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    Eisenman vs/and Herzog - LIVE blogging

    Quilian Riano
    Dec 4, '07 5:27 PM EST

    I will now begin live blogging about the Eisenman Herzog Conversation today at the GSD. No photos to go with the narration as I forgot my camera (I will get some later). If you would like, check or refresh this page every once in a while it as I will be updating this post every 15-20 mins.

    5:25 PM - Already in line for 10 minutes, the event starts at 6PM, but GSD students are allowed in via the super secret way at 5:30PM. The line is long and around the building by now. I am plugged in and working on analyzing some details of the Kimmel Center for my Building Tech class.

    5:32 PM - I'm in Piper, still working

    5:48 PM Piper is full, working

    6:06 PM - The show gets started with some words by Toshiko, "putting this together was like herding cats, three BIG cats", apparently Jacques was Aldo Rossi's TA and Eisenman practices what he preaches.

    6:10 PM - Kipnis starts by pointing out the guests differences, Herzog as last of the humanist architects, Eisenman thinks that building should be stripped from other concerns and stick to an autonomous practice
    -Kipnis asks Jacques, what it means to be the last humanist architect. Jacques says that architecture works in many aspects and affect the senses.

    6:14 PM - Eisenman says that since Kipnis did not do a good a job describing their differences he will, Jacques is about phenomenology, Eisenman is conceptual (using Kipnis' Conceptual - Phenomenological - Performative classification system)

    6:17 PM - Architecture should be visual and conceptual, creating sensual space. Herzog compliments Eisenman on Berlin, he says that like China Berlin realizes that Structure, Ornament, and Space are one thing

    6:21 PM Kipnis, talks to Peter saying that in the 70's paper architects forced you to move outside the project and look at process, etc... you would have to know about the project to really understand it. In Berlin, it is similar, you have to move outside the project and see it from the air to understand hte new ground Eisenman has created. This conversation is about the conceptual project that Kipnis says Eiseman is a part of.

    Eisenman agrees and says that this was part of the objective and that Serra works in this way.

    6:25PM - Jacques, disagrees with Kipnis' idea of the conceptual project. Herzog says that the concept and the realization of this project have a very thin line. Serra's work is both intellectual and material and sensual. Jacques says that he has read Eisenman fighting with Serra in magazines, making him (Jacques) furious. This is turning fun, Herzog is getting animated.

    6: 27PM - aml, thanks for posting the live webcast, I can now move on to commentary and not play for play.

    6:30PM - Eisenman says that there is a difference between interior vs. exterior corners as part of the reason he cannot work on facades.
    This is the problem I have always had with Eisenman's ideas, they focus to the point of losing their power. Is it OK to be conceptual without a since of physical reality? I think that at the end you lose interest in a project that doesn't sensually call your attention. Also I think Eisenman is even disingenuous his work in Berlin and Spain are beginning to bring back a since of materiality and physicality that do not require you to buy his book.

    6:35PM - Jacques Herzog - "we are not just interested in porn" in the context of sensuality and the conceptual, best quote so far.

    6:37PM - Why is Eisenman so defensive about his Jewish background informing his architecture (in the context of the Berlin memorial)? His adherence to text and an unbiased process is too much, how can you not bring something personal into a project like that? I mean you shouldn't over do it (Libeskind and 1776) lest you become kitsch, but denying it seems disingenuous.

    6:42PM - Kipnis: you cannot understand Koolhaas without knowing the Calivinist tradition? wow, that sounds interesting...

    6:45PM - Why are we still talking about whether or not Eisenman is a Jewish architect? Seems silly. Good, Kipnis is moving on going back to the real questions:
    -Is it conceited to ask people to go read a book after seeing a window, or can materials and physicality communicate the underlying political argument of the architecture?

    6:50PM - Herzog is talking about Duschamp (conceptual) and Picasso (phenomelogical?). It is ok because art is a tool to understand the world. So debate is over...
    -Jacques cannot remember Leonardo Da Vinci?

    6:55PM - I really do not buy Herzog's argument that it is not important to compare ideas and seeing what works best, specially in the context of architecture. In the built environment a conceptual vs. phenomenological vs. performative project can have major impact to the systems we live with. That is, of course, if anyone is to pay to attention to architects.

    6:57PM - Jacques just brought up an issue that goes back to the issue of an architect showing her or his ethnicity: how languages change the way you think about things. He brings up how in German and English there are only one word for corners but in Spanish there are two (rincon, esquina). This does two things, IMHO, 1- brings into question Eisenman's ideas of architecture as a universal text, and I think that it recognizes that a creator cannot help but put her or his background into the product at the end of the creative process.

    7:00PM - Eisenman has an annual strategy session to set the creative processes for the way things rest of the year.

    7:05PM - I guess Richard Serra was fired because Helmut Kohl himself fired him...

    7:10PM - Eisenman is getting into politics, and how he likes working for conservatives. I think it misses the point of the question on ideological architecture. Jacques says that politically ideological work doesn't interest me. He likes to work from an place of ideas.

    "If you try to educate people, this is the most unsexy thing you can do" - Jacques Herzog

    7:13PM - Peter Eisenman bring up a really good point, how most good film has come out from political ideologies.

