Alberto Pérez-Gómez

Alberto Pérez Gómez directs the History and Theory of Architecture Program at McGill University, where he is Saidye Rosner Bronfman Professor of the History of Architecture. He is the author of Architecture and the Crisis of Modern Science, Built upon Love: Architectural Longing after Ethics and Aesthetics (both published by the MIT Press), and other books.

  • Attunement

    Attunement

    Architectural Meaning after the Crisis of Modern Science

    Alberto Pérez-Gómez

    How architecture can move beyond the contemporary enthusiasms for the technically sustainable and the formally dazzling to enhance our human values and capacities.

    Architecture remains in crisis, its social relevance lost between the two poles of formal innovation and technical sustainability. In Attunement, Alberto Pérez-Gómez calls for an architecture that can enhance our human values and capacities, an architecture that is connected—attuned—to its location and its inhabitants. Architecture, Pérez-Gómez explains, operates as a communicative setting for societies; its beauty and its meaning lie in its connection to human health and self-understanding.

    Our physical places are of utmost importance for our well-being. Drawing on recent work in embodied cognition, Pérez-Gómez argues that the environment, including the built environment, matters not only as a material ecology but because it is nothing less than a constituent part of our consciousness. To be fully self-aware, we need an external environment replete with meanings and emotions.

    Pérez-Gómez views architecture through the lens of mood and atmosphere, linking these ideas to the key German concept of Stimmung—attunement—and its roots in Pythagorean harmony and Vitruvian temperance or proportion. He considers the primacy of place over space; the linguistic aspect of architecture—the voices of architecture and the voice of the architect; architecture as a multisensory (not pictorial) experience, with Piranesi, Ledoux, and Hejduk as examples of metaphorical modeling; and how Stimmung might be put to work today to realize the contemporary possibilities of attunement.

    • Paperback $24.95 £20.00
  • Built upon Love

    Built upon Love

    Architectural Longing after Ethics and Aesthetics

    Alberto Pérez-Gómez

    A vision of architecture that transcends concerns of form and function and finds the connections between the architect's wish to design a beautiful world and architecture's imperative to provide a better place for society.

    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. True architecture is concerned with far more than fashionable form, affordable homes, and sustainable development; it responds to a desire for an eloquent place to dwell—one that lovingly provides a sense of order resonant with our dreams. In Built upon Love Pérez-Gómez uncovers the relationship between love and architecture in order to find the points of contact between poetics and ethics—between the architect's wish to design a beautiful world and architecture's imperative to provide a better place for society.

    Eros, as first imagined by the early lyric poets of classical Greece, is the invisible force at the root of our capacity to create and comprehend the poetic image. Pérez-Gómez examines the nature of architectural form in the light of eros, seduction, and the tradition of the poetic image in Western architecture. He charts the ethical dimension of architecture, tracing the connections between philia—the love of friends that entails mutual responsibility among equals—and architectural program. He explores the position of architecture at the limits of language and discusses the analogical language of philia in modernist architectural theory. Finally, he uncovers connections between ethics and poetics, describing a contemporary practice of architecture under the sign of love, incorporating both eros and philia.

    • Hardcover $7.75 £5.99
    • Paperback $24.95 £20.00
  • Architectural Representation and the Perspective Hinge

    Architectural Representation and the Perspective Hinge

    Alberto Pérez-Gómez and Louise Pelletier

    Writing from inside the discipline of architecture, rather than from the more common extrapolations from the history of painting and philosophy, Alberto Pérez-Gómez and Louise Pelletier focus on the implications of the tool of perspective (and the hegemony of vision) for architectural representation. Their primary thesis is that tools of representation have a direct influence on the conceptual development of projects and generation of forms, and that there are alternatives to the reductive working methods of most contemporary practice.

    The book examines textual evidence across a broad historical period, concentrating on the relationship between drawing and architectural space in the period from the seventh century to the twentieth century. The book discusses such issues as optical correction and the nature of architectural drawing in selected treatises, revealing the complexity and potential contradiction inherent in any linear history of representation. The authors' ultimate aim is to probe the possibilities of the constructed world—that is, architecture—as a poetic translation, rather than prosaic transcription, of its representations.

    • Hardcover $100.00 £82.00
    • Paperback $49.95 £40.00
  • Polyphilo or The Dark Forest Revisited

    Polyphilo or The Dark Forest Revisited

    An Erotic Epiphany of Architecture

    Alberto Pérez-Gómez

    This remarkable book explores the origins of architectural beauty in the dynamics of sexual desire.

