania.