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MI CHAE L HAYS
ARCHI TECTURE’ S
READI NG THE LATE AVANT- GARDE
Writing Architecture series
ARCHI TECTURE’ S
Writing Architecture series
A project ol the Anyone Corporation
ía··| Ve.-s. !|- ío·o.s|.o¸ e¡ !-··.·e·.-s
Bernard Cache. .pp¡
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Ignasi de 8ola- Horales. .pp6
John Bajchman. .pp¸
So.| l|a.-s as V-me·,
John Lejduk. .pp8
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Boger Connah. .pp8
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ARCHI TECTURE’ S
READI NG THE LATE AVANT- GARDE
K . MI CH A EL HAYS
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Lilrary ol Congress Cataloging- in- Pullication Iata
Lays. K. Hichael.
Architecture`s desire . reading the late avant- garde /
K. Hichael Lays.
p. cm.÷(\riting architecture)
Includes lilliographical relerences.
I8BR p¸8- c- .6.- ¡.3c.- p (plk. . alk. paper)
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS vi i
DESI RE 1
REPETI TI ON 51
SPACI NG 135
NOTE ON THE COVER 171
C ONT E NT S
A C K R O\ L E I G H E R 1 8 vii
Iuring the years ol writing toward the topic ol architecture`s
desire. I presented related work at several schools and had lruit-
lul discussions with many colleagues. I am especially gratelul lor
criticisms and suggestions lrom the laculty and students ol the 1I
Iellt and the Ohio 8tate Iniversity. Hy own students at Larvard
have made invalualle contrilutions to my thinking alout this
material. And I have especially lenehted lrom sustained discus-
sions with Pier \ittorio Aureli (who also pointed me to the draw-
ing used on the cover). George Baird. Hichael Bell. Harco de
Hichelis. Jellrey Kipnis. 8anlord Kwinter. Hary Lou Lolsinger.
John HcHorrough. 1oshiko Hori. \inilried Elysse Rewman.
Iiana Bamirez. Anthony \idler. \al \arke. and Jim \illiamson.
I am deeply thanklul to Fredric Jameson lor his comments on an
Portions ol some analyses included here have appeared in 6.·.-s
e¡ 4··.¡..a| ír.a.a·.eo. !|- le·| e¡ l-·-· í.s-omao. :,,·÷:,··
(Rew ¥ork. Bizzoli. .pp¡). Sao.·oa·.-s. !|- las· le·|s e¡ je|o
u-¡1o| (Rew ¥ork. \hitney Huseum and Alrams. .cc.). and
8-·oa·1 !s.|om. (Rew ¥ork. Bizzoli. .cc3). Hy essay "Prolegomena
Linking the Advanced Architecture ol the Present to 1hat ol the
.p¸cs through Ideologies ol Hedia. the Experience ol Cities in
1ransition. and the Ongoing Ellects ol Beihcation.` in l-·s¡-.·a
3. (Camlridge. HI1 Press. .cc.). was proto- to the present
I thank Hatthew Allate and Hargarita Encomienda at the HI1
Press lor their patience and care with the text and design. Cynthia
Iavidson nurtured and directed this project at every stage.
A C KNOWL E DGME NT S
ARCHI TECTURE’ S
I E 8 I B E 1
I write here about architecture’s status as a domain of cultural representa-
tion. I am not primarily concerned with architecture as the art ol
luilding per se. nor do I consider it as a prolession. Bather. I ex-
amine architecture as a way ol negotiating the real. ly which I mean
intervening in the realm ol symlols and signilying processes at
the limit ol the social order itsell÷that is. architecture as a spe-
cihc kind ol socially symlolic production whose primary task is
the construction ol concepts and sulject positions rather than the
making ol things. It is thus an architectural impulse or attitude that
I seek to characterize. and a certain kind ol attention is needed to
detect it. specialized theoretical techniques and methods must le
lrought to lear on this sulject. Revertheless. I hope to suggest too
that the architectural impulse is part ol daily social lile and its wide-
ranging practices. Architecture comprises a set ol operations that
organize lormal representations ol the real (although I will have to
complicate that lormulation). and hence. rather than merely leing
invested with an ideology ly its creators or users. it is ideological
in its own right÷an imaginary "solution` to a real social situation
and contradiction (as Louis Althusser`s take on Jacques Lacan puts
it). that is what is meant ly its "autonomy.`
Inderstood in this
way. architecture`s ellects÷the range ol conceptual and practical
possililities it loth enalles and limits÷as well as the irreducille
allects it presents are a precious index ol the historical and social
situation itsell. I am concerned here with the ellects and allects
as well as the lacts ol architecture.
Il ontology is the theory ol oljects and their relations÷a
structure within which leing itsell may le given some organiza-
tion÷then. I lelieve. art (generally) and architecture (especially)
can and do operate ontologically. Architecture is lundamentally
an inquiry into what is. what might le. and how the latter can
happen. Architecture is one way ol attaining the verl "to le.` But
my prollem is not philosophical. rather. it is historical÷that is. I
want to investigate a moment in history when certain ways ol
practicing architecture still had philosophical aspirations. 1he
expanded decade ol the .p¸cs (which I will take to include roughly
the years letween .p66 and .p83) saw a search lor the most lasic
units ol architecture and their comlinatory logics. Aldo Bossi`s
singular typological lragments. Peter Eisenman`s lrames. planes.
and grids. John Lejduk`s wall and its nomadic adventures. and
Bernard 1schumi`s cinegrammatic segments. which lrame and
trigger the architectural impulse itsell÷all were understood as
lundamental architectural entities and events that could not le
reduced or translated into other modes ol experience or knowl-
edge. 1his sell- consciousness also aimed lor an awareness ol
architecture`s position in society and history itsell (philosophical
thinking always turns historical when pushed to its limits). thus
ideological- representational engagements ol architecture with
the expanding consumer society ol the .p¸cs were proled. and
various strategies ol distortion. resistance. and reappropriation
were devised. 1he very nature ol sulject- olject constructions
and relations and ol the sulject`s relation to its other was opened
to a scrutiny as intense as any philosophical inquiry. And architec-
ture reached a limit condition in which its oljects were no longer
construed as mere elements and assemllages ol luilding. however
complicated or sophisticated. lut rather as a representational
system÷a way ol perceiving and constructing identities and
I E 8 I B E 3
8uch ontological amlitions were recognized even at the time.
they are implicit in the widespread and recurrent analogies le-
tween architecture and the ultimate system ol sell- consciousness
that is language. Indeed. another way ol characterizing the period
in question would le to call it "Architecture in the Age ol Iiscourse.`
a designation that has the advantage ol aligning architecture
with other disciplines that similarly turned to language in their
own respective sell- examinations. As Jacques Ierrida put it.
"1his moment was that in which language invaded the universal
prollematic. that in which. in the alsence ol a center or origin.
everything lecame discourse÷provided we can agree on this
word÷that is to say. when everything lecame a system where
the central signihed. the original or transcendental signihed. is
never alsolutely present outside a system ol dillerences.`
Judgments alout the meaning and value ol the discursive
turn. however. were not all positive. "1he return to language is a
prool ol lailure.` Hanlredo 1aluri declares. and though his posi-
tion is more amlivalent than this assertion would indicate. he
never wavers lrom his argument that. ly the .p¸cs. what remains
ol modernity is only a spectral sense ol our existence. in which
we wrestle with the larely perceptille and unsolid echoes ol an
architectural past that cannot le recovered and a luture that will
not arrive. 1he advanced architecture ol the .p¸cs must therelore
remain a "salvage operation` in which "the elements ol the mod-
ern architectural tradition are all at once reduced to enigmatic
lragments÷to mute signals ol a language whose code has leen
lost÷shoved away haphazardly in the desert ol history.
1aluri`s analysis hnds architecture in a doulle lind. 1o the
extent that architecture can lunction in a capitalist society. it in-
evitally reproduces the structure ol that society in its own
immanent logics and lorms. \hen architecture resists. capitalism
withdraws it lrom service÷takes it oll- line÷so that demonstra-
tions ly architects ol the critical distance ol their practice lrom
degraded lile lecome redundant and trivialized in advance. 1his
transmutation ol the cold. all- encompassing llueprint ol a mode
ol production into the pure lormalization ol aesthetic technique
is architecture`s destiny. its "plan.` And having identihed that.
1aluri asserts the intoleralle lut inescapalle conditions ol possi-
lility lor contemporary architecture. to collapse into the very
system that condemns architecture to pure means- end instrumen-
tality. or to retreat into hypnotic solitude. recognizing that there
is no longer a need lor architecture at all. 1hus "'the disenchanted
avant- garde.` completely alsorled in exploring lrom the comlort
ol its charming !eo1e.·s the prolundities ol the philosophy ol the
unexpected. writes down. over and over again. its own reactions
under the infuence ol drugs prudently administered.`
1he "over- and- over- again` indictment ol the postwar avant-
garde÷the empty. numling repetition ol lorms lelt over lrom
the presumed- authentic historical avant- garde÷lecame some-
thing ol a leltist critical trope alter Peter Burger`s !|-e·, e¡ ·|-
4.ao·- 6a·1- (German. .p¸¡. English. .p8¡). Burger`s derogatory
term o-e- a.ao·- ¸a·1- therelore suggests itsell as an appropriate
appellation lor the work I am interested in here. Certainly the
repetition ol the lormal elements and operations ol Le Corlusier.
de 8tijl. and constructivism is the most immediately apparent
characteristic ol the experiments ol Eisenman. Lejduk. and
1schumi. il not Bossi. whom one might nevertheless think ol as a
neo- Enlightenment- avant- gardiste. Burger`s categorization seems
inescapalle. "1he neo- avant- garde institutionalizes the a.ao·-
¸a·1- as a·· and thus negates genuinely avant- gardiste intentions.
1his is true independently ol the consciousness artists have ol
their activity. a consciousness that may perlectly well le avant-
gardiste. . . . Reo- avant- gardiste art is autonomous art in the
lull sense ol the term. which means that it negates the avant- gardiste
intention ol returning art to the praxis ol lile.`
I E 8 I B E 5
1he o-e- ness ol this work is made all the more compelling in
the specihc medium ol architecture ly the lact that not only 1aluri
lut also the more conservative Colin Bowe came to all lut the same
conclusion earlier and independently ol Burger. According to
Bowe. il the historical avant- garde shared common ideological
roots with Harxism. it also shared a Harxist philosophical amlition
to interluse lorm and word÷variously articulated as expression
and content. system and concept. practice and theory. luilding
and politics. or (in Burger`s terms) art and lile. 1hat the lusion
ultimately lailed may le attriluted to a shilt in the terms in which
the experience ol modernity itsell had to le conceived in postwar
architecture÷a shilt lrom modernity lully developed as the essen-
tial desired goal ol architecture to modernity as architecture`s
limiting condition. In his introduction to í..- 4·.|.·-.·s. Bowe
asserts what seems to le the only possille choice lor the advanced
architecture ol the time. adhere to the lorms. the "¡|,s.¸o-- fesh`
ol the avant- garde. and relegate the "me·a|-- word` to incantation.
For il the latter has leen reduced to "a constellation ol escapist
myths.` the ¡|,s.¸o- still "possess[es] an eloquence and a fexilility
which continues now to le as overwhelming as it was then.` 1he
measure ol architecture lies no longer in the elhcacy with which
it prehgures a new and letter world lut rather in its achievement
within the contingent conditions ol the modern. ol meeting the
demands ol the fesh. as it were. ol elevating lorm as its own
language without relerence to external sentiments. rationales. or
indeed social visions. "1he great merit ol what lollows lies in the
lact that its authors are not enormously sell- deluded as to the
immediate possilility ol any violent or sudden architectural or
social mutation.` 1he plastic and spatial inventions ol culism
and constructivism. ol Giuseppe 1erragni. Adoll Loos. Hies van
der Bohe. and Le Corlusier. remain the standard specihc to the
ideologically indillerent medium ol architecture itsell. 1he archi-
tects ol the postwar avant- garde are "lelligerently second hand.`
8camozzis to modernism`s Palladio. a series ol simulacra. ¥et it
is only through the acceptance ol that standard and the repeti-
tion ol just those simulacra that architects` aspirations can le
1his is the story. then. on which 1aluri and Bowe agree. In a
hrst moment. the revolutionary avant- gardes ol the early twentieth
century surgically prole the modern city itsell÷the sociopsycho-
logical metropolis ol Georg 8immel. Georg Lukacs. and \alter
Benjamin÷in order to identily the patterns ol its essential
characteristics. which can then le converted into artistic lorm.
in 1aluri`s words.
