Special Subject: Study in Modern Architecture

Open to PhD, SMArchS, and MArch students

Does examination of architectural production reveal characteristics that are unique to architectural thought — that cannot be reduced to the application of other disciplines? Are these architectural contributions consequential? Is there a discipline of architecture, and if so, how has, how can it be characterized? Is there a uniqueness to architecture and how can it be theorized?

If there are to be schools of architecture, there had better be some affirmative, substantial answers to these questions.

But it is not so easy.

We will begin with an examination of some lines of architectural discourse that have been influential in our schools, and beyond, in the last twenty years: from explorations of an autonomy of architecture to a return to concerns with "realism," with materiality and production: Eisenman, Rossi, Hays, Somol, Baird, Latour, Martin.

Despite these shifts in what becomes a diverse discourse, why are there instances of effective architecture that remain outside the discussion? Dieste, Maurice Smith, Murcutt, Th. Herzog

Could there be a rigorous discourse of architecture that is at the same time inclusive? Those mentioned, Siza, Koolhaas. . .

To consider rigor, we will begin from concepts of autonomy, in philosophy and art, and in architecture. Autonomy suggests itself as an effective means for distinguishing the unique characteristics of the discipline of architecture, but what has it yielded? What are its limits? Kant, Boullée, Ledoux, Le Corbusier, Emil Kaufmann, Vidler, Rossi, Eisenman

To begin at the other end, what are compelling examples of architecture that we would reckon must be accommodated in any adequate characterization of the discipline of architecture? Loos, Kahn. . .

What forms could such a characterization of the discipline take? Consideration of my claims for a quasi-autonomy of architecture.

Requirements: Reading and discussion throughout the term; small periodic responsibilities to prepare and provoke discussion; one major presentation carried through to a term paper. Details to be influenced by the size of the seminar.