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(1934 - 2016)

(1934 - 2016)

M an rarely, if ever, builds without
also seeking to extend his under-
standing beyond knowledge of things
to the knowledge of self. 1

H ow can we move toward a society My argument may now be reformu-
that uses its resources for the bet- lated to say: There is no imperative
terment of human condition rather that we must use any given techni-
than for destruction and waste? que. There is an imperative that we
How can we move toward a society attempt to better understand the
in which intellectually inventive activity of the architect, the problem
devotion to one’s task, rather than situation within which he works, and
appearing an almost anachronistic the reasons for his often rather bad
example, is common because it performance. At any rate, it is only
is fruitful? Only then can we pass through such an understanding of
beyond mere appreciation of good the architects in relation to his pro-
efforts to serious consideration blems that we could come to know
and comparison of the proliferating when and where to use which new
alternatives set forth by contribu- techniques. 4
tors in many fields. 2

O ne can design instruments and

We need an inquiry into “What is one can receive and manipulate
architecture?” This is not a barren artifacts; but can one design envi-
and repetitive task. Such a task ronments that meet, but are not
raises epistemological questions as
constrained by, initial purpose? The
to how the entire inquiry will be
answer is surely yes. Contributive,
conducted. It opens vast areas of
perhaps necessary, factors are com-
study concerning the plasticity, the
plexity and articulation that allow
suggestiveness, and yet the limits
for multiple and changing uses and
of the relationship of mm with his
meanings while also having the spe-
environment. These studies must
cificity to encourage and sustain
include both analytic investigations
them. Such environments can sup-
and speculative experiments in the
port the multiple and overlapping
sense of the invention of new envi-
patterns of ecological sympatry. 5
ronmental conditions. 3

2 3
If we have any ground for browbea- R eason is imperative, but reason
ting the architects of the twentieth that is guided by our affections. 7
century, that ground would not be
the universal circumstance that they
were influenced by the traditions T he rich texture of activities and
in which they found themselves. significances associated with stre-
The charge against these architects ets reinforces the difficulty but
would rather be the frequency of also the potential of a sociophysical
their self-righteous belief in their examination of them. Streets are
independence from tradition. This integral parts of our movement
supposed independence often led and communication networks; they
them into a blind submission to tra- are the places where many of our
ditions which they might otherwise conflicts or resolutions between
have critically observed and over- public and private claims are accu-
thrown. The conclusion to be drawn sed or actually played out; they are
from the tradition-bound character the arenas where the boundaries of
of our most famous contemporary conventional and aberrant behavior
architects is not that we must be are frequently redrawn… 8
rid of tradition, but rather that
we may use those traditions more
eloquently or free ourselves from
them, as we see fit. 6

4 5
[On the design of Savannah] “ P ossibilism” has developed as a
T he plan of Savannah - is selected critique of environmentalism in
and commended on the basis that both human geography and in eco-
this plan convention, with its unu- logy. I have been describing a spe-
sual combination of intricate articu- cial case of the same argument. I
lation and replication, has been able am advancing a possibilist urban
to lend environmental support to ecology. By “urban ecology” I don’t
a series of quite different patterns mean to emphasize the relation of
of habitation. It has supported syn- the entire city to its region or, quite
chronic patterns of use, sometimes generally, to nature, though this
resisting and testing, channeling but too is both present and important.
not inhibiting diachronic patterns Rather I would emphasize the rela-
of changing use. And for this very tion of individuals, groups, popula-
reason - that is, its openness to tions, and societies to their physical
reinterpretation and positive sup- urban environment - the relation
port of different uses - wholesale of social space to physical environ-
change of the physical fabric has ment. Even in nature these relations
not been necessary. Indeed, for an of organism and environment arc
American city, Savannah has shown dynamic and reciprocal. It is not
a remarkable durability with con- only the case that the environment
comitant benefits both in the effi- is a quasi­ autonomous, possibilist
cient use of resources and in the setting for the inhabiting organi-
cumulative reinforcement of certain sms; the organisms also change the
increasingly valued environmental environment, sometimes markedly
qualities. 9 or even self­ destructively. The reci-
procity of people with their urban
environment is at least as marked
as that found in nature. 10

6 7
It is important to look to history F rom my first ever lecture, at the
in order to learn about the extent Architectural Association in 1963, I
of the discipline of architecture. have been interested in the implica-
Admittedly it is possible to conduct tions of the thought of Karl Popper
historical inquiry that incorpora- and, later, the criticism and nuan-
tes information about architectu- ced reconstructions of that thou-
re without touching on what is ght offered by Imre Lakatos. The
integral to that discipline. That is, consequences of the political attack
what may be included under the on science and on liberal thought
general umbrella of the history of [“liberal” as in “liberal arts,” and as
architecture does not necessarily in American, not European, political
engage architecture or architectu- thought] is too great and proxi-
ral research. Yet even such histori- mate to be ignored. We must fight
cal inquiry may serve to define or for a more adequate understanding
criticize the perceived boundaries of science and secular rationalism.
of the discipline. More importantly, We cannot allow the political right
there is a range of widely accepted to push science (and especially the
historical inquiry about architectu- politically charged popular under-
re that also constitutes architectu- standing of science) to an absoluti-
ral research. I make this general sm that the Postmodernists falsely
comment as a preamble to recogni- attribute to science. We might begin
zing that, under a Lakatos model, a resistance to such pressure by
one is encouraged to push beyond turning again to the central claim of
conventional history to what he Popperian epistemology. All claims
termed “rational reconstruction.” 11 to knowledge must be understood
to be fallible. Under that condition,
how do we understand the opera-
tions of science, and why should we
grant it standing? 12

