Skip navigation
Hardcover | ISBN: 9780262132916 | 139 pp. | 8.9 x 9 in | March 1993
Paperback | $32.95 Trade | £22.95 | ISBN: 9780262631440 | 139 pp. | 8.9 x 9 in | March 1993

On Weathering

The Life of Buildings in Time


On Weathering illustrates the complex nature of the architectural project by taking into account its temporality, linking technical problems of maintenance and decay with a focused consideration of their philosophical and ethical implications.In a clear and direct account supplemented by many photographs commissioned for this book, Mostafavi and Leatherbarrow examine buildings and other projects from Alberti to Le Corbusier to show that the continual refinishing of the building by natural forces adds to, rather than detracts from, architectural meaning. Their central discovery, that weathering makes the "final" state of the construction necessarily indefinite, challenges the conventional notion of a building's completeness.By recognizing the inherent uncertainty and inevitability of weathering and by viewing the concept of weathering as a continuation of the building process rather than as a force antagonistic to it, the authors offer alternative readings of historical constructions and potential beginnings for new architectural projects.Mohsen Mostafavi is Associate Professor of Architecture and Director of the Master of Architecture I Program at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University. David Leatherbarrow is Chairman of the Department of Architecture and of the Program in Urban Design at the Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania.

About the Authors

Mohsen Mostafavi is Dean of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University.

David Leatherbarrow is Professor of Architecture and Chairman of the Graduate Group in Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania.


“This is a delightful and even brilliant essay on a largely neglected theme in architecture. Outside of technical literature, few architectural historians, theorists, or critics have considered the material consequences of the temporal dimension with respect to either the making or the experience of architecture. Leatherbarrow and Mostafavi make this theme a theoretical investigation, in the very best sense of that increasingly problematic enterprise.”
Alan J. Plattus, Associate Dean, School of Architecture, Yale University
“From Ancient Rome to the present, a broad range of examples are marshaled for the purpose of illuminating contemporary practice and understanding. The most profound examples (Palazzo Zuccari, Brion Cemetery) transform the practical necessities into rich metaphor, whereby stains become the basis of light, aging of metamorphosis and renewal. This, finally, is seen to exemplify an approach not only to the processes and meanings of nature, but even more, of history, that is more genuinely creative than the strident calls for wholesale renewal to which we have been periodically subjected.”
Peter Carl, University of Cambridge