!e os- ·|a· -r¡-·.-o.- as ·|- ¡eoo1a·.eo ¡e· ..soa| .e1-s
ao1 .e1-s e¡ a.·.eo !e··eo-1 ¡·em a|·-a1, -s·a!|.s|-1
.|a·a.·-·.s·..s e¡ ·|- .a¡.·a|.s· m-··e¡e|.s÷·a¡.1.·, e¡
.|ao¸- ao1 e·¸ao.:a·.eo. s.mo|·ao-.·, e¡ .emmoo..a-
·.eos. a..-|-·a·-1 ·|,·|ms e¡ os-. -.|-.·...sm÷·e ·-1o.-
·|- s··o.·o·- e¡ a··.s·.. -r¡-·.-o.- ·e ·|- s·a·os e¡ ¡o·-
e!¡-.· (ao e!..eos m-·a¡|e· ¡e· ·|- e!¡-.·- .emme1.·,·.
·e .o.e|.- ·|- ¡o!|... as a oo.¡-1 o|e|-. .o a 1-.|a·-1|,
.o·-·.|ass ao1 ·|-·-¡e·- ao·.!eo·¸-e.s .1-e|e¸,. so.| a·-
·|- ·as|s ·a|-o eo. as a o|e|-. !, ·|- a.ao·- ¸a·1-s e¡ ·|-
In a second moment. a dimension ol achieved autonomy ol lorm
allows architecture to stand against the very social order with
which it is complicit. yet the same complicity racks architecture
into an agonistic position÷comlative. striving to produce ellects
that are e¡ the system yet against it. But the language ol lorms thus
discovered÷simple geometrical volumes. serialized points and
lines. diagonal vectors. planes in vertical layers and horizontal
stacks. lrames and grids÷takes on an alsolute autonomy with
the result that. in a hnal moment. the architectural neo- avant-
I E 8 I B E 7
garde can peel the language oll lrom the real. repeating the same
already reihed lorms lut translorming them into a sell- enclosed.
totally structured system ol signs. 1he repetition ol the neo- avant-
garde is that "ol someone who is aware that he is committing a
desperate action whose only justihcation lies in itsell. 1he words
ol their vocalulary. gathered lrom the lunar wasteland remain-
ing alter the sudden confagration ol their grand illusions. lie
precariously on that slanting surlace that separates the world ol
reality lrom the solipsism that completely encloses the domain ol
In this view. in the architecture ol the age ol discourse
we witness the "lreeing ol architectural discourse lrom all contact
with the real.`
1he lack ol a social need lor architecture. architecture`s total
loss ol the real. there is plenty ol evidence in the works and writ-
ings ol the architects in question to support 1aluri`s conclusion.
But a lriel excursus will suggest a more dialectical position than
either 1aluri or Bowe allows. Bossi and Eisenman. lor example.
are explicitly and especially sensitive to the ellects ol reihcation.
lut their work is not just a victim ol its ellects. they critically
inscrile these ellects. In Bossi`s typological thinking. the relent-
less lragmentation. atomization. and depletion ol the architectural
elements seem to lollow precisely the process that Lukacs called
reihcation (l-·1.o¸|..|oo¸). And yet typology (very like the realism
recommended ly Lukacs). involves the power to think generally.
to take up the lragments and organize them into groups and to
recognize processes. tendencies. and qualities where reihcation
yields only lileless quantities. \hat is more. lor Lukacs the lorm
ol experience that most concretely represents the lorce ol reih-
cation is crisis÷that point where. as in 1aluri`s analysis. the
mnemonic lunction ol architecture is just alout to lail. where the
memory lanks have lecome so compartmentalized and arid that
they will hold nothing other than the most lleached- out material.
At this stage. the cognitive vocation ol architecture is to refect or
to cause refection on the processes lehind such crisis. crisis is
modulated into critique.
\e can legin to restore the social and historical meaning ol
type making÷and indeed ol the larger project under consider-
ation that typology helps inaugurate÷ly positing it as an alstrac-
tion lrom a specihc historical moment. a crisis. even a moment
ol trauma. For the very conditions on which the typology project
depends÷namely. the continuing tradition ol the European city
as documented in Bossi`s l`a·.|.·-··o·a 1-||a ..··a (.p66)÷had.
ly the time ol this theorization. already disappeared as a con-
temporaneous olject ol experience. giving way to the city ol
inlormation. advertisement. and consumption. By .p¸. Ienise
8cott Brown (just to give one example) had proposed that the
communication across space ol the social values ol groups had
superseded the more conventional sorts ol need lor architecture.
"Las \egas. Los Angeles. Levittown. the swinging singles on the
\estheimer 8trip. goll resorts. loating communities. Co- op City.
the residential lackgrounds to soap operas. 1\ commercials and
mass mag ads. lillloards. and Boute 66 are sources lor a changing
architectural sensilility.` writes 8cott Brown. "In lact. space is
not the most important constituent ol sulurlan lorm. Commu-
nication across space is more important. and it requires a symlolic
and a time element in its descriptive systems.`
\e need not rehearse the ways in which mass media changed
the very nature ol the experience ol pullic space during this time.
except to recall that advertising media joined with the extensive
development ol luildings on the outskirts ol the city and the new
distrilution ol services to sulurlan commercial zones. making
it more dilhcult to control the quality ol urlan space through
traditional tectonic and typological means. Hessage reception
challenged the tactile experience ol oljects. and voice. as it were.
lecame ·-oao· |.-o ol the lull lody. inlormation now structured
space and prepared it lor experience. 8cott Brown. Bolert \enturi.
I E 8 I B E 9
and others seized on the new perceptual conventions adequate
lor comprehension within this new system. 1he perception ol
architectural surlaces legan to overtake the experience ol urlan
space in the traditional sense. Image consumption legan to re-
place olject production. and the sheer heterogeneity ol images
exploded any single. stalle typology ol the city. Pullic meaning
was now to le lound in the signs and perceptual halits lorged
in a pluralist. consumerist. sulurlan culture. Consequently a
split was lelt to have opened up letween the European tectonic-
typological tradition and the everyday world ol the American
popular environment. a split that was lundamental to theoretical
delates ol the .p¸cs.
1he point. however. is that none ol this was missed ly Bossi.
For while Bossi`s typological olsessions seem to le a way ol con-
stantly conhrming the determinate presence ol the traditional
European city÷relracting its historical logic ol lorm through a
neo- Enlightenment lens in contingent. contradictory. and quasi-
surreal ways÷their peculiar mnemonic lunction also makes it
possille to see in them a new leauty in precisely that which is
vanishing. 1he originality ol Bossi`s work may well le its capacity
to convey. alternately with melancholy or unllinking disenchant-
ment. that the traditional European city÷which in some sense
means architecture itsell÷is lorever lost. and that the architec-
tural avant- garde has reached an end. 1aluri insisted as much in
a direct response to what Hassimo 8colari. speaking ol Bossi and
the 1endenza. considered a relounding ol the discipline. "1he
thread ol Ariadne with which Bossi weaves his typological research
does not lead to the 'reestallishment ol the discipline.` lut rather
to its dissolution. therely conhrming .o -r··-m.s the tragic recog-
nition ol Georg 8immel and Gyorgy Lukacs. 'a lorm that preserves
and is open to lile. does not occur.` In his search lor the Being ol
architecture. Bossi discovers that only the 'limit` ol Being there
\hile the work ol Bossi and the 1endenza and that ol 8cott Brown
and \enturi make up two more or less divergent prollematics.
the lact that they are similar even in their dillerences was recog-
nized in the theoretical literature ol the mid to late .p¸cs. Hario
Gandelsonas`s dialectical negation ol the dillerences letween the
"neorationalism` ol Bossi and the "neorealism` ol 8cott Brown
and \enturi with his category ol "neolunctionalism` is only the
hrst example ol a widespread theoretical attempt to resolve the
contradictory aspirations ol an architectural representation ol the
sociocultural moment together with an architectural autonomy in
the lace ol the same.
\hat has not leen noticed is the lact that
Peter Eisenman`s "postlunctionalism.` lormulated in his .p¸6
editorial response to Gandelsonas and developed in the decade
alter in his "cities ol artihcial excavation.` is a simultaneous al-
sorption and displacement ol the same two prollematics (neora-
tionalism and neorealism)÷a doulle negation or neutralization
ol Gandelsonas`s neolunctionalism. But the counterdialectic that
Eisenman twists out ol this scheme is the position that the au-
tonomy project must le extended lecause the heterogeneity ol
the consumerist. mediatic city has now collapsed under its own
weight. producing not dillerence lut sameness. For Eisenman.
architecture does not so much aspire to autonomy. as with Bossi.
as it is ¡e·.-1 into it ly the very system it seeks to represent. 1he
price ol autonomy is a reduction in and a specialization ol lorm.
which lecomes cut oll lrom other social concerns even as. in its
very isolation and aridness. it lecomes perlectly adequate lor.
representative ol. and homologous with the society that sponsors
it. \hat \enturi and 8cott Brown present as the discovery ol hap-
pily possille. practical lutures. Eisenman recognizes as nothing
more than a misprojection ol our own lalelul historical moment
and suljective situation.
1he interpretations ol 1aluri and Bowe encode the premise that
the postwar "disenchanted` avant- garde symlolizes the torsions.
I E 8 I B E 11
contradictions. and closures ol a certain historical and social mo-
ment. 1his view does not sulhciently recognize. however. the more
dialectical lact that this architecture÷in its very oljectivity and
autonomy÷has already internalized that with which the critics
intend to conlront it. that is. architecture has already incorpo-
rated the annulment ol its own necessity (loth its lunctional and
representational vocations) and consequently ·-.e1-1 the olject as
the symlolic realization ol just that situation. 1his architecture is
a refection on the loundations and limits ol architecture itsell. I
shall therelore adopt a dillerent terminology and reler to the ar-
chitecture and the ethos ol this group as the |a·- avant- garde. with
all the connotations this contradictory locution entails. ol intran-
sigence and survival leyond what should have ended. ol a moment
in a larger trajectory leyond which one cannot go. ol technique
accumulated to the point ol lleak rumination. ol productive nega-
tivity. In the late phase. the architectural symlolic legins to close
in on itsell. to regard itsell as a vast accumulation ol signihers
rather than as the never- concluded. positive production ol mean-
ing. 1he late avant- garde`s introjection ol loss and alsence means
not that the architectural olject is empty. lacking. lreed ol contact
with the real÷as 1aluri and Bowe have it÷lut rather that the olject
renders its pathological content directly. it is the very lorm in
which a certain lack assumes existence. the lorm necessary to
imagine a radical lack in the real itsell.
1he term |a·- a.ao·- ¸a·1- has the advantage ol association
with Fredric Jameson`s |a·- me1-·o. ly which he intends an ex-
treme refexivity within the modern itsell rather than a replay ol
modernism÷that is. a condition in which the ideology (under-
stood as a positive and necessary lramework lor practice) ol
modernism has leen theorized and identihed in terms ol artistic
autonomy. "a return to art alout art. and art alout the creation ol
art.` Inlike the lully commercialized postmodernism. the late
architectural avant- garde keeps its namesake`s commitment to
rigorous lormal analysis. making the material ol architecture stand
against consumerism. But unlike the historical avant- garde. it sell-
consciously closes in on its own limits rather than opens outward.
its original site is one ol the trauma ol having arrived too late. Alter
all. when everything has leen accounted lor. how do you account
lor what remains¨ 1he late avant- garde "can never take place in
any hrst time. lut is always second when it hrst happens.`
1he term also recalls 1heodor Adorno`s concept ol "late style` and
Edward 8aid`s elaloration ol it. 8aid sees lateness as an unresolved
contradiction involving "a nonharmonious. nonserene tension.
and alove all. a sort ol delilerately unproductive productiveness
going a¸a.os·.` It is made possille at certain moments in modern
history "when the artist who is lully in command ol his medium
nevertheless alandons communication with the estallished social
order ol which he is a part and achieves a contradictory. alienated
relationship with it. Lis late works constitute a lorm ol exile.`
Against the received view ol 1aluri and Bowe. the examination
ol the late avant- garde undertaken in the lollowing chapters
shows a dillerent relation letween architecture and the real. ol
architecture`s representation ol the real. It will lecome evident
that the received view ol 1aluri and Bowe is not so much incorrect
as it is not correct enough. For the real is not so easily dealt with
as the received view implies÷it is not just ·|-·- lelore some mate-
rial symlolic practice makes it manilest. Architecture`s impera-
tive is to grasp something alsent. to trace or demarcate a condition
that is there only latently. In short. my thesis is that having long
since leen deprived ol its immediate use value. architecture in the
.p¸cs lound itsell challenged as a mode ol cultural representation
ly more commercially lulricated media. Feeling the lorce ol
changed historical conditions and a developed consumer society.
the most advanced architecture ol the .p¸cs retracted the lrame
ol identity letween the architectural olject and the sociomaterial
ground (on this. so lar. all are in accord). 1his retraction is a
I E 8 I B E 13
lorm ol pragmatic negation that lollows the historical avant-
garde`s strategies ol resistance÷a variant demanded ly a new
situation. lut one that produces an impasse. since resistance
seems no longer to lring change (and this is where 1aluri leaves it).