8 9
E xaggeration of the significance reflecting critically on his activi-
of one’s own field is one the of ties or of a behavioral scientist
the dangers of the specializa- playing a social role obscures the
tion of disciplines. There have fact that both disciplines enga-
been so-called environmentalists ge broad, intersecting ranges of
( N a i ve g e o g r ap h i c a l d e t e r m i n i- human experience , thought, and
sts), naive economic determinists, production. Still more than the
and naive cultural determinists. As disciplines themselves, the envi-
one finds such unilateral explana- ronments within which they work
tions inadequate , so one should and to which they refer are resi-
also deplore architectural deter- stant to such antisystemic claims
minism. Still, in their ardor to of the independence of elements.
connect architects on this point, Ruling out a search for the inte-
s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t s m ay d i s c o u r a- raction of physical with social,
g e i n q u i r i e s i n t o m o re s u b t l e cultural, and cognitive factors as
concepts of the interaction of nonsense is dogmatic , encoura-
people with the physical environ- ging the ver y professional chauvi-
ment. The denunciation of such nism, it purpor ts to attack. 13
effor ts as nonsense traces less
to a study of environment than
to a destructive categorization
of professional activities which
grossly separates architects from
social scientists. Rober t Gutman,
for example , perceives “the social
role of the architect as practi-
tioner and decision maker” as
opposed to the scholarly, aca-
demic and scientific role of the
behavioral scientist.” This failu-
re to conceive of an architect

10 11
[Regarding Peter Eisenman, Charles Moore, [On Lawrence Anderson, architect and Dean
Cedric Price, Maurice Smith and the Venturis] at MIT, who taught at MIT from 1947-1972]

We need rigorous comparative A nderson was the main figure to

studies of these proliferating inter- introduce architectural moderni-
pretations of architecture. Finally, sm to MIT. As a student at the
the comparison of these appro- University of Minnesota, a young
aches to emerging theories and professor at the University of
methods in the sciences may reveal Virginia, a masters’ student at MIT,
that the defeat of architectural and then a Paris prize fellow in the
determinism was part of the defeat early thirties, Anderson knew the
of determinism, not the defeat of lessons of classical training well.
architecture or of the possibility of When he began his long teaching
the unity of knowledge. 14 and administrative career at MIT in
1933, the school was still strongly
marked by that classical tradition,
even as it was being transformed
under the then-current approaches
often referred to as “stripped clas-
sicism” and “art deco.” In his tea-
ching and design, Anderson worked
through such transformations to
be the architect, in 1939, of one
of the first modern buildings on
an American campus, the Alumni
Swimming Pool at MIT. 15

12 13
[On the early modernist, German architect, [On the early modernist, German architect,
Peter Behrens] Peter Behrens]

B ehren’s search for architectural In summary, a common theme runs

form ranged from a program for through Behren’s work and writing
ideal form to melancholic expres- of these years. While he maintains
sion induced by the failure of that his mistrust of an analytic, positi-
idealist program. He never accepted vistic science and technology and
an alternative range of approaches the kind of civilization that he con-
the definitions of form through ceived such a base would yield, he
the interaction of the form with nevertheless accommodates himself
its environment. The alternative is and his work to modern industry,
also beautifully evoked by Dürer, partially through his intimations
in the carpenter’s plane, a tool of a new synthesis but much more
whose very purpose is to whittle through his notion of artistic will as
and gouge recalcitrant material into an agent of forces shaped by histo-
an approximation of a mathematical rical determinism. Industrial pro-
abstraction. Yet its form could har- duction and its intricate fusing with
dly be more lovingly expressive of political power were the realities
the materials from which it is made, that had to be served in the face
of the way in which it is made, of of material and social constraints. 17
its interaction with both the mate-
rial to be shaped and the hand that
shapes. Together, the Werkbund
and the Dürerbund exhibited many
everyday objects that participate in
such a process and such a sensibili-
ty. To recognize the absence of this
attitude in Behrens contributes to
an understanding of his work; to
trace the tradition of this attitude
of “form through use” would be the
beginning of another study. 16

14 15
[On Eladio Dieste, a noted Uruguayan engi- [On Eladio Dieste, a noted Uruguayan engi-
neer and architect] neer and architect]

T his book must aspire to be inclu- B eyond this integration of con-

sive, not as an account of Dieste’s ception and making, there is also
numerous works, or even as an Dieste’s cultural and, indeed, philo-
exhaustive account of individual sophical understanding, not only of
works. Nor should it be an inti- his work but also of his métier and
mate biography that would have of the contributions of engineers,
to rest in the hands of those who architects, and artists. If one is not
were close to this remarkable man. attuned to starting with devoted
Rather, it must seek to be inclu- inquiry into the potentials of a par-
sive in an ambition to recognize ticular material or technique, one
the wholeness of the man and the can do well to consider the higher
integral quality of his life and work. opportunities and responsibilities
Dieste was an engineer--in Spanish, advanced by Dieste, and then cycle
ingeniero. During the last century, back to the means for making
the engineering profession allowed such contributions. There are ample
that term to lose its sense of the reasons to come to know Eladio
“ingenious.” It is to some exem- Dieste. 19
plary individuals that we turn to
renew our enthusiasm for inven-
tions that are complex yet, once
realized, possess a simplicity and
seeming inevitability for inventions
that are not mere novelties. 18

