eisenman redux


I was wondering if anyone had any idea why representation and concept in architecture has seemingly switched very rapidly from process and system-based explorations to black and white plan oblique, formal/object based explorations? Return to critical practice? 

Any thoughts? 

Nov 7, 14 6:02 pm
boy in a well

pics or it didn't happen.

Nov 7, 14 10:08 pm


Nov 7, 14 10:15 pm
Olaf Design Ninja_

yeah I'm not seeing

Nov 7, 14 10:54 pm

here are some pics....

Nov 8, 14 12:13 pm

Simple. It's because when you have nothing real to present it's best to abstract it to the point of absurdity. This masks the underlying emptiness of the scheme and positions the architect as an artist, especially when the scheme is justified with pseudointellectual bullshit.

The audience is for the most part a willing accomplice, unable to understand either the scheme or the bullshit and afraid to expose their ignorance by admitting it.

Nov 8, 14 12:47 pm

That's an opinion for sure...but you could probably say the same thing about the parametrics, "systems" people, ie that it's just a bunch of bullshit spewed out and justified by the computer.  I'm more interested in what is bringing a resurgence in this stuff rather than if it is, (or ever was) valid. 

Nov 8, 14 1:00 pm
Alien 8

You can say the same thing about parametrics, or the majority of it.

Most of those illustrations are pointless. The first one makes sense being represented as an ortho-pro because the point is to illustrate the different roof pitches, and this is probably the most easily digestible way to show that. There's really nothing to be learned from the others.

Nov 10, 14 11:09 am

I tend to agree with you Alien 8, but again my original question is not the validity of the drawings or the concepts but rather why there is a return to this kind of representation. I typically get invited to reviews at architecture schools and in the last year there has been a dramatic shift - all the students are doing these kind of drawings again. After years of seeing voronoi cells in various configurations I'm wondering what caused the sudden shift and would like to hear others' thoughts. 


Nov 10, 14 11:25 am

Why the sudden resurgence in 80's fashion?


Because people who copy have been told that's what's worth copying.

Nov 10, 14 11:41 am
Alien 8

What year level at these arch schools are doing these types of drawings? In my first year in undergrad there was a heavy emphasis on students learning different drawing techniques and the advantages/disadvantages of different drawings. 

Maybe some students are using ortho-pro to better illustrate aspects of their projects, maybe it's the professors, who likely were in school when this was popular, that are influencing the students' work, or maybe some students just think they look cool and use them as filler to create the illusion of work/thinking. 

Your first example is the only one I've "noticed" recently because it is a useful illustration of the idea, most others have just been noise that get passed over. 

Nov 10, 14 12:55 pm
These axonometric / pure form drawings seem to be a reaction to photoshopped renders and lens flares.

Geometric precision over atmosphere ?
Nov 10, 14 1:22 pm

^ Exactly. On one level it is the failure of any building to live up to it's original PIXAR presentation. On another it's the completion elimination of the viewer's imagination in the viewing of such images. On still another it is simply a matter of style - if you're doing is what everyone else is doing you're not being original (insert long rant on architectural education here).

The real question is we will see a return to the post-modern garbage that followed the first incarnation of isometric presentation? The tool shapes the work.

Nov 10, 14 2:46 pm
These modes of representations do not have a human point of view.

They are analytical and much easier to critique for their geometry than for their experiential qualities.

No idea where this takes us ?
Towards new ideas of form ?
Nov 10, 14 4:48 pm

 Well, exactly, if this what you're seeing, this is back to Eisenman's/Rowe's redux interest in studying form for form sake in isolation - knowledge of form as getting at what they think is the core interior of the disciplinary knowledge of architecture.  But the interest in form without discussing background process perhaps reflects a shift in what I heard Jeffery Kipness say last year, where he said he wasn't interested in discussing process, he was interested in discussing the qualities or formal affects or as he says 'gloss' produced by that final form.  So these drawings are perhaps being used for the purpose of disussing the resultant form and it's spatial affects.  