    7:15PM - ABOUT INTERNS!!!
    Eisenman - doesnt pay foreign interns. Eisenman is saying that the question was snarky and that he loves the system of unpaid interns. He thinks that it is OK because it happens in other professions.

    Note to Peter: what about those of us that cannot afford one minute of work without pay, is your idea to keep architecture only within a narrow group of people that can afford to work for nothing? To me it is not an issue of being good to suffer while you are young, but that it quite frankly creates two architecture worlds, one that can afford to work for nothing for starchitects (getting the letter of recommendation, etc.. that we know matters for things like getting into college), and the rest of us that just cannot. How can we be progressive thinkers when we allow access to only one group?

    7:26PM - Peter Eisenman - What is the role of architecture:
    -To feed the profession
    -To break apart and learn the processes of the field
    -To theorize (something about PhD's

    Princeton - more interested in Practice, Harvard in Profession, and Yale somewhere in the middle

    7:31PM - Herzog feels misunderstood, he is not an architect of facades, he wants to attract people inside the building. It is easier to capture surfaces and not space.

    7:33PM - Herzog feels like you cannot over-stretch democracy. China was done via open processes community involvement as is a museum he is doing in Miami. He says that for sure he will listen to people in Miami more than China but will not be final.
    Kipnis says something I find interesting, that the open processes have as a a framework that everyone has about the same architectural knowledge and that architects are poll takers and image makers.

    7: 40 Q: What do you guys think is the social role of architecture today (against the heroic modern)?
    A: No one seems to answer it directly

    Eisenman is criticizing Kipnis because the conversation did not knock them off their positions, rather affirming their public personas. Kipnis is saying that he wanted this to happen, and that this conversation is only a start.

    With that I am done guys, back to work.

    Photo by Ji Hyun Yoo


    • aml

      q, thanks for doing this, looking forward to it!

      Dec 4, 07 6:00 pm  · 

      q, if there's a q+a maybe you can pose some questions from the readers here, if any good ones come up?

      Dec 4, 07 6:12 pm  · 

      this is more fun then typing my own posts while clinton talked at greenbuild!

      Dec 4, 07 6:13 pm  · 

      also: live webcast

      Dec 4, 07 6:25 pm  · 

      i have you on one screen and the live webcast on the other. this is fun!

      eisenman: "i can't make a facade, and he makes facades"

      hmmm he does not dismiss materiality but he just can't think that way.

      Dec 4, 07 6:31 pm  · 

      the whole idea of reading a book is that it informs the environment, etc. informs other vistas. nothing more dum that seeing a great building and walking away.

      when you go away from a jacques building. they're important to look at and think about them. it's not just being there.

      yes, you can argue that h&dm's buildings also have 'paper arch' qualities, but i'm not sure eisenman's buildings have phenomenological qualities.

      Dec 4, 07 6:34 pm  · 

      sorry the first two paragraphs there were eisenman's

      Dec 4, 07 6:34 pm  · 

      so peter sees arch as a book and jacques sees it as a tree?

      Dec 4, 07 6:36 pm  · 

      sound does not work on webcast

      Dec 4, 07 6:38 pm  · 

      q, i think you should include some play by play, some people are not getting the sound and some are probably in their offices and can't play the video.

      Dec 4, 07 6:40 pm  · 

      is anyone else having trouble getting the audio feed?

      Dec 4, 07 6:44 pm  · 

      turducken, make sure the little megaphone icon on the left of the image is turned all the way up.

      Dec 4, 07 6:49 pm  · 

      hmm on that logic i wonder if eisenman likes to revisit his own buildings

      Dec 4, 07 6:56 pm  · 

      [jacques just said he doesn't care about revisiting his old buildings, unless he needs to write a text or something. it's a grown up child]

      Dec 4, 07 6:57 pm  · 

      jacques comment on those buildings stimulating growth or anticipating a future city def. shows his rossi roots. are those buildings meant to be urban artifacts [a la rossi in arch of the city]..

      wow, jacques speaks 'spain' spanish! rincon y esquina. hmmm. still, i think you usually use esquina as corner, both inside and out.

      Dec 4, 07 7:01 pm  · 

      ok, this has been fun but i have to go. will read the rest later, hopefully the webcast will also be stored.

      Dec 4, 07 7:02 pm  · 

      yeah, i wasn't able to listen at work. sounds fascinating, and only confirms notion that h&dem are far superior to petey e. thanks for the live blogging, quilian.

      Dec 4, 07 11:57 pm  · 
      cj w.

      this seems like an interesting watch (and read)

      thank you for posting some of the hot items in the dialogue

      just wondering why i cant open the video file? its an SDP file format.. not sure what program could open that...

      Dec 5, 07 9:23 am  · 

      pillow fight of the year!

      Dec 5, 07 9:53 am  · 

      after watching that last night and letting it sink in a bit, I have to wonder, is that about par for the caliber of discussion and conversation that happens at your school Quilian?

      Because it seems like they were pretty self-absorbed and didn't dig too much into each other's ideas. Or do you guys just put up with the ramblings of the big names as one part of the Harvard experience?