16 17
[On August Pugin, an English architect, designer, [On Loos, Le Corbusier, Aalto, and Kahn]
artist and critic from the mid-19th century]
T hey sought to “put modernism in
P ugin hoped that this all-of-a-piece its place,” or perhaps better, to give
revivalism would lift one right out modernism its place. Loos spoke
of any compromise with contempo- of “creating buildings in which a
rary traditions. What this escapist modern way of living could naturally
attitude actually means was that develop.”’ I like that formulation, for
Pugin was not at all in a position it opens a space between the place
to deal with the evils of the con- provided and the life lived. Thus it
temporary tradition; his anachro- breaks any sense of determinism from
nistic endeavours would not chal- architecture to modern life or vice
lenge the most pressing problems versa. In his buildings, Le Corbusier,
directly and could not provide the relative to Loos, projected a more
innovation necessary to transform radical change both in architecture
the condition of architecture. The and in modern life - still, I believe,
reverse happened; the condition of without determinism. His machine
architecture in nineteenth century à habiter is a provocative play on a
England transformed Pugin’s ana- recurrent French construction: the
chronisms into another variation “machine to live in” poses new con-
on its own theme. 20 ditions but no more determines how
life will be lived than the machine
à écrire determines what will be
written….In their works, the archi-
tects just evoked sought to make
places that support modern fictions.
Similarly, we can assume a position
for the historian or critic: the neces-
sity of providing an adequate story
about modern architecture if we are
to criticize it and grow from it. 21

18 19
In architecture, in the twentieth In general terms, events and critici-
century, we have not lacked for sms of recent years have shaken our
conjectures, nor for criticism. But confidence in man’s ability to exert
I would suggest that we have fai- a socially beneficial control over
led to establish a rational attitude his environment by “design” by the
toward our conjectures and critici- schematic direction of actions cal-
sm. What are only conjectures have culated to achieve a pre-visioned
been put forward as utopian pana- goal. Such a proposition goes far
ceas and supported with absolutist beyond the architecture, challen-
fervour. Corroboration is always ging our reliance on human ratio-
sought; never falsification. There nality and rational action. The cri-
are frequent manifestos of what is ticism of specific incongruities and
manifestly unmanifest… Only when injustices yields a revolutionar y
we take a more critical attitude challenge of the most general form.
towards our conjectures shall we But a challenge to our incomple-
be able rationally to support, or te and imperfect rationality need
reject, some of those ideas which not be an invitation irrationality;
currently operate according to the it can equally well be the welcome
dictates of taste and fashion. 22 occasion for a critique, reformation
and growth of knowledge, attended
by more reasonable structuring of
society and the environment. 23

20 21
A realist architecture mistrusts uni- P rogrammatically, all proposals
versal claims, such as those voiced must at least potentially account
by the Darmstadt Artists’ Colony, in for both individual, willed, often
which art and the great artist magna- rational action and the existence of
nimously were to impose forms that unforeseen communitarian results.
would dictate to life. A realist archi- Present diversity and future inde-
tecture rejects a necessary, organic terminacy are central to the pro-
relation of cultural production to blem situation. Very different envi-
blood and soil (even if this claim is ronmental proposals meet these
clearer in the thought of Loos than minimal conditions. Cedric Price,
in that of Muthesius). Realist archi- for example shares Archigram’s
tecture respects but subsumes the belief that physical construction is
pure Sachlichkeit of the calculation constraining and should therefore
of mechanical needs. It establishes be minimized. But he differs from
a condition of knowing and associa- Archigram in that he see this as
tion that cannot maintain its balan- a rationally achieved policy, not
ce without speculative innovation; a historically and technologically
but this too will ordinarily appear imposed necessity. Consequently
within a framework that is the fruit he also retains a design control
of earlier speculations. Within a rea- that does not exclude built form
list architecture there is an impetus and that considers all technologies,
to understand and use our received old and new, for their possible con-
condition as much as to criticise and tribution to an indeterminate envi-
change it. 24 ronment (railroads, for example, as
well as electronics). 25

22 23
T he making or the interpretation of M any years ago I wrote a paper
contemporary architecture involves in which I argued that the field of
not only current conventions and architecture has as one of its stren-
empirical knowledge but also an gths to begin by putting problem
attempt to recall and reexamine the statements in questions. I called this
intellectual and formal conventions “problem-worrying” as against “pro-
internal to architecture throughout blem-solving.” The inventive British
history. Such an attempt directed architect Cedric Price was an exem-
toward the problems of modern plary “problem-worrier.” He was pre-
architecture would be at once more pared to find that the solution was
open and more demanding than the not through building at all. But he
complacent inversions and revivals could also introduce new criteria, or
of too much of current historio- new resources, or other problems
graphy and practice. This approach that had not previously been related
also avoids the formalism and mere to the first problem – and thus com-
taxonomies of much of the current pletely reinvent the problem and
interest in typology. 26 how it should be approached. I think
most schools of architecture incul-
cate this skepticism about problems
as received. They value reinvention.
This is a valuable capacity that
architects can bring to collaborative
research. It is an encouragement to
schools, and as much as possible to
practitioners as well, to retain their
critical faculties and to entertain
new problems and new solutions. 27

24 25
W hat the designer wishes to ask on data collection, or even on non
of the computer sciences depends adaptive algorithms will distort the
on our understanding of archi- design process and the human pur-
tectural design. A possible formula- poses involved. 28
tion, emphasizing the open-ended,
exploratory character of design, is
the following. Architecture structu- In scholarship, or in practice, I assert
res man’s environment to facilitate the importance of attending to systems
the achievement of human purpo- of memory. But I do this to fend off
ses (intellectual, psychological and abuses as to recognize responsibilities
utilitarian) where those purposes and opportunities.29
are incompletely known and can-
not be extrapolated from what
is given in the situation. Rather,
human purposes are altered by the
very environment that is created to
facilitate them. The structuring of
the environment must be accom-
plished, then, through the exercise
of tentative foresight and the cri-
tical examination of that foresight
and the actions to which it leads.
According to this description, nei-
ther the human purposes nor the
architect’s methods are fully known
in advance. Consequently, if this
interpretation of the architectural
problem situation is accepted, any
problem solving techniques that
relies on explicit problem defini-
tion, on distinct goal-orientation,