Speaking as someone who was very much invested in putting much effort into the final design solution/form/concept in school, I'd say that it could not have been produced without the exploratory process; and that process was always very interesting, and i can't see how i could've ignored showing those drawings when talking about the project. 

Of course in practice the opposite is going on, formal discussion relates to its ethical responsiblity to respond to problems, pressures and constraints outside of itself. That is, buildings that consider form as an restorative response to the damage done to the environment, sustainable architecture, or damage in cities, architecture that looks at urban ills and introduce building programmes that help restore cities. Or there is human factors architecture/people architecture, where a buildings form/layout is determined by habitatabilty or responding from the particularties of client/user experience. Or even evidence based design, where the study of how people actually use space and optomize space dictates form.  And this dicotomy was pointed out in a lecture by Rice Dean Sarah Whitting, where she notices in some schools there's an interest in the architectural object in itself as knowledge, and others where architecture has an ethical responsibility to solve practical problems by searching for them and building up this kind knowledge.

Nov 10, 14 6:13 pm
Olaf Design Ninja_

Have to agree with many of Miles points. I think in a weird way because "realism" is really damn easy in the computer now - maybe for educational purposes, to ensure as the instructor the student is thinking about the process, or to at least require evidence of thinking about the process, this black/white iso communication may be required......the danger as Miles suggest is when this "style" becomes the language of architecture.

Nov 10, 14 6:49 pm

Is there a some sort of piggybacking on Sol Lewitt on PE's work one might also ask. There is also a well known article by Rosalind Krauss called Grids.

Nov 10, 14 7:35 pm

I think you all raise some really good points. Seems like an interest or a return to formal investigations and the autonomy of architecture as opposed to the computer or the process dictating the final form. 

I think Miles' question is really interesting though - if we are here again, what has changed? Will we have to cycle through post modernism again? And what did we actually learn from Eisenman the first time around? After 15 years of digital exploration, are we just supposed to accept the formal arguments as truth again? Or is this a new version?

What's funny to me is why we went straight back to the 70s and 80s and not say, the 50s or 60s. It's still so recent. 

And Alien 8, these drawings are across the board - ie not part of some introductory representation classes but undergrad, grad, every year. And the drawings I linked to are not student drawings but the sort of new US young avant garde offices. So it's not the old guard teaching this but the new one. 

Nov 10, 14 10:21 pm
boy in a well

still not convinced.

Nov 11, 14 1:25 am
Olaf Design Ninja_

What is the age of the new guard? Are we talking mid-thirties, mid-forties or mid-fifties? If mid-forties and mid-fifties it makes perfect sense - first they fought the change to computers, lost, adapted or even became enchanted, came to position of influence while the old died off and now for nostalgic reasons perhaps returned to the days of ink on mylar when a good ISO could make the jury swoon? If mid-thirties, its because it takes 5 seconds between Revit, Sketchup, and photoshop to make such an image, which makes older generations believe they are witnessing a great presentation of the design process and reinforcing their belief in abstracted form and space.

Nov 11, 14 7:01 am
Olaf Design Ninja_

@boy in a well head over to this student blog, the sole image is a black and white.

Nov 11, 14 7:09 am

What's funny to me is why we went straight back to the 70s and 80s and not say, the 50s or 60s. It's still so recent. 

The lauded professors teaching now are the same people who were in school learning that shit 35 years ago. Garbage in, garbage out.

Nov 11, 14 9:51 am
Olaf Design Ninja_

Miles confirmed the age - mid-fifties - that's the new guard?

Nov 11, 14 10:11 pm
boy in a well

this thread is trash.

non-event puffed-up by the opportunity to spout idiotic preconceptions.

Nov 12, 14 4:46 am
vado retro

if you sit a monkey down at a computer, it will not produce literature.-peter eisenman.

Nov 12, 14 7:19 am

Peter eisenman is a monkey

Nov 12, 14 7:36 am

A couple of monkeys at cad terminals could produce better work.

Nov 12, 14 8:07 am

Actually, boy in a well, it's not trash, but thanks for trolling.