At this point. however. the most advanced architecture lorces a
transduction upward. as it were. to a higher plane ol alstraction÷a
transition lrom the outward- directed negativity ol the historical
avant- garde (which produced an architectural olject that. through
certain demystilying operations. strived to resist or disrupt the
very situation that lrought it into leing) to a second- order nega-
tivity. an architecture refecting on Architecture (whose olject
consequently lecomes internally split. as we will see). 1he archi-
tectural olject as such is disenlranchised (though not necessarily
destroyed). annulled as an immediate thing and reconceived as a
mediating material and process. 1he olject- in- itsell lecomes an
olject- dillerent- lrom- itsell. a signiher directed toward the very
disciplinary codes and conventions that authorize all architectural
oljects÷it lecomes 8ymlolic in Lacan`s sense. 1he olject le-
comes a medium lor a Beal that it does not simply reproduce. lut
necessarily loth reveals and conceals. manilests and represses.
A certain pattern emerges. \hat in the received view appears
as the conditions ol impossilility lor an architectural system÷
a historical and social situation in which there is no need lor
architecture as a cultural representation or. rather. in which
its representational domain has no access to any reality leyond
it÷in lact estallishes the conditions lor new and dillerent
architectural lunctions. For as soon as architecture`s need is
articulated as s,m!e|..÷as soon as the architectural olject is
presented anew. repeated as s,m!e|.:-1÷an inquiry is launched
into architecture`s possililities rather than its actualities. \here
does architecture come lrom. and what authorizes its existence as
architecture÷leyond the particular constitutions already in place¨
1his is the query ol the late avant- garde. 1o which in response they
Aldo Rossi, Dieses ist lange her—
ora questo è perduto, 1975, drawing.
Courtesy Fondazione Aldo Rossi.
oller oe· a·.|.·-.·o·- .·s-|¡ !o· -..1-o.- ·|a· .· -r.s·s. as Adorno
But the pattern ol the response is Lacanian. An em-
pirical need reorganized in a medium ol the 8ymlolic is what
Lacan distinguishes as a demand. which directs its signihers to an
Other (originally the Hother. or language itsell. lut here some-
thing exterior to architecture. something leyond its grasp. which
I characterize in the chapters that lollow) that is experienced as
intervening in (granting. denying. limiting) the satislaction ol
the need. \hen need is reorganized as demand. the immediate.
actual olject ol need is sullated (Lacan uses the Legelian no-
menclature ol 4o¡|-!oo¸) only to reappear in mediated lorm÷as
the avatar ol a dimension transcendent to the immediate olject
(the dimension ol the Hother`s love. in the original instance.
a horizon at the limit ol architecture in the present instance.
architecture`s essential lut alsent structure) and the process-
olject through which that dimension hnds expression.
\e are in the matrix ol desire (we have leen all along). In the
Lacanian system. desire is "the lorce ol cohesion which holds the
elements ol pure singularity together in a coherent set.` where
"the elements ol pure singularity` are understood as nothing less
than the most lasic signilying units ol the unconscious.
is to say that desire is the machine that runs the entire psychic
system. Iesire is the constant production. connection. and re-
connection ol signihers. ol architectural quanta. ol the pulsating
fows ol pure interpretation. this is why Lacan so insistently
identihes desire and metonymy. \hat I suggest here and in the
chapters that lollow is that architectural desire is materialized in
the oljects ol the late avant- garde÷the symlolic desire consti-
tuted ly architecture`s "lig Other.` its laws and language. its
original oneness. desire as the architectural unconscious. desire
as the pursuit ol architecture`s original olject lorever lost (the
1alernacle in the desert. the \itruvian tree house. the primitive
Lence the olsessive search in this work lor architecture`s
lundamental codes and principles. all the time knowing lull well
I E 8 I B E 17
there can le none. that outside the architectural 8ymlolic is the
radical nothingness ol the architectural Beal. Lence too the tum-
lling into the alyss as desire seeks its olject. lor desire desires
.·s-|¡ in its olject. It determines itsell ly negating its olject. then
lecomes the olject alolished through its own sell- appropriation.
Lacan`s lormula is. "Iesire is the desire lor desire. the desire ol
And we can leel the lull signihcance ol the advent
ol desire at this particular moment in architecture`s history ly
recognizing that architectural desire arises as a kind ol alsolute
alterity exactly when the possilility ol architecture`s nonexistence
is glimpsed on the horizon. In other words. the question ol how
architecture exceeds itsell is the other side ol imagining archi-
tecture`s end. 1hus the late avant- garde is the lorm architecture
assumes when it is threatened with its own dissolution.
1he marks ol desire are various. 1hey include the reduced. single
volumes and lragments that populate Bossi`s ghost- lit cityscapes
and Lejduk`s carnivalesque villages. and the even more minimal
el- cules ol Eisenman and cinegrams ol 1schumi÷all lits and
pieces lrom the architectural 8ymlolic understood as aoa|e¸o-s
ol the social text (which ly the .p¸cs had seen its possililities
similarly reduced and minimized). And the ·-¡-·.·.eos ol these
same lorms are desire looking lor its olject and constantly missing
the mark ("this is not ·|a·`). an insatialle quest lest understood.
as we will see. on the model ol an architectural death drive. 1hese
architects address the matter explicitly. Eisenman. whose "end ol
the end` seeks to alolish history to lulhll itsell. Bossi. with his
allegorical drawing ol striving u.-s-s .s· |ao¸- |-· 0·a ¸o-s·e -
¡-·1o·e (this is long gone. architecture survives lecause the time
ol its lulhllment has passed).
Lejduk. with his wall event. "which
. . . might also le considered the moment ol death`.
whose Hanhattan 1ranscripts are an entire screenplay ol death
and desire. 1hrough desire. architecture is rendered eccentric to
itsell. And there are moments when an architectural experience
produces that conception ol eccentricity÷moments ol lecoming.
allects. -o.eoo·-·s that are nonrepresentational modes ol thought.
moments when a sensation just larely precedes its concept and
we glimpse very lasic. primitive architectural ideas. axioms lor
luture architectures. Encounter and event are particularly opera-
tive in the work ol Lejduk and 1schumi (1schumi coined the
term -.-o·- s¡a.- in architecture). lut all ol these architects hnd
ways to dislocate architectural experience. opening it up to the
Jeffrey Kipnis, 3 Masterpieces
of Late- Twentieth- Century
Design Theory, 1990.
I E 8 I B E 19
lact that all perception is partial and ideological. 1heir work has
leen called "critical` in recognition ol this characteristic. ¥et I
lelieve that the concept ol desire more adequately signals their
corollary attempt to escape the ideological closures ol the situation
through the portals ol the lilidinal and the collective. "critical`
implies perhaps a too cerelral asceticism ol specialized elites.
though that too is correct as lar as it goes. Horeover. I am insist-
ing that the work under investigation here does more than extend
the compulsory critical negativity ol the historical avant- garde.
In a theoretical sense. an architecture that. ly internalizing critical
negativity. posits itsell as eccentric to itsell is even more radical.
1he complete alsorption ol structuralist tenets into architec-
ture had ly the .p¸cs made it possille to think architectural lorm
as the ellect ol relations ol dillerence among elements that them-
selves had no sulstantive meaning÷Ferdinand de 8aussure`s
"dillerence without positive terms.` 1he late avant- garde. on the
other hand. is the exact inversion ol that lormulation. it presents
a singular architecture dillerent lrom itsell÷an architecture that.
in order to install itsell as architecture. must already le marked.
traced. transgressed. and divided lrom itsell ly memories ol a
past (Bossi and Lejduk are explicit alout this) and anticipations
ol a luture continuing identity (as Eisenman and 1schumi dil-
lerently insist). I will lollow Ierrida in using the term s¡a..o¸ to
reler to this tearing ol the singularity lrom itsell. this internal-
ized dillering. 1herelore. the metonymy ol architecture`s desire
is. aoa|e¸,. ·-¡-·.·.eo. -o.eoo·-·. s¡a..o¸. Each component will le
developed in the readings ol architecture that lollow.
But lor now. we are hnally in a position to situate the represen-
tational range ol late avant- garde architecture lrom the spatial
Imaginary to the codes and laws ol the 8ymlolic in the larger
nonrepresentational held ol the Beal. And it should le made
clear now that my understanding ol the Beal lollows the readings
ol Lacan ly scholars like Fredric Jameson and 8lavoj Iizek and is
lest summarized ly Jameson`s lamous pronouncement that the
Beal "is simply Listory itsell.`
It is interesting in the present
context to remind ourselves that it was Jameson`s conlrontation
with the negative thought ol 1aluri that virtually lorced the produc-
tion ol Jameson`s correlate to the Beal- as- Listory. which is the
imaginary projection he calls cognitive mapping. 1he imperative
to think totality is one on which 1aluri and Jameson agree (and
dealing with the Beal must always involve a totalizing propensity).
¥et lor Jameson. architecture still has the important social lunc-
tion ol articulating material lorces that would otherwise remain
ungraspalle and linking the local. phenomenological. and sulject-
centered experiences ol space to the developing sulject- producing
structures ol capitalism itsell. And right where 1aluri sees the
lading away ol class ("there can never le an aesthetics. art or
architecture ol class`).
Jameson hnds the residue ol what used
to le called class consciousness÷a mapping ol one`s social
place÷lut ol a paradoxical kind. premised on the representation
ol the "properly unrepresentalle` glolal structure in each ol the
local. experiential moments that are themselves the ellects ol that
structure. Cognitive mapping is lundamentally a development
ol Althusser`s radical rewriting ol ideology as "a representation ol
the imaginary relationship ol individuals to their real conditions
ol existence.` itsell. ol course. a reading ol Lacan`s Imaginary-
8ymlolic- Beal triad. Cognitive mapping is. on one side. a kind
ol collective "mirror stage` in which the allective immediacies ol
identity are in dialectical play with the alienating closures and
misrecognitions that are the lyproducts ol any representation at
all. But at the same time. the map is also a trace- trait ol the social
8ymlolic. a "social symlolic a.·` with potential to lreak out lrom
its ideological prison. Beyond that. at the limit ol the 8ymlolic
order. is the Beal÷"Listory itsell`÷which supports the social
even as it remains oldurately unavailalle and unsymlolizalle.
"Conceived in this sense.` Jameson writes.
I E 8 I B E 21
u.s·e·, .s o|a· |o··s. .· .s o|a· ·-¡os-s 1-s.·- ao1 s-·s
.o-re·a!|- |.m.·s ·e .o1...1oa| as o-|| as .e||-.·..- ¡·ar.s.
o|..| .·s ·os-s` ·o·o .o·e ¸·.s|, ao1 .·eo.. ·-.-·sa|s e¡
·|-.· e.-·· .o·-o·.eo. 8o· ·|.s u.s·e·, .ao !- a¡¡·-|-o1-1
eo|, ·|·eo¸| .·s -¡¡-.·s. ao1 o-.-· 1.·-.·|, as sem- ·-.¡-1
¡e·.-. !|.s .s .o1--1 ·|- o|·.ma·- s-os- .o o|..| u.s·e·,
as ¸·eoo1 ao1 oo··aos.-o1a!|- |e·.:eo o--1s oe ¡a·-
·..o|a· ·|-e·-·..a| ¡os·.¡.a·.eo. o- ma, !- so·- ·|a· .·s
a|.-oa·.o¸ o-.-ss.·.-s o.|| oe· ¡e·¸-· os. |eo-.-· mo.|
o- m.¸|· ¡·-¡-· ·e .¸oe·- ·|-m.`
Jameson`s Listory÷"alsent cause.` "unrepresentalle` and "unsym-
lolizalle.` the "untranscendalle horizon.` "Recessity`÷is always in
place lut only as an undillerentiated and ultimately intractalle
outside (Lacan dehnes the Beal as "that which resists symloliza-
tion alsolutely`). the vanishing point ol the 8ymlolic and Imagi-
nary alike. the end ol the line toward which their plays ol presence
and alsence. signihers and images incline. 1he late architectural
avant- garde is. in the end (at the end). a reckoning with this Beal.
Jameson`s "Listory is what hurts` passage was pullished in .p8..
It is interesting to ponder whether it is analytical or symptomatic ol
its time. In any case. Listory is what hurt architecture at precisely
this same moment. as the practico- inert legan to turn lack on and
against the accumulate practices ol architecture. And the sense one
has when scanning the lractured landscape ol the late avant- garde.
ol a lailure that is alternately inevitalle and delilerate. and a hnality
that is dreaded lut enjoyed÷these are explainalle only as ellects ol
1he architecture ol the late avant- garde
perlorms the impossilility ol architecture`s lull realization. it stages
an architectural project that lor historical reasons must le under-
taken lut ultimately is lrought to lailure ly a dynamic integral to the
project itsell. 8uch are the workings ol architecture`s desire.