26 27
C laims for authenticity and fulfil- is a desirable living environment
lment of identity through the invo- demands sympathetic attention. It
cation of memory are normally the will, then demand close attention
rhetoric of dogmatists who would to discriminate when the Seasides
lead us, individually and collecti- and Celebrations of our world are
vely, into desperation. Less frighte- as worthy as was Vreewijk, or as
ning concepts such as “inventing nostalgic and vacuous as the Main
tradition,” or even “manufacturing Street or Disney World itself, or
heritage,” sound immediately pro- as corrupting as appeals to racial
blematic; indeed, they are so, but or class or national identity prove
they also cannot be immediately to be. And then again, why not
dismissed. We know that historical just aspire to more, including a
reconstruction of most that we higher and more critical use of our
memory? 30
value in our societies will reveal
just such “invention” and “manu-
facturing.” In retrospect we will
often admire such invention, while
being understandably (and cor-
rectly) skeptical of such endeavors
around us. When Granpré Molière
“manufactured” Vreewijk, a size-
able, traditionally based housing
complex in the radically moder-
nizing port city of Rotterdam, he
was understandably criticised by
the modernists around him. But,
two things: 1) I suggest that the
modernists themselves, at their
best, employed what I have called
“vernacular usage”; 2) The fact that
today, seventy years later, Vreewijk

28 29
It is curious that the German- of Le Corbusier, Aalto, Kahn, and
educated Krautheimer should have others is not history, but exercises
attributed the notion of ‘history as in memory, and invention in rela-
it was,’ the well-known slogan of tion to memory. This disciplinary
the famed German positivist histo- memory can be as interesting for
rian of the 19th century, Leopold historians as for architects, and it
von Ranke, to the Anglo-Saxons. can be examined with full attention
More curious still that, in 1969, he to the monument. It is the only way
should have thought this positivist to write a history of the disciplines
program to be intellectually viable. opposed to a history of the cata-
But what his comments reveal is logue of monuments. There should
the degree to which architectural be historical reconstruction based
history once did, and more rarely on the logic of the situation and
thus a history internal to the disci-
still does, insist on descriptive
pline of architecture; or, Memory
penetration to a point where the
in architecture. 31
historian is so aware of details
that only the uniqueness of the
monument emerges. Krautheimer
seems willingly to cut off the
historian’s participation in a disci-
plinar y memor y that enter tains
other questions. Systematic que-
stions about types, or what I have
here called disciplinary constituen-
ts, become suspect for neglecting
some aspects of the building while
entertaining hypothetical relations
of works across time and space.
Yet that is just what engages archi-
tects and some other historians.
What we may see in the work

30 31
As historians, we are involved in at theoretical positions-both for fidelity
least two research programs: that of to the archive and for the fruit­f ulness
the person/group/era under study of the inquiry proposed (condi­tions
and that of our own research. These which may be, but are even more
two programs are not strictly sepa- likely not, coincident). There is a crit­
rable. The logic of our own program ical conventionalism to the historian’s
pro­ p oses a logic for the subject enterprise as much as there is to
under in­q uiry. Thus, as in the writings the architect’s… Any social practice,
of the philosopher and historian of such as architecture or the history of
science lmre Lakatos, our historical architecture, takes place in a field of
inquiry may be concerned more with overlapping, often competing conven-
the logic of the situations than with tions. Sound practice recognizes the
the actual train of events. Indeed, the quasi-autonomy of these conventions
and thus for their own beauty and
necessity of the historian’s point of
order as well as for their possible
view calls into question the accessi-
perpetuation. But sound practice also
bility of “the actual train of events.”
requires that we recognize the limits
Yet we need not be reduced to a
and discover the potentials of these
thoroughgoing relativism. It is true
conventions within their domain of
that the research we conduct about
practice. Conventions and practice
the subject under study is set by
criticize one another. They thus can
our program of inquiry. Furthermore,
sustain a reasoned and empirically
that program has no ab­solute basis,
based practice within societies that
but rather a theoretical core that is
maintain discourse. 32
adopted and held by con­vention. The
rationality of the enter­p rise consists
in improving the re­lationship betwe-
en that conventional core and the
historical setting. A new theoretical
enterprise may yield new insights
within a familiar setting. Con­versely,
it is possible to criticize alter­n ative

32 33
C riticism should ask what each period for its problematic aspects
work or research program has con- and sometime unfortunate progeny,
tributed to the advancement of the we could encourage the growth of
discipline of architecture and to the the discipline of architecture throu-
culture more generally. It should gh a critical assessment of the past
ask how these works and programs and through a critical practice. 33
have served society. The answers
may yield reinterpretations of both
modernity and postmodernity, quite
possibly blurring the distinction
between the two. It should also inhi-
bit claims that there was a doctrine
of modern architecture. Colin Rowe
likes to tell the story of the liberal
Anglican dean who espoused some
version of free thinking, but was
brought up short by the retort:
“No doctrine! No Dean!” So what
if there was another doctrine of
modern architecture? No problem.
No doctrine, no Dean, but also
no failure of doctrine. There were
and are new theories within the
architecture of this century. There
were research programs of varying
degrees of success from which we
can learn, there were some splendid
buildings. There were also nume-
rous specific failings. But again, no
doctrine, no absolute failure. Rather
than entirely reject an innovative