It's a legitimate question. After about fifteen years of seeing parametrically/digitally produced projects emphasizing process and systems represented with renders, diagrams, and color,  I have this year started seeing a complete return to an obsession with shape and form that has been generated from grids/platonic solids represented by black and white oblique projected drawings.

All I'm asking is if anyone has a theory about why. Why a return to THIS particular period, why NOW. 

Nov 12, 14 10:47 am
Non Sequitur

I've not seen anything resembling this "trend" you speak of.

Nov 12, 14 11:30 am

So far I've seen it mainly at architecture schools, in the latest issue of Log journal, the journals Project and San Rocco, the work of the faculty at SCI Arc and UCLA, and Syracuse, and a new interest in the philosophy of Speculative Realism by people like Michael Speaks.

It hasn't quite made it out of academia yet. 

Nov 12, 14 11:47 am
Alien 8

If you are sitting in juries with students putting out this work and the professors teaching them, why not ask them why they make these drawings?

Nov 12, 14 11:56 am

I definitely have - right now there are many answers, some defensive, some dismissing quite broadly the last fifteen years of work. 

I was curious to hear if others in the profession had an opinion.

The main reasons I have been hearing that it is mainly a reaction to the people that were obsessed with the "truth" of the digital process, ie, you plug something in, and you get something out, and that form is "good" or "true" because the computer said so. They are rejecting that and using architecture's own language and syntax (grids/geometry/representation) to create form. 

Again, I am not questioning the validity of either method with this thread, more what people's own thoughts were of this new trend.  

Nov 12, 14 12:03 pm
Alien 8

The parametric vs formalist/deconstructive argument is a lot like a dispute between different religious peoples, and I'm not interested in adopting either, because I do question the validity of both.

I second Olaf's suggestion, "because it takes 5 seconds between Revit, Sketchup, and photoshop to make such an image..." and add that many just aren't interested in questioning what they see/hear/read, that because something is "popular" is all the reason they need to do it.

Nov 12, 14 12:41 pm
Olaf Design Ninja_

Ha this is great, formalist/deconstructive methods are trending as representation fashion, pretending to have substance?..... Like cover songs of cover songs where the trendy people accuse the original song writer of plagiarism. What is blues music?

Nov 12, 14 1:01 pm

Look for interviews with kersten geers/david van severen.  And for sure SAN ROCCO magazine.  They are reacting against the idea that the diagram can make a building, against excess, against post rationalization.  They seem to be searching for compositional principles and formal archetypes.  Making sure  architectural language has autonomy.  Banal/background architecture coming to the foreground.


Naturally, representational techniques then follow this mindset.

Their philosophy is best summed up as follows: “While every attempt of making architecture seems to drift off in rhetorics of programmatic organization and ironic provocation, form and space as such have become a rare good. In our projects we try to counter this by making direct and precise spatial proposals, formal compositions without rhetoric. This literal architecture aims for a phenomenological experience, perhaps despite of its program.”

Nov 12, 14 8:37 pm

Phenomenological rhetoric.

Nov 12, 14 8:55 pm

Don't lump the work of my alma matter (SCI-ARC) with that bunch. Syracuse has become the home of west coast nobodies who couldn't cut it in the real world.

Nov 12, 14 9:59 pm
vado retro

maybe somebody found a copy of House of Cards at a used bookstore.

Nov 13, 14 10:57 am


Nov 13, 14 11:55 pm
boy in a well

I've bothered to check the links and see no coherent anything. burden's on you, zoolander, far as im concerned, to demonstrate why your small sample size demonstrates anything  about the culture at large, let alone about any sort of 'truth', procedural or digital or whatever, in your sample set. Whose afraid of an axo anyway? Is Choisy giggling in his grave? Or is he drowning in shitty laser projected  bjarke diagrams? Your thread still stinks.

Nov 15, 14 4:55 am

Not sure why you insist on being insulting. 

Nov 15, 14 12:39 pm
boy in a well

Not sure why you insist you have a point.

Nov 17, 14 4:25 am

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