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Architecture's Historical Turn

Architecture's Historical Turn: Phenomenology and the Rise of the Postmodern

Jorge Otero-Pailos
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 356
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  • Book Info
    Architecture's Historical Turn
    Book Description:

    In Architecture’s Historical Turn, Jorge Otero-Pailos shows how architectural phenomenology radically transformed the way architects engaged, theorized, and produced history. He reveals how, ultimately, the rise of architectural phenomenology played a crucial double role in the rise of postmodernism, creating the antimodern specter of a historical consciousness and offering the modern notion of essential experience as the means to defeat it.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7362-9
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION Architectural Intellectuality at the Dawn of Postmodernism
    (pp. xi-xxxiv)

    By the early 1960s, a young postwar generation of architects had seized the idea that architecture should participate in the liberation of human experience from the constraints of the social status quo. Raised during the ascendancy of postwar modernism in the West, they viewed its austere institutionalized aesthetics as the emblem of an oppressive and closed social order. They thought individual experience had been impoverished by the process of industrialization and became disillusioned with the modernist faith in technology as the driver of emancipation. In a radical break from modernist ideology, some members of that generation sought to reground the...

  5. CHAPTER ONE A Polygraph of Architectural Phenomenology
    (pp. 1-24)

    The nature of architectural phenomenology makes it challenging to historicize. That it presented itself as a new way of doing architectural history requires that one contend with its historiographical conventions without succumbing to them. Yetafterarchitectural phenomenology, it is not possible to simply approach it through the traditional historiographical frameworks it undermined and reconfigured. Its very nature and legacy defy that operation. It disappears under the lenses of architectural histories based on personal biography, self-identified groups, individual schools, institutions, geopolitical borders, or architectural styles.

    To uncover how architectural phenomenology gained coherence requires a new critical historiography capable of moving...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Eucharistic Architecture Jean Labatut and the Search for Pure Sensation
    (pp. 25-99)

    In 1973, the University of Virginia awarded the prestigious Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Medal to Jean Labatut for his lifetime contribution to the advancement of architecture.¹ Previous recipients included Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1966), Alvar Aalto (1967), Marcel Breuer (1968), John Ely Burchard (1969), Kenzo Tange (1970), Jose Luis Sert (1971), and Lewis Mumford (1972). Labatut’s name has fallen into obscurity. But to his contemporaries, he was known as one of the most influential teachers of the mid-twentieth century in America. The Jefferson Medal recognized Labatut as a “teacher of teachers.” Indeed, his old Princeton student, J. Norwood Bosserman...

  7. CHAPTER THREE LSDesign Charles W. Moore and the Delirious Interior
    (pp. 100-145)

    In December 1979,Progressive Architectureasked American architects to nominate the most influential architects from among their peers. Charles Moore (1925–1993) made the top ten. He also came in first in terms of number of pages devoted to a single architect by the magazine. His influence was not confined to the profession but extended deep into academia as well. In 1989 the American Collegiate Schools of Architecture, in partnership with the American Institute of Architects, awarded him the Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education. The board conferring the award described him as “a brilliant and inspiring force who...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Photo[historio]graphy Christian Norberg-Schultz’s Demotion of Textual History
    (pp. 146-182)

    Christian Norberg-Schulz was one of the most influential architecture theorists of the 1960s and 1970s. He was a key interpreter of phenomenology in general and of Martin Heidegger in particular for architectural audiences. His popular definition of architecture as a meaningful expression of the genius loci, or the spirit of place, was animated by a peculiar understanding of historiography, which he developed over the course of his career. In three pivotal texts,Intentions in Architecture(1965),Existence, Space and Architecture(1971), andGenius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture(1979), Norberg-Schulz set out to reformulate how architects looked at and...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Surplus Experience Kenneth Frampton and the Subterfuges of Bourgeois Taste
    (pp. 183-250)

    For Kenneth Frampton, making buildings where people could pursue aesthetic experiences was an ethical commitment dependent on, and appropriate to, progressive social politics. However, despite Frampton’s enormous influence in architectural culture around the world, the experiential core of his theory of critical regionalism remains unexamined. Unless we deeply comprehend how Frampton understood aesthetic experience, we will minimize its political thrust and import in architecture. Significantly, Frampton’s critics and commentators have not dealt with his peculiar understanding of experience in any detail. Many members of his generation, such as architect-historian Alan Colquhoun (b. 1921), focused instead on his opposition of the...

  10. EPILOGUE After Architectural Phenomenology
    (pp. 251-262)

    Architectural phenomenology radically transformed architectural historiography, expanding traditional theories of history beyond mere writing conventions to include a more ambiguous experiential intellectual realm expressed through photography, graphic design, camouflage studies, and in short, a wealth of visual techniques imported from architectural practice. Yet the intellectual history of architecture has once again become surprisingly text-centric. Contemporary textbooks and compendia on the history of architectural intellectuality invariably mention phenomenology as a major movement and include the writings of architectural phenomenologists.¹ What is transmitted in these reprints are the words, but not their visual context. A lot of information is lost through this...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 263-298)
  12. Index
    (pp. 299-311)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 312-312)
  14. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)