34 35
A rchitectural practice is an impor- W ithout any abandonment of the
tant part of our “professional” scho- pursuit of a rational understanding,
ols of architecture since we are we can again plunder the history
legally accredited to aid in the deve- of architecture and the present
lopment of individuals who will take problem situation in order to con-
their place in a licensed profession. struct a position that does justi-
Yet, for all the importance of this ce of both the metaphysical and
professionalism, it is far from being physical aspects of environment.
the full extent of what we under- Restoring the authority of past
stand as architecture. The discipli- forms is not the intent of such an
ne of architecture reaches outside inquiry. We are challenged, rather,
the profession to the population at to make idea and form operati-
large, incorporating amateurs (in the ve, intellectually and pragmatically,
best sense of the word), historians, within a metaphysic that denies
preservationists, ecologists, environ- final authority to any form. 35
mentalists, and others. The discipline
incorporates knowledge that was
developed in other times or cultu-
res and which seemingly may be of
little interest within the professio-
nal activities of the moment. Such
knowledge is nonetheless present to
us and remains a potential resource.
The discipline also offers the oppor-
tunity to speculate and push beyond
what is likely to be available within
the constraints of current practice. 34

36 37
At the time of my interview with [A footnote reads:]
Mies, I was beginning to interpret A rt historians often use historicist
Behrens’ architectural work, not to denote a reliance on historical
yet engaged by issues of industrial precedent. Since everything fulfills
design. A clue offered by Mies this definition in some sense, I pre-
now leads me to risk a specula- fer to reserve the words historici-
tion about Behrens’ form-making. sm and historicist for a quite diffe-
I had asked of Behrens’ interest in rent use. In accord with the usage
the Early Renaissance. Mies accep- of at least some philosophers, I use
ted this, but emphasized Early historicism to refer to attitudes
Christian work and then carefully which claim that certain events
noted Etruscan vases as an inte- must take place in satisfaction of
rest of Behrens.[bucchero vases the forces of history or destiny.
and Behrens’ arc lamps]. Such a See , for example , Karl Popper,
comment not being at the center The Pover ty of Historicism (Boston:
of my interest at the time, I failed Beacon, 1957). 37
to pursue the matter with Mies
and only now have scanned some
literature on Etruscan vases. Vases
were produced over centuries and
in many forms as well as types of
ornamentation. It is highly specula-
tive to select any type of Etruscan
vase as that which may have inte-
rested Behrens. Nonetheless, I do
find the bucchero work, and some
similar impasto work, of the seven-
th centur y BCE so provocative,
that I risk simply putting forth a
comparison of images — to be
explored another day. 36

38 39
• The logic of Research pro- • Earlier positions may be
grams opposes meta-histo- rationally reconstructed to
ries that would make of such serve well in new circum-
phenomena as globalization stances.
a historical necessity or an • The internal history of archi-
unassailable force. tecture, and architectures, is
• The logic of Research pro- more crucial than the con-
grams reveals and values mul- ventional or external history.
tiple lines of inquiry. • The logic of Research Programs
offers internal histories that
• The logic of Research pro-
recognize what architectu-
grams is resistant to periodi-
re can uniquely bring to the
zation and apparent necessi-
table, but nonetheless also
ties imposed by claims for a
recognizes the quasi-auto-
nomy of architecture - that
• Modernity is not a period, it must engage its social and
but, as Foucault has said, an technical dimensions. 38
• Modernity itself might be
seen as a broad and extended
research program. How do
rationalism and the pursuit
of liberty and justice, survive,
adapt, and thrive under chan-
ging external conditions?
• Globalization should not
be reified, periodized. It is
not new in our time. It is
not monolithic. It presents

40 41
T here are a number of kinds of both profession and discipline
architectural research that all have – and has a lasting effect upon
their place and deserve to enter into the discipline.
critical discourse:
• And finally, a type of inquiry,
• Research conducted throu- rational reconstruction, that
gh architectural and building draws on both historical and
practice. architectural resources —
starting from historical data
• Research on building and envi- but open to new questions
ronmental issues conducted that may affect the discipli-
by neighboring disciplines, ne and/or the profession of
including those in engineering architecture. 39
and science.

• Research in architectural
institutions that may be more
abstract than in practice but
is directed to issues current-
ly confronting the profession.

• A broad realm of research

within the discipline of archi-
tecture that may, or may not W hat can we make of this theoretically? 40
yet – or may never – impact

• Research in the intersection of

profession and discipline: I have
used Le Corbusier’s Five Points
to illustrate the perhaps rare
but important research that
emerges from, and engages,

42 43
Stanford Anderson
(photo courtesy of Nancy Royal).

In Memoriam
Stanford Anderson (1934–2016)
N a n c y S t i e b e r, U n i v e r s i t y o f M a s s a c h u s e t t s , B o s t o n
Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 76, No. 1 (March 2017), pp. 10-12.

This is my simple advocacy: the fruitfulness of recognizing

the strengths and the claims of, on one side, our theories and
conventions, that should not be held dogmatically, and, on the
other, the realities, that are in some ways obdurate but often
remarkably and fascinatingly malleable. To seek to live only a
life of the mind at one pole, or of materiality at the other, or
of coercive power from either, is to impoverish one’s self, one’s
discipline, and one’s smaller or greater community. 41