A R A L O G¥ 23
Mobilized explicitly against the scientism not only of modernist functionalism
but also of the remaining positivist design methodologies and operations
research of the 1960s, which sought to arrive at optimal architectural organi-
zations mathematically and avoid the slippery problems of architectural repre-
sentation and translation, Meaning in Architecture (1969), edited by Charles
Jencks and George Baird, proposed a preliminary semiotics of architecture
elaborating the basic structuralist insight that buildings are not simply physical
supports but artifacts with meaning—signs dispersed across some larger social
1he repercussions ol this and similar structuralizations ol
architecture as critiques ol lunctionalist and positivist dogmas
would prove enormous. extending over the next decade ol archi-
tecture theory. and the essays in V-ao.o¸ .o 4·.|.·-.·o·- are lut
early examples ol what would quickly lecome a widespread search
lor a system ol architectural meaning.
But il the structuralist projection into architecture was perhaps
inevitalle (structuralism is designed to manage all cultural sys-
tems ol signihcation) and in certain ways already latent in earlier
models ol architectural interpretation (those ol Emil Kaulmann.
John 8ummerson. or Budoll \ittkower. lor example). the most
pertinent and lruitlul level ol homology letween architecture
and language still had to le decided. In other words. what was to
le the scale ol architecture`s structure¨ Is an individual work or
group ol works like a language. or is architecture as a whole struc-
tured like a language¨ 1he hrst view has alhnities with traditional
treatments ol luildings as organic units whose origins and in-
tentions ol lormation must le elucidated. whereas the second
view. which the editors ol V-ao.o¸ .o 4·.|.·-.·o·- adopt and which
would lecome the disciplinary norm. shilts the interpretive vo-
cation considerally. Ro longer is the interpreter`s task to say
o|a· the individual work means (any more than it is the linguist`s
task to render the meanings ol individual sentences). rather. it is
to show |eo the codes and conventions ol architecture enalle
oljects to produce meaning. Questions are raised alout users`
and readers` expectations. alout how a structure ol rules enters
into and directs the design ol a work. alout how any architectural
"utterance` is a shared one. having leen spoken already and
therelore shot through with qualities and values÷questions. in
short. alout architecture`s pullic. ideological lile. Horeover. the
goal or limit condition ol the theoretical project. in this view. is
to analyze not just luildings or projects lut the whole ol the system
ol architectural signihcation.
George Baird`s essay lrom that volume. "la u.m-os.eo 4meo·-os-
in Architecture.` lollows Boland Barthes`s early semiotics to
reveal some lasic issues alout the structure ol architectural
signihcation. First. il architecture as a whole is like a language
(a specihcally encoded grammar. or |ao¸o-). then the individual
work is a particular instantiation or ellect ol that generalized lan-
guage (analogous to a speech act. or ¡a·e|-)÷the architect cannot
simply assign or take away meaning. and that meaning cannot le
According to this semiotics. architecture is a readalle
text. and the protocols and parameters ol its legilility are what
we mean ly ·|-·e·... Bhetoric operates within the structure ol
shared expectations and demands a social. dialogical. even erotic
relationship with the reader÷Baird`s "amorous dimension.` But
rhetoric is not simply a suljective expression. Its procedures are
inseparalle lrom processes ol argument and justihcation with
respect to the social lunction ol making architectural sense.
A R A L O G¥ 25
1he most productive dimension ol Baird`s essay (though he
does not take lull advantage ol it) is his setting ol Claude Perrault`s
concepts ol positive and arlitrary leauty into active equivalence
with the |ao¸o- / ¡a·e|- system. For what is achieved in the complex
lraction÷positive leauty is to arlitrary leauty as |ao¸o- is to
¡a·e|-÷should not le understood as a simple simile ol architec-
ture as language. nor should it le understood in terms ol the more
complex assertion that the individual work ol architecture must
le perceived dillerentially against the network ol the architec-
tural system as a whole. For Perrault`s positive leauty is applied
not just to ao architecture (the classical language. say. or some
other specihc style) lut to a|| ol architecture÷to Architecture.
1he implication ol the complex lraction is that any individual
work ol architecture. in all its contingency. locality. and arli-
trariness. can le dissolved lack into a specihcally architectural
lut universal structured system÷a symlolic order÷ol which it is
a partial instantiation.
1here is one more important corollary ol this machinery.
1hough Baird does not mention it. his semiotic lraction is capalle
ol generating out ol its linaries a third term. which might articu-
late the reciprocal exchanges letween the discursive network ol
architecture as a whole and the individual instances ol that system÷
a kind ol synthetic operator letween the symlolic system and the
specihc architectural signiher. 1he reemergent notion ol archi-
tectural typology attempts to do just that.
1he logic ol types asserts
that the various elements ol architecture are not in themselves
lull ol meaning. they are not items that have sulstantial content.
Bather. they are relational lorms. elements in a structured system
on the same order and ol the same relative scale as phonemes in
language (or what Claude Levi- 8trauss. in his study ol myth.
4·.|.·-.·-m-s. as we might call them. make
up the lasic mechanism ol architectural thought. the distinctive.
recurring comlinations ol such elemental units are types. and
the logic ol their organization is typology. Few terms lrom the
architecture theory ol the late .p6cs and early .p¸cs carry the
same power as that ol typology. and the reason. I suggest. lies in
type`s mediating position in architecture`s imagination and
A passage lrom Adorno`s .p6¡ refection on lunctionalism
and architecture will help explain the work ol imagination.
4·.|.·-.·o·- .o¸o.·-s. |eo .ao a .-··a.o ¡o·¡es- !-.em-
s¡a.-. ·|·eo¸| o|..| ¡e·ms. o|..| ma·-·.a|s` 4|| ¡a.·e·s
·-|a·- ·-..¡·e.a||, ·e eo- aoe·|-·. 4·.|.·-.·eo.. .ma¸.-
oa·.eo .s. a..e·1.o¸ ·e ·|.s .eo.-¡·.eo e¡ .·. ·|- a!.|.·,
·e a··..o|a·- s¡a.- ¡o·¡es-¡o||,. l· ¡-·m.·s ¡o·¡es-s ·e
!-.em- s¡a.-. l· .eos··o.·s ¡e·ms a..e·1.o¸ ·e ¡o·¡es-s.
6eo.-·s-|,. s¡a.- ao1 ·|- s-os- e¡ s¡a.- .ao !-.em- me·-
·|ao .m¡e.-·.s|-1 ¡o·¡es- eo|, o|-o .ma¸.oa·.eo .m-
¡·-¸oa·-s ·|-m o.·| ¡o·¡es-¡o|o-ss. Imagination lreaks
out ol the immanent connections ol purpose. to which
it owes its very existence.
Architectural imagination (í.o!.|1oo¸s|·a¡·. the work ol making
images and schemata) exceeds any empirical demand made on
architecture with a lorm and an allective lorce leyond reason or
end. lorm or lunction. Consider an example. Let us give the name
¡|a.- to the architectural allect ol purpose- lecoming- lorm. that
is. to a hypothetically originary architectural condition. (At its
most primitive level architecture has always leen seen as a mi-
mesis and an analogue ol natural conditions. the accident ol a
tree lranch lalling across two trunks is turned into an entire
system ol support and measure. the continuation ol a ridge line
lecomes a wall marking the territory ol a group. the clearing ol
a held lecomes a city.) Architecture. or the vocation ol architec-
ture`s imagination. then. is lundamentally the making ol a place.
A R A L O G¥ 27
where place is understood to have certain lormal. dimensional
properties÷a space marked oll as distinct÷as well as a specihc
set ol uses or purposes attached to it (hence. lor example. a place
ol gathering. a place ol worship. a commemorative place. a restlul
place. kaom¸-¡o||). \hen conlronted with a particular situation÷
a site. program. materials. and the like÷architecture`s imagina-
tion enlolds all ol its conditions into lormal quanta. intensities.
or architectemes and produces an analogue ol the originary. pur-
poselul. place- making condition ol architecture.
In order lor the purposelul qualities ol this analogue to le put
into relation. in order lor the qualities to achieve expression. an
autonomous system ol organization is required÷one that has
internal consistency as well as external ellect. 1ypology is one
such system. Inderstood in this way. a typological analysis ol
architecture demands a rigorous attention to lorm as well as to
the symlolic identihcation that extends outward lrom structure
into externality and alterity in a prolilerating chain ol metonymic
associations. 1his is where typology legins to trace the contours
ol architecture`s desire. For typology`s ellort to grasp analytically
the preanalytic and indeterminate conditions ol architecture`s
possilility (which is to say. its Other). or. put dillerently. to give
lorm to that which lrings architecture into leing. is analogous to
the desire to assimilate the desire ol the Other to onesell. "Che
vuoi¨` (\hat do you want ol me¨). architecture asks ol its Other.
lolding inward to question its own identity. incorporating its own
distance lrom itsell.
Iesire is the ellort to maintain architecture
as a sulject together with that other world which is its surround
and its origin and lrom which it remains lorever apart.
1ypology designates the paradoxical point at which architecture.
whose inauguration is instrumentally directed. appears as a
spontaneous. almost natural lorce (a residue ol that originary
union ol lorm and purpose). which is not limited to any particular
historical context since its exemplarity is lound across places and
times. 1he assertion ol the centrality ol type is. then. an assertion
ol the reality ol architectural appearance itsell (and not merely
some lunctional cause lehind it)÷ol the .ma¸- ol architecture
(the work ol type is image- ination) as its symlolic identihcation
as architecture. Balael Honeo lorcelully generalized the impor-
tance ol typology and its mediatory potential in a structured held.
"1o understand the question ol type is to understand the nature ol
the architectural olject today. It is a question that cannot le
avoided. 1he architectural olject can no longer le considered as
a single. isolated event lecause it is lounded ly the world that
surrounds it as well as ly its history. It extends lile to other oljects
ly virtue ol its specihc architectural condition. therely estallish-
ing a chain ol related events in which it is possille to hnd common
Honeo and other commentators ol the period rightly place
the work ol Aldo Bossi at the center ol this structuralization ol
architecture. 8tructuralist infuences. especially ol Levi- 8trauss.
saturate Bossi`s .p66 !|- 4·.|.·-.·o·- e¡ ·|- 6.·,. the elemental
purity and lormal logic ol his work÷its power as appearance.
image. even illusion÷are its most immediately apparent qualities.
Bossi himsell wrote that "the points specihed ly Ferdinand de
8aussure lor the development ol linguistics can le translated
into a program lor the development ol urlan science.`
not leen sulhciently understood is how Bossi`s writings. drawings.
and projects depart lrom and translorm lasic structuralist insights.
relracting them through his intellectual lormation in Harx and
Freud. reorganizing them through his readings ol Lukacs and
Adorno. and lolding that mixture through his idiosyncratic poet-
ics. rendering his work considerally more complex than standard
structuralist- semiotic accounts can allord.
For one thing. those accounts assumed a conceptual distinc-
tion letween the alhrmative construction ol meaning on the one
hand and a grimly instrumentalist lunctionalism on the other. a
A R A L O G¥ 29
lunctionalism that. il not altogether meaningless. was uncom-
municative and downright unsocialle. Bossi`s more dialectical
understanding ol architecture`s system. however. allowed the
recognition that new architectural events. experiences. and
meanings are constituted not only in the realhrmation ol preex-
isting cultural codes lut also ly the specihc ways that codes can
le negated÷spontaneously. ly the ongoing ellects ol reihcation.
programmatically. ly changing perlormative and perceptual
conventions and possililities. or ly design. through the ideo-
logical practice ol the architect. Lis recognition ol the multiple
modes ol negativity together with his inquiry into architecture`s
Imaginary and 8ymlolic orders makes Bossi a loundational hgure
lor a theorization ol the late avant- garde.
