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Modern Architecture

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Siegfried Kracauer and Modern Urban Culture

For Siegfried Kracauer, the urban ornament was not just an aspect of design; it was the medium through which city dwellers interpreted the metropolis itself. In Ornaments of the Metropolis, Henrik Reeh traces variations on the theme of the ornament in Kracauer's writings on urbanism, from his early journalism in Germany between the wars to his "sociobiography" of Jacques Offenbach in Paris. Kracauer (1889-1966), often associated with the Frankfurt School and the intellectual milieu of Walter Benjamin, is best known for his writings on cinema and the philosophy of history.

The Pan Am Building and the reaction to it signaled the end of an era. Begun when the modernist aesthetic and the architectural star system ruled architectural theory and practice, the completed building became a symbol of modernism's fall from grace.

The Yale Architectural Journal

Does fame empower architecture or undermine it? Does the star power or cult status of an architect enhance the art or dilute it? This issue of Perspecta—the oldest and most distinguished student-edited, university-based American architecture journal—examines the inner workings of fame as it relates to architecture though media and culture. It looks at how the commodification of architecture affects the design process—whether fame emphasizes all the wrong aspects of architecture or provides the only way an architect can produce truly ambitious projects.

Architecture, Media, and Corporate Space

The Organizational Complex is a historical and theoretical analysis of corporate architecture in the United States after the Second World War. Its title refers to the aesthetic and technological extension of the military-industrial complex, in which architecture, computers, and corporations formed a network of objects, images, and discourses that realigned social relations and transformed the postwar landscape.

Symbols, Space, and the City

The meaning of a message, says William Mitchell, depends on the context of its reception. "Shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater produces a dramatically different effect from barking the same word to a squad of soldiers with guns," he observes. In Placing Words, Mitchell looks at the ways in which urban spaces and places provide settings for communication and at how they conduct complex flows of information through the twenty-first century city.

Architecture without Architecture

In the 1960s, the architects of Britain's Archigram group and Archigram magazine turned away from conventional architecture to propose cities that move and houses worn like suits of clothes. In drawings inspired by pop art and psychedelia, architecture floated away, tethered by wires, gantries, tubes, and trucks.

Concept vs. Context vs. Content

In Event-Cities 3, Bernard Tschumi explores the complex and productive triangulation of architectural concept, context, and content. There is no architecture without a concept, an overriding idea that gives coherence and identity to a building. But there is also no architecture without context—historical, geographical, cultural—or content (what happens inside). Concept, context, and content may be in unison or purposely discordant.

Visually, many contemporary buildings either reflect their systems of production or recollect earlier styles and motifs. This division between production and representation is in some ways an extension of that between modernity and tradition. In this book, David Leatherbarrow and Mohsen Mostafavi explore ways that design can take advantage of production methods such that architecture is neither independent of nor dominated by technology.

The Future of Affordable Housing
Edited by David J. Brown

Imagine affordable homes that are both well-designed and environmentally friendly, better for the families who live in them and for the planet. The HOME House Project brings such imagining closer to reality. This book chronicles a multi-year national design initiative aimed at addressing issues of design, affordability, and sustainability in housing.

The internationally acclaimed architect Rafael Moneo is known to be a courageous architect. His major works include the Houston Museum of Fine Art, Davis Art Museum at Wellesley College, the Stockholm Museum of Modern Art and Architecture, and the Potzdammer Platz Hotel in Berlin. Now Moneo will be known as a daring critic as well. In this book, he looks at eight of his contemporaries—all architects of international stature—and discusses the theoretical positions, technical innovations, and design contributions of each.

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