S tanford Anderson was an architect, teacher,

historian, urbanist, and critic of architectu-
re. From the start of his career he studied the
relationships of culture and society with design,
seeking to refine a theoretical framework for
understanding the architectural discipline, its
constraints and potentials for supporting and
enhancing life. Through sustained and probing
studies of Peter Behrens, Hermann Muthesius, Le
Corbusier, Alvar Aalto, Eladio Dieste, and others,
Stan examined design with an architect’s preci-
sion and a scholar’s rigor. He identified himself
as a member of the generation contending with
postwar reactions against modernism; his histo-
rical, theoretical, and critical work can be inter-
preted as an energetic and unrelenting defense

of architecture as a rational endeavor and of and the Association of Collegiate Schools of
modernism as a liberating force. Architecture awarded him the Topaz Medallion
for Excellence in Architectural Education, the
Born in Minnesota, Stan was raised in South
highest distinction honoring an individual who
Dakota before returning to Minnesota for an
has made outstanding contributions to the tea-
undergraduate degree in architecture. He ear-
ching of architecture.
ned a master’s degree in architecture from the
University of California, Berkeley, in 1958 and In the mid-1960s Stan began ar ticulating a
conducted disser tation research on Behrens historiographical and epistemological position
supported by a Fulbright Fellowship in Munich in intended to redress a malaise he identified in
1961–62, receiving a doctorate from Columbia architecture practice. He perceived a degene-
University in 1968. In 1962–63 Stan taught at ration of modernism into a relativistic rootles-
the Architectural Association in London. He was sness that had led to decorative stylism in the
then invited by Henry Millon to join the archi- work of such architects as Philip Johnson. Stan
tecture faculty at MIT in 1963, and together sought to find a position that would anchor the
they created MIT’s pioneering doctoral program discipline of architecture in a rational discour-
History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture se, but one avoiding technological reduction of
and Art (HTC), established in May 1975. Stan architecture to problem solving—a point of view
directed the program from its inception through that he believed falsely interpreted the history
1991, when he became head of the Architecture of modernism as that of pure functionalism.
Department, a position he held through January From this initial concern with contemporary
2005. During his more than fifty years at MIT, practice, Stan developed an evolving epistemo-
Stan developed fruitful ties with a number logical approach drawn from the philosophy of
of leading institutions, from the Institute for science and with implications for reinterpreting
Architecture and Urban Studies in New York, the history of architecture. History, then, was
where he was resident fellow 1970–72, to the to be used as a critical tool within architectural
College of Architecture and Urban Planning at discourse, as a means to promote the growth of
Tongji University in Shanghai, where he was knowledge within the discipline, distinguished
honorary professor at the time of his death. from the art historical project on the one hand
In 2004 the American Institute of Architects and precedent-seeking historicism on the other.

48 49
Key to this endeavor was a keen awareness of between problem and form such that solu-
what Stan first called the semiautonomy of archi- tions may themselves stimulate reformulation of
tecture and later renamed quasi-autonomy. In goals. In analyses of Le Corbusier’s Carpenter
a series of essays written in the mid-1960s, he Center at Harvard University, Gerrit Rietveld’s
argued repeatedly against any form of historical Schröder House, and Peter Eisenman’s numbe-
determinism as an explanation for the generation red house series, among other examples, and in
of architectural form, whether based on social particular at the 1969 exhibition F o r m a n d U s e
conditions, technology, or an interpretation of i n A rc h i t e c t u r e a t M I T, S t a n i l l u s t r a t e d t h e
the zeitgeist. 42 Yet he firmly held that history as a q u a si-autonomy of architecture by demonstra-
source of architectural knowledge should not be ting the fluidity of the relationship between form
jettisoned. Instead, a critical analysis of history and function, where forms may engender unan-
could be construed as necessary for structuring ticipated uses and the same uses may be served
an understanding of the world. Tradition and by varying forms. He argued that De Stijl and Le
convention are essential to such understanding, Corbusier’s Five Points projected new ways of
he held, but neither should be deterministic or conceiving form, space, and light fundamental to
authoritarian. Rather, they should remain open the development of the architectural discipline
to change, subject to rational challenge throu- while they simultaneously implied new uses and
gh critical historical examination. Drawing first meanings for architecture with potentials that
on Karl Popper’s social theory of tradition and could be deployed beyond those they initially
soon after on Imre Lakatos’s theory of resear- served. The historian pays heed, then, not simply
ch programs, Stan offered architectural history to internal disciplinary developments but also
a model based on those theorists’ approaches to the social constraints and opportunities that
to reconstructing the growth of knowledge in limit and enable those developments, to the ways
science. Like scientists, architects work from of living that architecture itself permits, and to
a hard core of assumptions (traditions, con- the reconfigurations, both internal and external
ventions) from which they develop hypotheses to the discipline, that ensue over time. The plan
that are tested through their designs. Forms are of Savannah became Stan’s touchstone for explo-
not generated as inevitable solutions to clearly ring these ideas in urbanism as he convincingly
stated problems; rather, there is a reciprocity demonstrated how the layout of the city’s wards

50 51
fostered anticipated and unanticipated use. 43 unrestricted by any constraints on their expla-
Over the following decades, he expanded on nations that, once again, criticism has no hold.” 47
this historiographical approach, rehearsing with Through a sustained consideration of vernacu-
increasing conviction and nuance the reciprocity lar architecture as a conceptual model for the
of relations among history, ideas, society, and relationship between society and its artifacts, he
architectural practice, and calling attention to explored tradition and convention once again,
the tension between architects’ commitment to this time interrogating architectural practice as
disciplinary autonomy and the inevitable neces- it negotiates between social memory and disci-
sity of response to external conditions both plinary memory. 48 In recent years, he found new
enabling and constraining. 44 ways to express the nature of thinking both in
and through architecture, parsing what archi-
In the 1980s, Stan again argued against the
tecture alone can contribute while nonetheless
reductionist interpretation of modernism as
acknowledging the necessity that architecture
functionalist, now promulgated by apologists for
engage the social. 49
postmodernism, by applying his concept of semi
or quasi-autonomy. The Villa Savoye, he proposed, The theoretical positions revisited here in brief
“ ‘makes a world’ that does not determine, but found consistent application in Stan’s historical
does allow us to live and think differently than research. His topics grew from his deep engage-
if it did not exist.” 45 In the work of Adolf Loos, ment with the early phases of modernism that
Le Corbusier, Aalto, and Louis Kahn he found he had encountered in his groundbreaking rese-
architects whose recognition of the “potentials arch on Peter Behrens. That had disclosed the
and joys” of architecture belies any determinism complexities of Behrens’s distrust of positivist
from function; instead, their practice of archi- technology and science as he found aesthetic
tecture reveals new potentials for living. 46 He expression for the modern condition of indu-
turned to the concept of “critical conventionali- strial society. 50 A series of studies focusing on
sm” to indicate “conventions and their systems figures such as Muthesius, Heinrich Tessenow,
of authority and self-perpetuation as semiauto- Loos, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe subtly dis-
nomous: neither completely determined by the sected the various meanings of Sachlichkeit to
reality within which they exist, and therefore reveal the distance between a pure functionalist
beyond criticism, nor so completely arbitrary, so conception and a sachliche Kunst that responded