Equally important is Bossi`s specihc conceptualization ol
architecture`s structure. According to the standard account. ar-
chitectural structure pertains essentially to the organization ol
architectural signihers among themselves. An architectural type.
then. as I have said. is a kind ol mediator imposed letween a
sulstratum ol codes. categories. customs. and conventions and
the actual instance ol design practice. a mediator through whose
operation an architectural lorm comes into leing as a structured
material entity. \hile this account in all its dillerent lorms tends
to presuppose some kind ol social and historical reality leyond
the typological operator. which serves as the type`s most distant
relerent (not to say as a lase lor its superstructure). Bossi makes
the more particular claim that the social and the historical are
always already within the structure itsell. that structure is loth
lorm and matter. that human history produces structure. and
structure yields the social. In !|- 4·.|.·-.·o·- e¡ ·|- 6.·,. he stages
this as a kind ol diachronic and synchronic unihcation.
lo ·|.s !ee| o- |a.- ma1- os- e¡ ·|- |.s·e·..a| m-·|e1
¡·em ·oe 1.¡¡-·-o· ¡e.o·s e¡ ..-o. lo ·|- ¡·s·. ·|- ..·, oas
A R A L O G¥ 31
Aldo Rossi and Gianni Braghieri, Cemetery of
San Cataldo, Modena, 1971, plan. The Museum
of Modern Art, New York. “The analogy with death
is possible only when dealing with the finished
object, with the end of all things.”
s--o as a ma·-·.a| a··.¡a.·. a mao- ma1- e!¡-.· !o.|· e.-·
·.m- ao1 ·-·a.o.o¸ ·|- ··a.-s e¡ ·.m-. . . . 6.·.-s !-.em-
|.s·e·..a| ·-r·s. . . . !|- s-.eo1 ¡e.o· e¡ ..-o s--s |.s·e·,
as ·|- s·o1, e¡ ·|- a.·oa| ¡e·ma·.eo ao1 s··o.·o·- e¡
o·!ao a··.¡a.·s. l· .s .em¡|-m-o·a·, ·e ·|- ¡·s· ao1
1.·-.·|, .eo.-·os oe· eo|, ·|- ·-a| s··o.·o·- e¡ ·|- ..·, !o·
a|se ·|- .1-a ·|a· ·|- ..·, .s a s,o·|-s.s e¡ a s-·.-s e¡
.a|o-s. !|os .· .eo.-·os ·|- .e||-.·..- .ma¸.oa·.eo. . . .
!|- .1-a e¡ |.s·e·, as ·|- s··o.·o·- e¡ o·!ao a··.¡a.·s .s
a¡¡·m-1 !, ·|- .eo·.oo.·.-s ·|a· -r.s· .o ·|- 1--¡-s·
|a,-·s e¡ o·!ao s··o.·o·-. o|-·- .-··a.o ¡oo1am-o·a|
.|a·a.·-·.s·..s ·|a· a·- .emmeo ·e ·|- -o·.·- o·!ao
1,oam.. .ao !- s--o.
1he architecture ol the city is the crucille ol the social Imagi-
nary. a highly dillerentiated condition that operates on dillerent
planes or levels ol reality÷among them is the structured plane ol
its own system ol signihcation (what others call its deep structure.
|ao¸o-. or generative grammar). which gives architecture its au-
tonomy. a plane ol historical. material manilestations in physical
lorm (something like an archive ol all past architectural events).
and a plane activated with a kind ol organizing lorce or potential.
an architecture- galvanic surlace ("\e can utilize the relerence
points ol the existing city. placing them on a vast. illuminated
surlace. and therely let architecture participate. little ly little. in
the creation ol new events`)
that keeps the whole thing in mo-
tion. But there are others too. At dillerent places in !|- 4·.|.·-.·o·-
e¡ ·|- 6.·, Bossi isolates these various planes÷in sections entitled
"Honuments and the 1heory ol Permanences.` "1he Iynamic ol
Irlan Elements.` "Processes ol 1ranslormation.` "Irlan Ecology
and Psychology.` "1he Collective Hemory.` "1he City as Field ol
Application ol \arious Forces`. there are more. 1ypology here
lecomes not just a third term so much as a molile mechanism ol
A R A L O G¥ 33
production and analysis that can move through all ol these levels.
And the ideal sum ol all the planes. or laminates÷that unthink-
alle confation÷is what Bossi calls the "City.` which I capitalize
here to signal its singular. almost mythical. status. For the City is
architecture`s lig Other÷the order ol the architectural- social
8ymlolic itsell operating lehind the typological Imaginary.
A city. ol course. is a sociomaterial olject that we can experience
and study directly. the most concrete ol realities that architecture
deals with. But lor Bossi the City is an invisille and alsent alstrac-
tion. an autonomous and presuppositional structure. a network
ol pure virtuality that nevertheless produces not only lorm lut
also moods. atmospheres. and allections. In his S..-o·.¡. 4o·e!.-
e¸·a¡|,. Bossi relers to the City as the very possilility ol joining
images. "a circle` ol relationships "that is never closed.` "the
unlimited .eo·am.oa·.eo ol things. ol correspondences`. the City
is a desiring production ol correspondences and connections
whose quarry is anamorphosis and shadow.
1he City is the olject
ol architecture`s desire prior to any predication. which neverthe-
less enalles and constrains every possille architectural creation
and can le known through its architectural ellects. \hile the City
cannot le deduced lrom any single example ol architecture. and
every possille analogue ol the City is necessarily partial and olten
contradictory. there is nevertheless no architecture that is not
determined and legitimated ly the City. which is the very struc-
ture ol architecture`s tradition. For Bossi the City is something
very like an architectural unconscious÷the Other as loth em-
lodiment ol the social sulstance and the site ol the unconscious.
In this regard it is interesting to recall Lacan`s lamous quip. "1he
lest image to sum up the unconscious is Baltimore in the early
But with this it is important to add that Bossi. like
Lacan. insists that this unconscious is precisely not suljective.
not something with any individual psychic makeup. Bather. the
architectural unconscious is outside and collective. in the domain
and material ol signihcation itsell.
\e can learn more alout the concept ol the City ly isolating
two related lut dillerent kinds ol time operating in Bossi`s pecu-
liar theory ol typology. two dillerent temporal logics. First is the
analysis ol variance in what might le called the phenomenon ol
typological repetition and persistence. Lerein lies the importance
ol Bossi`s notion ol "permanences.` which tries to account lor
the persistence ol certain spatial patterns in the urlan lalric as
material "signs ol the past` as well as the persistence ol a city`s
lasic plan over vast periods ol time and changes in use. even
when monuments or sectors ol a city are destroyed just to le
reluilt exactly as they were. 1he examples in !|- 4·.|.·-.·o·- e¡
·|- 6.·, are many. lut Bossi dwells particularly on the large and
complex Palazzo della Bagione in Padua and how it has success-
lully accommodated and encouraged dillerent lunctions since
the hlteenth century. Another case is the Boman amphitheater
at Rimes. which was translormed hrst into a lortress and then a
small city ol two thousand. with lour gates and two churches inside
its original walls. Both are examples ol "propelling permanences.`
catalytic elements ol the city whose powerlul lorms remain stalle
lut whose lunctional varialility contrilute to the evolving process
ol urlanization and the production ol new architectural expe-
riences. 1here may also le "pathological permanences`÷the
Alhamlra in Granada is Bossi`s example÷that lunction only as
isolated. unalteralle olstructions in the city. restricting rather
than propelling programmatic dillerentiation.
1he correlate ol typological persistence is another kind ol
chronicity that may le called the anteriority ol typology. a logic ol
prelusion and process. ol coming lelore. \ith this terminology
I mean to capture the sense ol mimetic lolding and relolding ol
preexisting lorms in Bossi`s olten- cited lut exceedingly elliptical
A R A L O G¥ 35
illustration ol the "analogous city.` which descriles the originary
site ol architecture`s symlolization.
!e .||os··a·- ·|.s .eo.-¡· l ¸a.- ·|- -ram¡|- e¡ 6aoa|-··e`s
¡ao·as, ..-o e¡ l-o..-. a capriccio .o o|..| la||a1.e`s
¡·e¡-.·s ¡e· ·|- leo·- 1. k.a|·e. ·|- 8as.|..a e¡ l..-o:a.
ao1 ·|- la|a::e 6|.-·..a·. a·- s-· o-r· ·e -a.| e·|-· ao1
1-s.·.!-1 as .¡ ·|- ¡a.o·-· o-·- ·-o1-·.o¸ ao o·!ao s.-o-
|- |a1 a.·oa||, e!s-·.-1. !|-s- ·|·-- la||a1.ao meoo-
m-o·s. oeo- e¡ o|..| a·- a.·oa||, .o l-o..- (eo- .s a
¡·e¡-.·. ·|- e·|-· ·oe a·- .o l..-o:a·. o-.-··|-|-ss .eos·.-
·o·- ao analogous l-o..- ¡e·m-1 e¡ s¡-..¡. -|-m-o·s as-
se..a·-1 o.·| ·|- |.s·e·, e¡ !e·| a·.|.·-.·o·- ao1 ·|- ..·,.
!|- ¸-e¸·a¡|..a| ··aos¡es.·.eo e¡ ·|- meoom-o·s o.·|.o
·|- ¡a.o·.o¸ .eos·.·o·-s a ..·, ·|a· o- ·-.e¸o.:-. -.-o
·|eo¸| .· .s a ¡|a.- e¡ ¡o·-|, a·.|.·-.·o·a| ·-¡-·-o.-s. !|.s
-ram¡|- -oa!|-1 m- ·e 1-meos··a·- |eo a |e¸..a|- ¡e·ma|
e¡-·a·.eo .eo|1 !- ··aos|a·-1 .o·e a 1-s.¸o m-·|e1 ao1
·|-o .o·e a |,¡e·|-s.s ¡e· a ·|-e·, e¡ a·.|.·-.·o·a| 1-s.¸o
.o o|..| ·|- -|-m-o·s o-·- ¡·--s·a!|.s|-1 ao1 ¡e·ma||,
1-¡o-1. !o· o|-·- ·|- s.¸o.¡.ao.- ·|a· s¡·oo¸ ¡e··| a·
·|- -o1 e¡ ·|- e¡-·a·.eo oas ·|- ao·|-o·... oo¡e·-s--o.
ao1 e·.¸.oa| m-ao.o¸ e¡ ·|- oe·|.
1here is an epistemological claim made in this lormulation
insolar as the analogue is at once a means ol analysis. a method ol
design. and a necessary prior condition lor practice. Indeed. as
a means ol knowing. Bossi`s concept ol analogy has a remarkalle
closeness to Levi- 8trauss`s ¡-os-- sao.a¸-. For Levi- 8trauss`s
complex and multimodal mind also responds to its situation
on many levels simultaneously and "luilds mental structures
which lacilitate an understanding ol the world in as much as
they resemlle it. In this sense savage thought can le dehned as
Aldo Rossi, La scuola di Fagnano Olona.
Altre relazioni, 1979, sketch.
Courtesy Fondazione Aldo Rossi.
A R A L O G¥ 37
Analogical thought sorts the world into
a series ol structured oppositions and then proposes that each
set ol oppositions is analogically related to other sets insolar as
their dillerences resemlle one another. In Bossi`s project lor the
Hodena cemetery (.p¸.). lor example. the dillerence letween
the individual toml and the cemetery as a whole is the same as the
dillerence letween a house and a city. whereas the conic commu-
nal grave and the culic die that is the sanctuary lor the war dead
are similarly analogous to the monuments and permanences ol
a city. homologies letween systems ol dillerence. isomorphic
Iimensions are ol no importance in analogical
thought since the order ol the City is cognitively emledded in
all architectural types ol any scale. Bossi speaks ol Iiocletian`s
Palace at 8plit. Croatia. as an example. "8plit discovered in its
own typological lorm an entire city. and thus the luilding came to
reler analogically to the lorm ol a city. 1his example is evidence
that a single luilding can le designed ly analogy to the city.`
Exactly the same analogy is present in Bossi`s own designs. such
as the elementary school at Fagnano Olona (.p¸.÷.p¸6)÷itsell a
small city with hallway- streets. piazza. pullic rotunda. and mon-
umental steps÷and even his drawings ol "domestic landscapes.`
which organize cigarette packs. tea pots. and lurniture like urlan
In this epistemological claim. the anteriority ol typology is
entirely consistent with the structuralist attempt to work out a
theory ol models constructed on the analogy with language. and
with the presupposition that all thought must le conducted
through and within the limits ol an oljective held in which
every element occupies a preordained place. In a sense. the
anteriority ol types is a lundamentally Kantian conception (as
is much ol structuralism`s underpinning). For il architecture
is structured like conceptual- oljective thought itsell and is an
activity whose content is determinately social and socially use-
lul. it is precisely lecause architectural types mimic conceptual
processes and social content at the level ol lorm. Or. to put it in
an even more Kantian way. the logic ol types is autonomous in
the sense that it provides the lorm lor conceptual thought and
social experience rather than leing determined ly them. 1ypes
"lacilitate an understanding ol the world in as much as they re-
semlle it` (Levi- 8trauss). It is through this kind ol thinking that
we can understand. lor example. Bossi`s lascination with Adoll
Loos`s aphorism. "Il we hnd a mound six leet long and three leet
wide in the lorest. lormed into a pyramid. shaped ly a shovel. we
lecome serious and something in us says. 'someone lies luried
here.` 1hat is architecture.`
1he particular architectural image
ol the mound÷the analogue÷produces the allect ol reverence.
