ON EISENMAN'S USE OF HISTORY

Michael Jasper

Abstract


This paper examines the historical work of architect, educator and theorist
Peter Eisenman (b. 1932) through the filter of his writings on Italian
architect Giuseppe Terragni (1904–1943). The paper gives parallel focus to
the range of architectural forms and ideas considered and the kinds of
analytical drawings used in Eisenman’s decades long engagement with
Terragni. Adopting a comparative methodology, the paper examines four
texts published between 1963 and 2003. A number of questions are considered:
Is one manner of historical analysis a more direct method, one
more identical to the object of study? What are the differences among
the texts in terms of the design problems and the spatial effects revealed?
How might such methods of analysing works from architecture’s
recent past inform contemporary design practice? The paper suggests
potential lessons for architectural history as a critical, open-ended project
and proposes that certain approaches such as Eisenman’s to materials
and phenomena from architecture’s past can critically advance the
practice and theory of architecture today.

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