52 53
to the needs of modern life by creating a cultural Notes
milieu. 51 More recently, he turned his attention
1. Stanford Anderson, “Form and Use in Architecture,” leaflet for an
to two architects who exemplified a principled
exhibition at Hayden Gallery, MIT January 28 - March 2 [March 11], 1969.
and reasoned approach to architectural research:
Photocopy of typescript, 12.
Alvar Aalto, in whose “methodical accommoda-
2. Stanford Anderson, “The Ineffectiveness of Architectural Education,”
tion of circumstance” Stan found a rationality
in Emilio Ambasz, ed., Architectural Education USA: Issues, Ideas and People.
misunderstood by the apologists for modernism;
A Conference to Explore Current Alternatives, (Museum of Modern Art: New
and Eladio Dieste, whose continuous quest for York, 1971), 2.
tectonic innovations Stan distinguished from the 3. Ibid., 4.
superficial pursuit of novelty. 52 Shortly before his 4. Stanford Anderson, “Problem-Solving and Problem-Worrying” (paper
death, Stan received a copy of the book he coe- presented at the Architectural Association, London, 1966), 7.
dited on Jean Krämer, head of Behrens’s atelier 5. Stanford Anderson, On Streets (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991), 7.
during the decade of Behrens’s most significant 6. Marcus Whiffen, The History, Theory, And Criticism of Architecture
work, a study that happily returned him to the (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1965), 75.
subject of his initial research. 53 He was planning 7. Hermann Muthesius and Stanford Anderson, Style Architecture and
to write a book on the history of CASE, the Building Art (Santa Monica: The Getty Center for the History of Art and the
Conference of Architects for the Study of the Humanities, 1994), 35.
Environment, which from 1964 to 1969 had pro- 8. Anderon, On Streets, 1.
vided Stan and like-minded architects an intel- 9. Stanford Anderson, “The Plan of Savannah and Changes of Occupancy
lectual platform. 54 That missing project would during its Early Years: City Plan as Resource,” Harvard Architecture Review
have subjected his own history and historio- 2 (1981): 67.
graphy to the very critical reflection he had so 10. Ibid., 61.

fruitfully practiced throughout his career. 11. Stanford Anderson, “Research in the Profession and Discipline of
Architecture,” Architecture Research Futures (2005): 13.
12. Ibid., 9.
13. Anderson, On Streets, 1.
14. Anderson, “The Ineffectiveness of Architectural Education,” 4.
15. Stanford Anderson, “The New Empiricism-Bay Region Axis: Kay Fisker
and Postwar Debates on Functionalism, Regionalism, and Monumentality”.
Journal of Architecture Education 50 (3) (1997): 204.

54 55
16. Stanford Anderson, Peter Behrens and a New Architecture for the Twentieth 34. Anderson, “Research in the Profession and Discipline of
Century (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002), 260. Architecture,” 11-12.
17. Stanford Anderson “Modern Architecture and Industry: Peter Behrens 35. Anderson, “Environment as Artifact: Methodological Implications,” 71.
and the Cultural Policy of Historical Determinism,” Oppositions No. 11, 36. Stanford Anderson, “Considering Peter Behrens: Interviews with Ludwig
Winter 1977 (1977): 69. Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius,” inperson interviews in Chicago
18. Stanford Anderson, Eladio Dieste (New York: Princeton Architectural (1961) and Cambridge (1964).
Press, 2004), 13. 37. Stanford Anderson, “Peter Behrens and The New Architecture of
19. Ibid., 14. Germany 1900-1917,” (PhD diss., Columbia University, 1968), 39.
20. Whiffen, The History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture, 85. 38. Stanford Anderson, “Rational Reconstructions and Architectural
21. Stanford Anderson, “The Fiction of Function,” Assemblage, no. 2 Knowledge,” in Kristian Faschingeder, Kari Jormakka, Norbert Korrek, Olaf
(1987): 29. Pfeifer and Gerd Zimmermann, eds., Architecture in the Age of Empire / Die
22. Whiffen, The History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture, 86-87. Architektur der Neuen Weltordnung, 11th Internationales Bauhaus-Kolloquium,
23. Stanford Anderson, “Environment as Artifact: Methodological 2010 (Weimar: Universitätsverlag, 2011), 174.
Implications,” Casabella, no. 359-360 (1971): 71. 39. Anderson, “Research in the Profession and Discipline of
24. Muthesius and Anderson, Style Architecture and Building Art, 35. Architecture,” 14-15.
25. Anderson, “Environment as Artifact: Methodological Implications,” 71. 40. Anderson, “Memory without Monuments: Vernacular Architecture.”
26.. Stanford Anderson, “Types And Conventions in Time: Toward a History 41. Stanford Anderson, “Quasi-autonomy in Architecture: The Search for an
for the Duration and Change of Artifacts,” Perspecta, no. 18 (1982):117. ‘In-Between,’” Perspecta 33 (2002): 37.
27. Anderson, “Research in the Profession and Discipline of Architecture”, 7. 42. Stanford Anderson, “Radical and Relativistic Attitudes towards
28. Stanford Anderson, “Experiments in Computer Aided Design, Report Architectural Design,” Connection (December 1964), 7–15; Stanford Anderson,
From the Department of Architecture, MIT” AD, no. 9 (1969): 514. “Architecture and Tradition that Isn’t ‘Trad, Dad,’” in The History, Theory and
29. Stanford Anderson, “Memory without Monuments: Vernacular Criticism of Architecture, ed. Marcus Whiffen (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1966),
Architecture,” (Presented in St Louis). 71–89; Stanford Anderson, “Problem-Solving and Problem-Worrying” (lectu-
30. Ibid. re delivered at the Architectural Association, London, March 1966).
31. Stanford Anderson, “Memory in Architecture,”Daidalos 58 (December 43. Stanford Anderson, “Studies toward an Ecological Model of the Urban
1995): 36. Environment,” in On Streets, ed. Stanford Anderson (Cambridge: MIT Press,
32. Stanford Anderson, “Critical Conventionalism: The History of 1978), 267–336; Stanford Anderson, “The Plan of Savannah and Changes of
Architecture,” Midgård 1, no.1 (1987): 47. Occupancy during Its Early Years: City Plan as Resource,” Harvard Architecture
33. Taisto H. Mäkelä and Wallis Miller, Wars of Classification (New York: Review 2 (1981): 60–67; Stanford Anderson, “Savannah and the Issue of
Princeton Architectural Press, 1991), 31. Precedent: City Plan as Resource,” in Settlements in the Americas: Cross-Cultural

