The Grand Tour was once the culmination of an architect's education. As a journey to the cultural sites of Europe, the Tour's agenda was clearly defined: to study ancient monuments in order to reproduce them at home. Architects returned from their Grand Tours with rolls of measured drawings and less tangible spoils: patronage, commissions, and cultural cachet. Although no longer carried out under the same name, the practices inscribed by the Grand Tour have continued relevance for contemporary architects.
Artifacts (including works of architecture) play dual roles; they simultaneously perform functions and carry meaning. Columns support roofs, but while the sturdy Tuscan and Doric types traditionally signify masculinity, the slim and elegant Ionic and Corinthian kinds read as feminine. Words are often inscribed on objects. (On a door: “push” or “pull.”) Today, information is digitally encoded (dematerialized) and displayed (rematerialized) to become part of many different objects, at one moment appearing on a laptop screen and at another, perhaps, on a building facade (as in Times Square).
Contemporary architecture is in many ways a monstrous thing. It is bigger, more broadly defined, increasingly complicated, more costly, and stylistically and formally heterogeneous—if not downright unhinged. Not only is the scale of the built environment expanding, but so is the territory of the architectural profession itself. A perfect storm of history, technology, economics, politics, and pedagogy has generated a moment in time in which anything seems possible. The results have been at times strange and even frightening.
Architecture, at least since the beginning of the twentieth century, has suspended historical references in favor of universalized abstraction. In the decades after the Second World War, when architectural historians began to assess the legacy of the avant-gardes in order to construct a coherent narrative of modernism’s development, they were inevitably influenced by contemporary concerns.
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.
I, like you, drive too much. I buy too much—of which I keep too much and also throw too much away. I overindulge my children, and myself. Directly as well as indirectly I use too much water, energy, air and space. My existence, in short, costs the planet more than it can afford. This is not some handed-down moral stricture, nor any sort of guilty self-flagellation, but a simple recognition of fact. The consequences are obvious, and near enough now to see the warts on their noses. For my own future, as well as my children's, I must change.
This edition of Perspecta, the oldest and most distinguished student-edited architectural journal in America, investigates the transformation of capital cities in the era of globalization. This redevelopment, renewal, and recycling of the urban landscape--termed by the editors as “Re_Urbanism”--takes place as capital cities try both to cater to an influx of global capital and to reassert their roles as symbols of national sovereignty. Re_Urbanism investigates this process from an architectural perspective.
In Enduring Innocence, Keller Easterling tells the stories of outlaw "spatial products"—resorts, information technology campuses, retail chains, golf courses, ports, and other hybrid spaces that exist outside normal constituencies and jurisdictions—in difficult political situations around the world. These spaces—familiar commercial formulas of retail, business, and trade—aspire to be worlds unto themselves, self-reflexive and innocent of politics. But as Easterling shows, in reality these enclaves can become political pawns and objects of contention.
This is a book that students of architecture will want to keep in the studio and in their backpacks. It is also a book they may want to keep out of view of their professors, for it expresses in clear and simple language things that tend to be murky and abstruse in the classroom. These 101 concise lessons in design, drawing, the creative process, and presentation—from the basics of "How to Draw a Line" to the complexities of color theory—provide a much-needed primer in architectural literacy, making concrete what too often is left nebulous or open-ended in the architecture curriculum.