      I dunno, maybe its just my romantic ideas of the Ivies, but I expect vigorous, provoking, pertinent, and scathing debate and discussion.

      Dec 5, 07 10:26 am  · 

      a few things hit me while reading this....

      one, why is eisenman's promoter always there moderating his discussions with other's like having your personal lawyer mediating your case against someone just seems like such a conflict of interest.

      two, which is somewhat related to one... how is it that kipnis can state that h&deM are the last of the humanists, when if anything, it appears that they are much more influential these days than ever before and even those whose allegiance lies with eisenman have had to incorporate a conceptual strategy toward materiality and tectonic into their work. if anything, i would suggest that eisenman is the last of the cardboard architects (although this wouldn't be true, as our suburbs can attest to), unwilling to accept architecture's crucial relationship to its own materiality and human occupation as inherent aspect of it's understanding and conception processes.

      three, why is it that the concept of architecture as text is even being discussed still. hasn't it already been proven that the concept of a universal text is dead... it seems that this was laid to rest with the very thoughts that eisenman's work was born from...the very act of deconstructive thought makes this entire argument inherently null. why is such a non-issue still referred to so obsessively by kipnis, except as a means to contextualize eisenman's work in a manner that will allow it to be discussed as architectural on eisenman's own terms.

      four, aren't we all just getting sick of these self-promoting acts of regurgitation that masquerade as discussion. in the end kipnis's words to eisenman at discussion's end belie the fallacy of the act itself, except as the creation of another historical record of legitimacy.

      in the end isn't this our modern crisis? he who controls the creation of the historical records and what it states as legitimate controls the concept of truth in the future.

      Dec 5, 07 11:21 am  · 

      the two quotes you have placed in bold are revealing when read together...

      Jacques Herzog - "we are not just interested in porn"

      "If you try to educate people, this is the most unsexy thing you can do" - Jacques Herzog

      Dec 6, 07 2:07 pm  · 

      Kipnis describes Peter's conceptual projects as containing so many indexical registrations that it is impossible to understand them as any kind of architectural proposition. The resulting frustration can be taken either as the point of the project, or as a point of departure for an attempt to resolve (in a very personal way, IMO) your encounter with the building.

      Eisenman says that there is no point to reading a book if you forget it immediately upon finishing it. The point of engaging any text is to inform your subsequent experience. He also makes it clear that he is trying to get people who visit his buildings to think about their experience - apparently by disrupting their ability to assimilate that experience into their conception of the spatial environment.

      With these statements in mind, I'm now viewing his built works less as his projection of a viable architecture that ought to be widely adopted in its formal and material tendencies, and more as a series of discrete critical essays, intended to provoke a response which could inform future interactions with buildings unlike Eisenman's.

      Thoughts? Clarifications? I'm not a student right now, so I'd love some additional perspective on this.

      Dec 7, 07 10:06 pm  · 

      close, eisenman's comparison of architecture to books is right along the lines of his discourse. he started proposing architecture as text back in his essays of the 70's and 80's. if you haven't read those, you should if you're interested in his work. i find [and i don't think i'm alone in this] that his writing is a lot more intriguing than his architecture, but definitely the later is the consequence of the former.

      one of the best essays on eisenman i think is rosalind krauss's hermeneutic phantom, in an old a+u from the 80's on eisenman, but if you're not a student it will be hard to get a hold of. but you can find eisenman's own essays in both kate nesbitt's and also in michael hays's anthologies.

      Dec 8, 07 3:46 pm  · 

      I'd also recommend some of the essays in Eisenman's book, "Blurred Zones." I've found some of those to be the best, and most clear, that he has written.

      Close - I think you're pretty much dead on with your comments. As an ex-student of Eisenman's your description is, at least, exactly what Eisenman, as a teahcer, hopes that his students take from his seminar and studio.

      Dec 8, 07 9:42 pm  · 
      vado retro

      if architecture is a text then is it to be interpreted the way a text may be interpreted? should it be examined in gender, race, class and economic terms the way one may interpret a jane austen novel? or is it just a love story? like a jane austen novel?

      Dec 9, 07 5:27 am  · 

      it can but my impression is that eisenman is looking for a text that has to be descifered more like a james joyce or late mallarme text. or even better, a mathematical ecuation as text. he's trying to reach zero degree text, so he's escaping [or trying to escape] all those cultural categories you're mentioning.

      [nice try, vado, i see you've been reading my book preferences on facebook. yes, i like austen, and proud of it!]

      of course, this could lead to a discussion similar to the singer-architect thread. you could start translating writers to architects.

      Dec 9, 07 10:41 am  · 
      vado retro

      all british novels are about race, class, gender etc...aestetics are political.

      Dec 9, 07 3:55 pm  · 

      a professor in our theory class in undergrad (circa 1989) tried to convince us that ALL is political. i just didn't want to listen then. now i live it.

      Dec 10, 07 8:28 am  · 

      I'm in agreement with Futureboy's statements.
      Is there still a link to a video of the event?

      Dec 19, 07 1:49 am  · 

      nevermind, just found it

      Dec 19, 07 1:51 am  · 

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