Bossi concludes. "1he mound six leet long and three leet wide is
an extremely intense and pure architecture precisely lecause it is
identihalle in the artilact. It is only in the history ol architecture
that a separation letween the original element and its various
lorms occurred. From this separation. which the ancient world
seemingly resolved lorever. derives the universally acknowl-
edged character ol permanence ol those hrst lorms.`
But il there is an elective alhnity letween the language ol type
and the social world. there is also an opacity. an unlridgealle gap
revealed in type`s analogical work. 1hink ol the dillerent same-
ness ol the cule in Bossi`s Cuneo. Hodena. and 1eatro del Hondo
projects. or the repetitive walls ol Hodena`s ossuaries. the same
type as the wall ol apartments in the Gallaratese. 1hink ol the way
these hgures open to a singularity and a dillerence that cannot le
sulsumed within the rule ol representation. Bossi recounts an
exchange letween Freud and Carl Jung. in which the later explains
that "'logical` thought is what is expressed in words directed to
the outside world in the lorm ol discourse. 'Analogical` thought
is sensed yet unreal. imagined yet silent. it is not a discourse lut
rather a mediation on theses ol the past. an interior monologue.
A R A L O G¥ 39
Logical thought is 'thinking in words.` Analogical thought is ar-
chaic. unexpressed. and practically inexpressille in words.`
type. logical and analogical at the same time. perpetually excludes
what it seeks to possess. which is its own identity as conlerred ly
the City. !|a· .s .·s 1-s.·-. 1his alone explains why Bossi`s work. in
all its dismaying aesthetic impoverishment. compels commenta-
tors to declare that it produces memories. Bossi himsell insists
as much in his elaloration on the alove quotation. "I lelieve I
have lound in this dehnition [ol analogy] a dillerent sense ol his-
tory conceived not simply as lact lut rather as a series ol things.
ol allective oljects to le used ly the memory or in design.`
radical lack at the heart ol desire is scanned as "memory` ly the
mind halituated to language.
Bossi`s concept ol analogy also makes an ontological claim.
architecture can come only lrom architecture. A type is cataphoric
and anaphoric. pointing lackward and lorward at the same time.
But typology`s schematization cannot gather up all that is the City.
the system ol types may claim to le the epistemological inlra-
structure lut not the ontological ground ol architecture. \hat is
anterior to all typology. then. is simply the dialectical lact that
architecture constitutes itsell in relation to what is not architec-
ture. For its autonomy. in other words. architecture requires
something heteronomous. According to Bossi. that something is
the social itsell. Ol course. all ol architecture emerges lrom a
historical and social context. lut Bossi`s lormulation is more
particular. Consider !|- 4·.|.·-.·o·- e¡ ·|- 6.·,`s concluding para-
graph. in which the City`s order is given a liographical- liological
characterization as an apparatus that regulates identihcations
and relations with other suljects and oljects and then remains
as a record. "Perhaps the laws ol the city are exactly like those that
regulate the lile and destiny ol individual men. Every liography
has its own interest. even though it is circumscriled ly lirth and
death. Certainly the architecture ol the city. the human thing par
excellence. is the physical sign ol this liography. leyond the
meanings and leelings with which we recognize it.`
a similar point elsewhere. "Architecture is the most important ol
the arts and sciences. lecause its cycle is natural like the cycle ol
man. lut it is what ·-ma.os ol man.`
1he City contains social relations within its structure. lut
unconsciously. so to speak (the unconscious is the "discourse
ol the Other`). while at the same time positing an ideal regula-
tory set ol relationships that exceeds any origin. And typological
practice takes as its privileged olject just the social. economic.
and psychological lorms that organize urlan lile at all ol its
levels and against which individual architectural proposals take
place and lecome comprehensille. 1he type is thus a doulled
thing. 1he City is a palimpsest ol the marks lelt ly the events ol
human history. a "liographical` diagram. 1he City`s lacts. layers
ol the palimpsest. are cognitive lorms revealed in artilacts. con-
stituting what Bossi calls the "individualita del latto urlano`÷
the singularity ol the urlan event÷ly which he signals not just a
physical thing and its lormal logic lut also any city`s existential
lile. 1hus typology is. hrst. a record. a trace. a presentation ol
those marks ol events that allows them to le most lully experienced
and comprehended. rendering thinkalle situations otherwise
given only in allective terms. And the City can le thought ol as
the medium or matrix in which particular types are suspended
and vehiculated. 8econd. it is the instrument÷the "apparatus.`
Bossi calls it÷that analyzes and operates on this medium and
material ol any city`s history.
So.| ao a·¸om-o· ¡·-so¡¡es-s ·|a· ·|- a·.|.·-.·o·a|
a··.¡a.· .s .eo.-..-1 as a s··o.·o·- ao1 ·|a· ·|.s s··o.·o·-
.s ·-.-a|-1 ao1 .ao !- ·-.e¸o.:-1 .o ·|- a··.¡a.· .·s-|¡. 4s
a .eos·ao·. ·|.s ¡·.o..¡|-. o|..| o- .ao .a|| ·|- ·,¡..a|
-|-m-o·. e· s.m¡|, ·|- ·,¡-. .s ·e !- ¡eoo1 .o a|| a·.|.·-.-
A R A L O G¥ 41
·o·a| a··.¡a.·s. l· .s a|se ·|-o a .o|·o·a| -|-m-o· ao1 as
so.| .ao !- .o.-s·.¸a·-1 .o 1.¡¡-·-o· a·.|.·-.·o·a| a··.¡a.·s.
·,¡e|e¸, !-.em-s .o ·|.s oa, ·|- aoa|,·..a| mem-o· e¡
a·.|.·-.·o·-. ao1 .· !-.em-s ·-a1.|, .1-o·.¡a!|- a· ·|-
|-.-| e¡ o·!ao a··.¡a.·s.
Il we now take the epistemological and ontological claims
together. we can lurther understand typology as nothing less
than a study ol superstructures. understood as involving mental
processes as well as cultural products. And il we ask again alout
the operations ly which such ideational and cultural materials
might le linked up with sociomaterial reality. then an architec-
tural type reveals itsell as an intermediary olject letween thought
and reality. "a structure that is revealed and made knowledgealle
through the lact itsell.`
As immanent analysis ol City. the logic
ol types is dedicated to a lull engagement with reality`s tones.
textures. and rhythms. as much as its lormal elements and syntaxes.
As representational apparatus. an architectural type transmits
the contours and movements ol an otherwise remote and inex-
pressille historical reality and presents them lor analysis. Formal
rigor is maintained and extended into the social and lack again.
or letter. architectural lorm exists as cognitive olject and pro-
cess in a social constellation. But it is important to insist here
that. dillerent lrom sulstantive theories ol meaning or structure.
Bossi`s type requires a certain kind ol circular and negative
thinking. a type does not symlolize. nor does it convey a positive
"meaning.` Bather. a type a¡¡-a·s as s,m!e|.:-1. which is to say
that it appears as an analogy and a presentation ol a determining
8ymlolic order that is itsell unrepresentalle and lorever out
"Only a lorm closed and concluded [.|.osa - .eo.|.osa]. |`e¡-·a
1-¡o.·a. is the concrete measure ol the dimension that surrounds
Bossi claims. Le is most likely responding in the passage to
Imlerto Eco`s 0¡-·a a¡-··a (.p6.) and its metaphorical use in
urlan design. lut he might as well have leen thinking ol Adorno.
who elalorates a similar point in his lamous .p¡¸ essay "On Lyric
Poetry and 8ociety.` in which he admonishes that interpretation
"may not locus directly on the so- called social perspective or the
social interests ol the works or their authors. Instead. it must
discover how the entirety ol a society. conceived as an internally
contradictory unity. is manilested in the work ol art. . . . Rothing
that is not in works ol art or aesthetic theory themselves. not part
ol their own lorm. can legitimate a determination [ío·s.|-.1oo¸]
ol what their sulstance. that which has entered into their poetry.
represents in social terms.`
For Bossi. it seems that what was
an external line ol impingement letween superstructural and
ideational phenomena such as architecture and the material
sulstance ol the lase lecomes in the City an internal distinction.
perhaps like Adorno`s microanalysis. lor the City carries within
itsell loth superstructure and inlrastructure. loth culture and
history. loth process and raw material. In his loundational study
ol Bossi. Honeo put this succinctly in terms ol the autonomy ol
architecture in the city. "1hrough the idea ol autonomy. neces-
sary to the understanding ol the lorm ol the city. architecture
lecomes a category ol reality.`
Our discussion ol the anteriority ol type as a temporal logic
now turns lack on and complicates the corollary phenomenon
ol typological persistence. For the enalling. organizing. archi-
tecturally identilying lorce ol the City is anterior to and deter-
minate ol all architecture÷the necessary condition and prelude
to all practice÷and the oljects and events produced out ol the
City`s conditions ol possilility trace the latent or repressed reality
ol this 8ymlolic order. reoriginating its lorms in new situations
wrested lree lrom the City`s necessity. But the oljects and events.
the types. thus produced then return their lorms (cognitive struc-
tures that mimic the social) to the City`s matrix and persist in
A R A L O G¥ 43
surroundings utterly alien to them÷analogues ol a single. unhn-
ished architectural narrative. a great collective story whose end.
lor Bossi. is as impossille to achieve as its process is necessary
to perlorm. hence his relentless repetition and sulstitution ol
types. "Row it seems to me that everything has already leen seen.
when I design I repeat. and in the olservation ol things there is
also the olservation ol memory. I design my projects with a dis-
crete sense ol allection lor each one lut I reduce them to things
that surround me. country houses. smoke stacks. monuments
and oljects. as il everything arose lrom and was lounded in time.
in this leginnings and endings are conlounded.`
Critics ol Bossi have olten detected in his ceaseless repetitions
ol images a nostalgia lor a lost ideal order or perhaps even a mourn-
ing lor that loss.
\hat is more. the dehning characteristics ol his
projects÷extreme amliguities ol scale. juxtapositions ol incom-
mensuralle oljects seemingly lorced ly the architect into some
silent. secret dialogue. the sense ol separateness and hxity radi-
ated ly the elemental oljects in metaphysical cityscapes. lit ly a
light that seems to consume all sulstance÷all these should le
read as results ol the radical unavailalility ol the City`s 8ymlolic
order to the individual types that desire to posses it. 1he types
persist. torn lrom themselves. lecause ol this lack. desire itsell
persists lecause ol this lack.
1he phenomenon ol persistence must therelore le read as an
amliguous or paradoxical logic÷not just ol enduring alter a
leginning (a physical lorm leing newly occupied and experi-
enced leyond its original uselulness and contextual integrity)
lut also ol persisting alter an end. the survival ol lorm leyond
what should have leen its point ol exhaustion. 1hink ol the li-
lrary rotunda ol the elementary school at Fagnano Olona and
especially ol the llack- and- white photographs that are always its
privileged presentation. 1o lecome a lilrary. the rotunda must
negate its origins as laptistery or theater. But Bossi rejects these
Aldo Rossi, untitled, 1983, sketch.
Courtesy Fondazione Aldo Rossi.
The plans in the sketch are of the
school at Fagnano Olona and the
cemetery at Modena.
A R A L O G¥ 45
handed- down meanings with a lormal reduction and negation so
radical that it appears not simply to translorm the rotunda type
lrom one use to another lut to elevate meaninglessness itsell in
place ol meaning. and alsence and lack in place ol presence.
Honeo comments on the resultant lormal- temporal conlusion ol
the school. "Io not the schoolchildren ol Fagnano Olona look
like the inhalitants ol a world not their own¨ 1he children inhalit
a time that already alludes more to what will lecome their own
past than to the present arrested ly the photograph.`
In Bossi`s highly refexive relation to the crisis ol meaning
announced ly Baird. Jencks. and others. meaning inheres in the
negation ol meaning and the negation ol meaning takes shape as
a lragmentation and evacuation ol lorm. leaving persistent images
that Bossi`s critics have lound haunted. silent. nonidentical. and
disturling. Hany have tried to assuage this atmospheric untime-
liness with relerences to the oneiric realism ol Ie Chirico and
the o-o- Sa.||..||-.·. Others have pointed out that. rather than
merely picking out lormal similarities that existed antecedently.
Bossi`s constructions in lact create anew and sometimes even
conluse the very typological analogies on which they claim to de-
pend. Alan Colquhoun once remarked that Fagnano Olona was
not lased on anything in architecture`s lormal history lut had
rather constituted "a pure type that has not yet entered the history
ol which it is a model.`
And Anthony \idler invites us. somewhat
ominously. to consider another example. Bossi`s 1rieste City
Lall project. in light ol associated implications characteristic ol
its type. which is that ol a late- eighteenth- century prison. "1he
dialectic is clear as a lalle. the society that understands the reler-
ence to prison will still have need ol the reminder. while at the
very point the image hnally loses all meaning. the society will
either have lecome entirely prison. or. perhaps. its opposite.`
In every case. even in these lriel comments. there hovers over
the work a dreadlul sense ol an architecture out ol time÷remain-
ing. lingering. living on alter its legitimacy and rightlulness have
passed. \ilhelm \orringer long ago associated alstraction with
"an immense spiritual dread ol space.`
Bossi`s work is hgural
on the other side ol alstraction and induces a dread that seems
to extend not only to space lut also to time.