56 57
Perspectives, ed. Ralph Bennett (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1993), Peter Behrens and a New Architecture for the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: MIT
110–44. Press, 2000).

44. Stanford Anderson, “The Presentness of Interpretation and of Artifacts: 51. Stanford Anderson, “The Legacy of German Neo-classicism and Bieder-

Towards a History for the Duration and Change of Artifacts,” in History meier: Behrens, Tessenow, Loos, and Mies,” Assemblage 15 (Oct. 1991): 62–87;

in, of, and for Architecture, ed. John E. Hancock (Cincinnati: School of Stanford Anderson, “Sachlichkeit and Modernity, or Realist Architecture,”

Architecture and Interior Design, 1981), 49–57; Stanford Anderson, “Types in Otto Wagner: Reflections on the Raiment of Modernity, ed. Harry Mallgrave

and Conventions in Time: Towards a History for the Duration and Change (Santa Monica: Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities,

of Artifacts,” Perspecta 18 (1982): 108–17, 206–7; Stanford Anderson, 1993), 322–60; Stanford Anderson, introduction to Style-Architecture and

“Architectural Design as a System of Research Programmes,” Design Studies Building-Art: Transformations of Architecture in the Nineteenth Century and its

5 (July 1984): 146–50. Present Condition, by Hermann Muthesius (Santa Monica: Getty Center for

45. Stanford Anderson, “The Fiction of Function,” in Putting Modernism in the History of Art and the Humanities, 1994), 1–42.

Place: Rowlett Report, ed. Malcolm Quantrill (College Station: Texas A&M 52. Stanford Anderson, ed., Eladio Dieste: Innovation in Structural Art (New

University, 1985), 31. York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2004); Stanford Anderson, Gail Fenske,

46. Stanford Anderson, “The Fiction of Function,” Assemblage 2 (Feb. and David Fixler, eds., Aalto and America (New Haven: Yale University Press,

1987): 18–31. 2012).

53. Stanford Anderson, “The Atelier of Peter Behrens, 1908–1918,” in Jean
47. Stanford Anderson, “Critical Conventionalism in Architecture,”
Krämer, Architect, and the Atelier of Peter Behrens, ed. Stanford Anderson, Karen
Assemblage 1 (Oct. 1986): 7.
Grunow, and Carsten Krohn (Weimar: Weimar Verlag, 2015).
48. Stanford Anderson, “Memory in Architecture/Erinnerung in der Architek-
54. An initial exploration of the history of CASE appeared in 2013:
tur,” Daidalos 58 (Dec. 1995): 22–37; Stanford Anderson, “Memory without
Stanford Anderson, “CASE and MIT: Engagement,” in A Second Modernism:
Monuments: Vernacular Architecture,” Traditional Dwellings and Settlements
MIT, Architecture, and the “Techno-Social” Moment, ed. Arindam Dutta
Review 11, no. 1 (Fall 1999): 12–22; Stanford Anderson, “The Vernacular,
(Cambridge: MIT Press, 2013), 578–651.
Memory, and Modernism,” in Vernacular Modernism: Heimat, Globalization,
and the Built Environment, ed. Maiken Umbach and Bernd Hüppauf (Stanford:
Stanford University Press, 2005), 157–71.
49. Stanford Anderson, “Thinking in Architecture,” in ptah 08 Yearbook,
ed. Esa Laaksonen (Helsinki: Alvar Aalto Academy, 2009): 72–86; Stanford
Anderson, “Rational Reconstructions and Architectural Knowledge” in
Architecture in the Age of Empire/Die Architektur der Neuen Weltordnung, ed.
Kristian Faschingeder, Kari Jormakka, Norbert Korrek, Olaf Pfeifer, and Gerd
Zimmermann (Weimar: Universitatsverlag, 2011), 163–75.
50. A revised version of the dissertation was published as Stanford Anderson,

58 59