    This remarkable book explores the origins of architectural beauty in the dynamics of sexual desire. It is a daring departure from the conventional genres of architectural writing and a completely original reflection on the erotics of architecture. Pérez-Gómez retells the love story of the famous Renaissance novel/treatise Hypnerotomachia Poliphili in late twentieth-century terms. The original work, long a cult book among architects and regarded as one of the most enigmatic books ever published, takes place in a forest. In the retelling, the forest has been replaced by the high tech and pop environment of appliances and airports. Both versions exist somewhere in the borderland between fiction, theory, and pornography. The text is paralleled by a running sequence of photographic collages merging the body and the machine. The original hero of Hypnerotomachia, Poliphilo, is lost in a dark forest searching for his lover Polia, for harmony and order in a vast maze of ruined antiquities - caverns, pyramids, theaters, and temples that are described with an almost fanatic erudition and unbridled lust. This modern version of the tale imaginatively frames our own dark forest in terms of the technology that has become our "nature." The hero finds himself in the most inhospitable and uncontrollable of spaces, the space of contemporary travel: in an airport and in flight. His voyage does not take him to real buildings, but rather to a jungle of deconstructivist forms - metal grids, plastic domes, computer hardware, blueprints, construction sites, and paintings where the erotic roots of architectural meaning are disclosed and the limitations of a world subjugated by doctrine and tradition are revealed. The sites visited range from the Carceri of Piranesi and the works of Ledoux, Boullée, and Lequeu to recent theoretical and architectural projects by Hejduk, Rossi, Libeskind, and Eisenman.

    • Hardcover $39.95 £32.00
    • Paperback $22.00
  • Architecture and the Crisis of Modern Science

    Architecture and the Crisis of Modern Science

    Alberto Pérez-Gómez

    This important book, which won the 1984 Alice Davis Hitchcock Award, traces the process by which the mystical and numerological grounds for the use of number and geometry in building gave way to the more functional and technical ones that prevail in architectural theory and practice today.

    Between the late Renaissance and the early nineteenth century, the ancient arts of architecture were being profoundly transformed by the scientific revolution. This important book, which won the 1984 Alice Davis Hitchcock Award, traces the process by which the mystical and numerological grounds for the use of number and geometry in building gave way to the more functional and technical ones that prevail in architectural theory and practice today. Throughout, it relates the major architectural treatises of successive generations to the larger culture and the writings of philosophers, mathematicians, scientists, and engineers.

    The book leads the reader through the controversy that was generated by Claude Perrault in the seventeenth century. His writings began to cast doubt on the absolute aesthetic value of the classical orders and the "perfect" proportions that were architecture's legacy from Pythagorean times. Thus the once immutable "invisible" system lost its special status forever. The book focuses in particular on eighteenth-century developments in the science of mechanics and emerging techniques in structural analysis which slowly entered the architectural treatises and found their way into practice, often by way of civil and military engineers. And by the nineteenth century, the book notes, even architectural rendering and drawing were radically changed through the introduction of new descriptive and projective geometries.

    Tracing these fundamental changes in architectural intentions, Pérez-Gómez challenges many popular misconceptions about the theory and history of modern architecture. At the same time, he suggests an intangible loss, that of a culture's power to express through a building its total mathematical, mystical, and magical world-view.

    • Hardcover $37.50
    • Paperback $50.00 £40.00

Contributor

  • Mind in Architecture

    Mind in Architecture

    Neuroscience, Embodiment, and the Future of Design

    Sarah Robinson and Juhani Pallasmaa

    Leading neuroscientists and architects explore how the built environment affects our behavior, thoughts, emotions, and well-being.

    Although we spend more than ninety percent of our lives inside buildings, we understand very little about how the built environment affects our behavior, thoughts, emotions, and well-being. We are biological beings whose senses and neural systems have developed over millions of years; it stands to reason that research in the life sciences, particularly neuroscience, can offer compelling insights into the ways our buildings shape our interactions with the world. This expanded understanding can help architects design buildings that support both mind and body. In Mind in Architecture, leading thinkers from architecture and other disciplines, including neuroscience, cognitive science, psychiatry, and philosophy, explore what architecture and neuroscience can learn from each other. They offer historical context, examine the implications for current architectural practice and education, and imagine a neuroscientifically informed architecture of the future.

    Architecture is late in discovering the richness of neuroscientific research. As scientists were finding evidence for the bodily basis of mind and meaning, architecture was caught up in convoluted cerebral games that denied emotional and bodily reality altogether. This volume maps the extraordinary opportunity that engagement with cutting-edge neuroscience offers present-day architects.

    Contributors Thomas D. Albright, Michael Arbib, John Paul Eberhard, Melissa Farling, Vittorio Gallese, Alessandro Gattara, Mark L. Johnson, Harry Francis Mallgrave, Iain McGilchrist, Juhani Pallasmaa, Alberto Pérez-Gómez, Sarah Robinson

    • Hardcover $35.95 £30.00
    • Paperback $39.95 £32.00