Ro one has grasped the radical anachronicity ol Bossi`s work
letter than Peter Eisenman. In an essay entitled "1he Louse ol
the Iead as the City ol 8urvival.` Eisenman weaves a historicist-
psychoanalytic interpretation ol a suite ol drawings ly Bossi that
Eisenman relers to as 6.··a 4oa|e¸a. Le hrst gives a concise
summation ol the analogue`s relation to history÷"In one sense.
the analogue uses history. that is. what is existing. to order what
will le new. At the same time it is ahistorical in that it cuts oll
the lormative stages ol the process. In its denial ol historical
generation it replicates the present condition ol history (without
its history)`÷and then anchors the historicity ol the ahistorical.
il you will. precisely in the historical moment ol the .p¸cs.
kess.`s ·a·.eoa|.sm` .eo¡e.os ·|- ¡es·- :,¸¸ .eo1.·.eo e¡
mao. 4o1 ·e .|a·a.·-·.:- |.s .ma¸-s as o-e- .|ass..a|`
e· ·a·.eoa|.s·` .o ·|- ··a1.·.eoa| s-os- .s ·e .¸oe·- ·|.s
.eo¡oo.·.eo. íe· ·|-.· s¡-..a| ·a·.eoa|.·,. o|..| .eos.s·s
.o ·|- .em!.oa·.eo e¡ |e¸..÷·|- .eos..eos÷o.·| ·|-
aoa|e¸..÷·|- s|a1eo÷.s oe· o-.-ssa·.|, ·e !- ¡eoo1 .o
·|-.· .eos..eos .ma¸-·,. kess.`s .eos..eos .ma¸-s -r.s·
eo|, as a |-, ·e ·|-.· s|a1eo .ma¸-·,. l· .s ·|-.· .o··.o-
s... e¡·-o oo.eos..eos .eo·-o· o|..| .eo¡·eo·s ·|- me·-
¡·e!|-ma·.. ao1 ¡-·|a¡s ¡oo1am-o·a| ·-a|.·, e¡ ·|- -r-
··.os.. .o|·o·a| .eo1.·.eo ·e1a,.
In articulating the constitutive alsence (the shadow. the un-
conscious) ol the City. Eisenman is characteristically mining the
Legelian insight that each artwork is symlol and sole inhalitant
A R A L O G¥ 47
ol a world that is nonetheless implied ly the very achieved sin-
gularity ol the artwork`s existence. Lence the alienation ol work
like Bossi`s. For the artwork is the dislocated. displaced. and
singular example ol a world that cannot otherwise lring itsell
into existence more completely and must remain largely alsent
and incomplete. Bossi maintains the world- constructing desire
ol the modern avant- garde. lut he is condemned ly ·|.s world÷
ly posthistory÷to repeat the same analogically rather than to
lollow modernism`s lrequently twinned impulse ol utopian luture
countergesture. 1he new cannot appear as such in Bossi`s work.
it can appear only as an unrepresentalle negative totality. the
comprehension ol which must take the lorm ol Adorno`s micro-
logical analysis ol architectural lragments and ruins.
Eisenman indeed comes very close also to Adorno`s post-
Lolocaust art thesis÷that alter Auschwitz there can le no lelore
Auschwitz. Our encounter with art is on the ground ol a trauma
and an impasse so extreme that it leaves no space lor meaninglul
resolution. 1he conviction ol Eisenman`s writing. which dehes
paraphrase. warrants quoting at length.
!|- -.-o·s e¡ :,¸¸. ·|- ¡o|| .em¡·-|-os.eo e¡ ·|- m-ao.o¸
e¡ ·|- ue|e.aos· ao1 a·em.. 1-s··o.·.eo. |a.- .|ao¸-1
·|- !as-s eo o|..| |.¡- .ao !- |..-1. íe· mao ¡a.-1 o.·| a
.|e..- !-·o--o .mm.o-o· e· -.-o·oa| mass 1-a·|. |-·e-
.sm. o|-·|-· .o1...1oa| e· .e||-.·..-. .s oo·-oa!|-. eo|,
so·...a| ·-ma.os ¡ess.!|-. !|- ¡·e!|-m .s oeo e¡ .|ees.o¸
!-·o--o ao aoa.|·eo.s·.. .eo·.ooao.- e¡ |e¡- ao1 ao
a..-¡·ao.- e¡ ·|- !a·- .eo1.·.eos e¡ so·...a|. 4o1 o|-o
·|- |-·e .ao !- eo|, a so·...e·. ·|-·- .s oe .|e..-. !|-
.eo1.·.eo e¡ mao o|..| ¡e·m-·|, .eo·a.o-1 ·|.s a|·-·-
oa·..- |as -o1-1. ao1 ·|- .eo·.ooeos oa··a·..-` e¡ ·|-
¡·e¸·-ss e¡ l-s·-·o ....|.:a·.eo |as !--o !·e|-o.
According to Eisenman. the end is already lehind us and archi-
tecture is always already surviving its own death. a testimony to
its own anachronicity. As a survivor. architecture is condemned
to alterlile and altermath. implying loth the post- hnitum as well
as the latal repetition compulsion (which we consider shortly).
Perhaps Eisenman`s concluding paragraph is not too hyperlolic.
Bossi`s "is an architecture which conlronts the reality ol the
present. Lis drawings oller 'nothing new` precisely lecause
anything new which can le ollered is. in the present condition.
nothing. 1hey simply ask. however anxiously. lor the existence
ol a choice letween lile as survival. and death.`
known Adorno`s lamous lormulation ol the logic ol living on alter
the end. he surely would have appropriated it lor architecture.
"Philosophy. which once seemed olsolete. lives on lecause the
moment to realize it was missed.`
Eisenman`s reading ol Bossi`s analogous architecture lrings
us to the lrink where the architectural Imaginary is disrupted ly
an intrusion ol the Beal. For when architecture`s symlolic elh-
ciency is in doult. when the stalility ol its Other is undermined.
the Imaginary itsell starts to collapse. And yet at this lrink we are
also alle to ask the question. \hat then is architecture`s Beal¨
and to answer with one powerlul word. Listory. For the City.
architecture`s symlolic mandate. its necessity. is not some content
lut rather the inexoralle lorm ol human events. the outcome ol
a vast human process. 1he City is the architectural lorm taken ly
historical necessity. And while lorm grants architecture a certain
lreedom. Listory enlorces its reinscription in the lated repetition
ol the same. \hence come the numerous negations that every
critic ol Bossi has stumlled on. ruins. alandonments. destruc-
tions. dissolutions. an entire canon ol negativity. the importance
ol which will le. alove all. not a declaration ol architecture`s end
lut ol the kernel ol Listory installed at its core. 8o it is not the
case that the anteriority ol type is a leginning that has the endur-
A R A L O G¥ 49
ance ol types as its end lut rather that loth have leen shilted
lrom states to processes that operate together as modes ol delay.
Architecture has no end lecause it is a permanent movement
through time÷a persistent dillerential. Architecture uses its dil-
lerence and its autonomy to manage the heteronomous historical
and social lorces that inhere in architecture as a social product
lut in a way that allows the repressed social lorms ol the material
to le known and experienced. Il such a process leads to necessary
lailure. then that is in no way the result ol technical inadequacy.
Bather. it comes lrom the structural impossilility ol succeeding
in the task thus laced÷a truth to the historical demands ol the
material÷a task that must nevertheless le undertaken.
B E P E 1 I 1 I O R 51
Peter Eisenman begins his introduction to the 1982 English translation of Aldo
Rossi’s The Architecture of the City with an excerpt from Jacques Derrida’s
Writing and Difference: “The relief and design of structures appears more
clearly when content, which is the living energy of meaning, is neutralized,
somewhat like the architecture of an uninhabited or deserted city, reduced
to its skeleton by some catastrophe of nature or art. A city no longer
inhalited. not simply lelt lehind. lut haunted ly meaning and
culture. this state ol leing haunted. which keeps the city lrom
returning to nature.`
1he passage lacilitates a shilt ol Bossi`s theory
ol the city toward poststructuralism and psychoanalysis (do we
not hear echoes in the quotation ol 6...|.:a·.eo ao1 l·s u.s.eo·-o·s¨)
and gives Eisenman a way to assimilate Bossi`s aphoristic mention
ol skeletons and lractures to his own rhetoric ol the unhappy
consciousness that is powerlully terminal. at times even apocalyp-
For Eisenman the skeleton is an olject identical to its struc-
ture. a system consistent with itsell rather than corresponding to
some remote relerent. It nevertheless has a determinate history.
indeed. it is "at once a structure and a ruin. a record ol events and
a record ol time.` an olject- lecome- simulacrum- ol- process. It
is sell- refexive. "lor it is also an olject that can le used to study
its own structure.` a structure ol individual elements within a
But it is divided within itsell insolar as
it can determine itsell (each ol its elements) only through the
dillerential relations enalled ly that structure. which are the
structure`s ellects. Eisenman is particularly taken with this osteo-
logical machinery ol relational elements and structuring grid÷
uninhalited. haunted ly its own history. constituted in dillerence
rather than identity. It is lecause in his lrooding over Bossi`s
idea ol City. he has uncovered something ol his own.
Hore than any contemporary architect. Eisenman has sought
a space lor architecture outside the traditional parameters ol the
sensual and the luilt. the phenomenological and the practical. In
projects and writings letween .p66 and .p8¡. he sought nothing
less than architecture`s |·s¡·oo¸÷the primordial fow ol signih-
cation he variously relerred to as architecture`s "deep structure.`
"autonomy.` and "interiority`÷which he lound loth irreducille
and aporetic. Rear the end ol that search Eisenman posed the
question this way.
l|a· .ao !- ·|- me1-| ¡e· a·.|.·-.·o·- o|-o ·|- -ss-o.- e¡
o|a· oas -¡¡-.·..- .o ·|- .|ass..a| me1-|÷·|- ¡·-som-1
·a·.eoa| .a|o- e¡ s··o.·o·-s. ·-¡·-s-o·a·.eos. m-·|e1e|e-
¸.-s e¡ e·.¸.os ao1 -o1s. ao1 1-1o.·..- ¡·e.-ss-s÷|as
!--o s|eoo ·e !- a s.mo|a·.eo` l· .s oe· ¡ess.!|- ·e aoso-·
so.| a ¸o-s·.eo o.·| ao a|·-·oa·..- me1-|. 8o· a s-·.-s
e¡ .|a·a.·-·.s·..s .ao !- ¡·e¡es-1 ·|a· ·,¡.¡, ·|.s a¡e·.a.
·|.s |ess .o eo· .a¡a..·, ·e .eo.-¡·oa|.:- a o-o me1-| ¡e·
a·.|.·-.·o·-. !|-s- .|a·a.·-·.s·..s . . . a·.s- ¡·em ·|a·
o|..| .ao not !-. ·|-, ¡e·m a s··o.·o·- e¡ alsences.
Eisenman is thinking here ol a series ol projects he called
the "cities ol artihcial excavation.` experiments undertaken
lrom .p¸8 to .p88 that enact a kind ol Ierridean archi- writing.
in which the very possilility ol producing architectural mean-
ing through the tracing. gralting. and scaling ol geometric deep
structures ol specihc sites÷\enice. Berlin. Paris. Long Beach÷
B E P E 1 I 1 I O R 53
also decenters and unravels the certainty ol that meaning. re-
quiring the supplementation ol authors and authorities lrom
Le Corlusier to 8hakespeare to the sites` own histories. supple-
mentation. indeed. lackward and lorward to inhnity. although
the past is not recoveralle and the coming ol the luture has leen
"Architecture in the present is seen as a process
ol inventing an artihcial past and a lutureless present. It remem-
lers a no- longer luture.`
1he cities ol artihcial excavation thus
lead inexorally leyond the end ol the line ol architecture. to "the
end ol the end.`
I shall le concerned here with that end and its logic. and with
the architectural drawing as its iteration. I discuss what may
properly le called conceptual architecture÷one that seeks
through an aesthetic withdrawal to replace the luilt olject with a
diagram ol its lormative procedures. investigating. exposing. and
repeating the most lasic disciplinary conventions and tech-
niques ol architectural practice while at the same time liquidating
the last vestiges ol sensual architectural experience. I shall le
concerned. in particular. with the .p¸8 project lor the Cannaregio
district ol \enice. the hrst ol the cities ol artihcial excavation. Hy
intention is to query not only the conceptual workings ol this
architecture lut also its historicity÷how it is a conscious refec-
tion on a particular cultural moment÷and to develop an etiology
ol sell- refexive lormalism that can identily the historical illness
ol which. I will claim. Eisenman`s architecture (along with others
ol the late avant- garde) is an elalorate symptom. 1he illness. not
to make a mystery ol it. is ·-.¡.a·.eo. a kind ol epistemic anomie
that results lrom the systematic lragmentation. quantihcation.
and depletion ol every realm ol suljective experience. lut un-
derstood here also as an ellect in the architectural material itsell.
In Eisenman`s cities ol artihcial excavation. the contours ol that
historical condition remain legille alter all other meanings have
leen hollowed out.
Eisenman alhrmed early on that il ever there were to le a cure.
it would le a resolutely lormal one. Belore .p¸8 his work was
concerned almost exclusively with isolating and elalorating the
architectural elements and operations that would ensure the au-
tonomy and sell- refexivity ol the architectural olject. which
would verily and purily itsell in resistance to all encircling deter-
minants ol architectural lorm. One such determinant is physical
construction. Eisenman`s notion ol "cardloard` architecture un-
loads the physical olject ol all traditional senses ol luilding with
stalle materials. Another is the luilding`s actual use. Eisenman`s
postlunctionalism shilts our engagement with lorm lrom utiliza-
tion to a consideration ol architectural elements as the material
support ol signals or notations lor a conceptual state ol the olject.
A hnal determinant is all the contextual. narrative. or associational
potentials ol luilt lorm. Eisenman`s emphasis on the syntactic
over the semantic dimension ol lorm proposes on lehall ol the
architect and the viewer a "competence.` or knowledge ol the dis-
cipline÷understood as an internalized system ol architectural
principles and underlying rules ol comlination÷and stresses
the deep. conceptual structures lrom which various architectures
can le generated over the sensual. surlace characteristics ol any
Eisenman`s early work thus incorporates two
standard structuralist principles. the lracketing oll ol the physical
and historical context and. with that. the lracketing oll ol the
sulject in lavor ol a notion ol an intersuljective structure ol
architectural signihcation that. like language. predates any indi-
vidual and is much less his or her product than he or she is the
ellect ol it.
\e have leen taught to think ol this as "mere` lormalism. But
in Louse I through Louse \I (.p6p÷.p¸.). Eisenman lollows the
B E P E 1 I 1 I O R 55
modernist strategies ol distancing. delamiliarization. and deploy-
ment ol an alienation ellect (lrom Bertolt Brecht`s l-·¡·-m1oo¸s-
-¡¡-|·) to reorient our apprehension ol architectural lorm away
lrom standard perceptual conventions. In a traditional repre-
sentational architecture whose lorm has its relerent in. say. the
human lody. traditional or indigenous constructions. or some
prelormed classical system ol meaning. our attention as viewers
is drawn not to the a.· ol representing÷not to how the particular
olject has leen conceived and constructed. lrom what kind ol
position and with what end in view÷lut simply to what is already
there. the relerent that stands lelore and external to the archi-
tectural sign. Any traditional or conventional lorm is likely to
have more authority. to engage our assent more readily. than a
lorm that tries to expose the complex matrix ol disciplinary pro-
cedures and institutional apparatuses through which the olject is
actually constructed. Part ol the power ol such a representational
architecture lies in its suppression ol its procedures ol produc-
tion. ol how it got to le what it is. 8trategies ol delamiliarization
and estrangement. ly contrast. attempt to make the processes ol
the olject`s production and the mechanisms ol its representa-
tion part ol its content. 1he olject does not attempt to pass itsell
oll as unquestionalle. lut rather to lay lare the devices ol its own
lormation so that the viewer will le encouraged to refect criti-
cally on the particular. partial ways in which it is constituted. the
particular ways it takes its place.
Eisenman situates his work in a line descending lrom modern-
ist delamiliarization practices. producing in the early houses a
state ol estrangement that corresponds to the alsolute divorce ol
lorm lrom all relerence to materiality. use. and association. In an
explanation ol Louse III. signihcantly entitled "1o Adoll Loos 8
Bertolt Brecht.` Eisenman conhrms his Loosian sense ol kaom¸--
¡o|| and Brechtian understanding ol the l-·¡·-m1oo¸s-¡¡-|·.
Peter Eisenman, House IV transformation
study, multiple axonometrics, 1975.
The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
B E P E 1 I 1 I O R 57
l|.|- ·|- a·.|.·-.·o·a| s,s·-m ma, !- .em¡|-·-. ·|-
-o..·eom-o· |eos-` .s a|mes· a .e.1. 4o1 ¸o.·- oo.o-
·-o·.eoa||,÷|.|- ·|- ao1.-o.- e¡ ·|- ¡|m÷·|- eoo-· |as
!--o a|.-oa·-1 ¡·em |.s -o..·eom-o·. lo ·|.s s-os-. o|-o
·|- eoo-· ¡·s· -o·-·s |.s |eos-` |- .s ao .o··o1-·. |-
mos· !-¸.o ·e ·-¸a.o ¡ess-ss.eo÷·e e..o¡, a ¡e·-.¸o .eo-
·a.o-·. lo ·|- ¡·e.-ss e¡ ·a|.o¸ ¡ess-ss.eo ·|- eoo-· !--
¸.os ·e 1-s··e,. a|!-.· .o a ¡es.·..- s-os-. ·|- .o.·.a| oo.·,
ao1 .em¡|-·-o-ss e¡ ·|- a·.|.·-.·o·a| s··o.·o·-. . . . 8,
a.·.o¸ .o ·-s¡eos- ·e a ¸..-o s··o.·o·-. ·|- eoo-· .s oeo
a|mes· oe·|.o¸ a¸a.os· ·|.s ¡a··-·o. 8, oe·|.o¸ ·e .em-
·e ·-·ms o.·| ·|.s s··o.·o·-. 1-s.¸o .s oe· 1-.e·a·.eo !o·
·a·|-· !-.em-s a ¡·e.-ss e¡ .o¸o.·, .o·e eo-`s eoo |a·-o·
.a¡a..·, ·e oo1-·s·ao1 ao, mao- ma1- s¡a.-.
1his passage emphasizes the identihcation ol an independent
conceptual notational system distanced loth lrom any external
relerent and lrom any determinalle individual viewer. 1he olject
and its elements÷the cule in its particular emllematic status. the
lundamental units ol plane. volume. and lrame and their mutual
interactions÷are loregrounded as an architectural writing. one
that is s.·.¡·.!|- in Barthes`s sense (he also lollows Brecht here) ol
not only revealing and insisting on its own constructedness lut
also inviting. requiring even. a reciprocal productive activity ol
the reader or viewer.
Row. in recognizing that the architectural
olject adequately names that which propels the activity ol view-
ing. reading. and rescripting÷propels. that is. any possille
viewer`s recognition and repetition ol disciplinarily structured
modes ol interpretation÷we have lroached a notion ol perlor-
mativity. understood in the sense that the olject- as- perlormative-
production constitutes that which in the olject- as- representation
always escapes us. 1hus. "working to come to terms with this
structure`÷the reading and rewriting or rearchitecting ol the
B E P E 1 I 1 I O R 59
perlormative production÷means trying to make sense not only
ol the lormal olject lut also ol the perceptual conventions and
disciplinary institutions that it activates and. in activating. ·-¡-a·s.
Conlormity to these conventions and institutions is precipitated.
it must le underscored. ly the architectural olject itsell in its
structured reiteralility. 1hus is the olject moved to a refexivity
ol a second order.
In the Cannaregio project. we witness a similar second- order
shilt that legins the cities ol artihcial excavation and estallishes
the theme that hencelorth characterizes Eisenman`s work. the
movement lrom structure to site to text. or. letter. lrom the
structuralization ol the olject to the textualization ol site.
movement is a consequence ol the alienation ellects mentioned
alove and the perlormativity or scriptalility ol the olject. taking
these to their conclusion in a sell- critique ol the lundamental
techniques and procedures ol the discipline ol architecture that
the early works had attempted to isolate and codily. lut now with
a sense that Listory itsell has radically changed the conditions
ol possilility lor any ellectiveness ol critique. Alter the end ol
the end. architecture`s iteralility loops in on itsell. redoulling
to produce a temporality in which architectural oljects are dis-
located and internally split÷an intrinsic condition ol the late
avant- garde. which Eisenman called architecture`s presentness.
"Hore than any other term. [¡·-s-o·o-ss] comlines loth the idea
ol time in presence. ol the experience ol space in the present.
while at the same time its sulhx - o-ss causes a distance letween
the olject as presence. which is a given in architecture. and the
quality ol that presence as time. which may le something other
than mere presence.`
\hat is lelt lor an architecture that would
trace that "structure ol alsences.` that would "rememler a no-
longer luture.` is then nothing lut a totality ol inhnite delerral.
All ol which will leave us in an uncompromising place indeed.
one in which any positive or sulstantive construal ol the archi-
Peter Eisenman, project for Cannaregio, 1978, plan.
Courtesy of the architect. “Upon close examination
these objects reveal that they contain nothing—they
are solid, lifeless blocks which seem to have been
formerly attached to the context. . . . They leave
a trace, mark the absence of their former presence;
their presence is nothing but an absence.”
B E P E 1 I 1 I O R 61
tect`s own negative method is relused (any ellort to represent a
"letter` past or luture. lor example). lut which at the same time
also reluses to cancel the representational project as such. 1hus
Eisenman understands our most elalorate imaginative ellorts
to conjure alternatives or to propose the next Rew as little more
than projections out ol our own historical predicament.
Cannaregio is the hrst ol Eisenman`s projects in which the site
lecomes a major lactor in the signilying practice. 1he grid ol Le
Corlusier`s unrealized \enice hospital project (.p6¡÷.p6¡). his
last design lelore his death÷itsell an alsent emllem ol the uto-
pian. salutary amlition ol modern architecture and. at the same
time. a rationalization ol the ad hoc urlan structure ol \enice÷is
reduced to a geometrical alstraction and lolded over onto the ir-
regular lalric ol the adjacent site. Lere we have lor the hrst time.
then. not only an incorporation ol the immediate context into
the structure ol the work. lut also an important new operation.
that ol a¡¡·e¡·.a·.eo and the concomitant nullihcation ol the
conhscated olject`s semantic qualities. Le Corlusier`s project is
reduced to a series ol voids. holes in the ground. hollowed out so
utterly that only an imprint ol the material remains. calilrated
and reiterated to lecome a procedure ol inscription and repeti-
tion rather than an identihalle hgure (even a hgure as alstract
and reduced as one ol Bossi`s types).
But the exact status ol Le Corlusier`s hospital conlounds the
reader. lor in his redrawing ol the hospital in the Cannaregio
presentation. Eisenman renders Le Corlusier`s project with pre-
cisely the same sort ol line as his own presumally "real` proposal
lor the site. neither ghosted nor put into quotations pictorially.
there is no graphic distinction letween oljects proposed lut not
yet realized and those proposed lut never to le. Ioes Eisenman`s
project lor Cannaregio then mean to include the "reluilding` ol
Le Corlusier`s never- luilt monument to the modern¨ Or do the
documents and their codes ol representation declare (or con-
B E P E 1 I 1 I O R 63
demn) Eisenman`s project to le ol the same never- to- le- luilt
status. the same lailed utopia¨ In any case. such a graphic con-
vention makes sense only il the project is understood to le a
drawing as so.| and not a drawn representation ol a hypothetical
luilding construction. it is the 1·ao.o¸ ol Le Corlusier`s hospital
in Cannaregio that is the site ol Eisenman`s project. In the al-
sence ol a real place to legin. Eisenman reproduces the missing
original in hallucinated lorm. not as an olject ol architectural
desire lut as a setting lor the emplacement ol a 8ymlolic order
that is also a realm ol alsence and lack.
For Eisenman. Le Corlusier`s drawing seems to grant a provi-
sional stalility to the otherwise endless drilt ol the 8ymlolic. 1he
dead authority returns as drawing and contract÷Rame- ol- the-
Father. the pact among initiates that controls communication.
the operator that links unassuaged desire to rule.
ol drawing as drawing lor Eisenman`s prollematic. and indeed
lor that ol the entire late avant- garde. is not merely the result
ol economic contingencies or an inalility to get projects luilt.
It is rather that drawing is the necessary vehicle ol imagination.
symlolization. and sell- refection in architecture. analogous to
writing in language. drawing is perhaps the necessary medium
ol .·.·..a| architecture. Irawing is a medium ol marks that have
passed lrom the architectural unconscious through the signiher.
thus enalling and controlling signihcation. 1he drawing is indeed
a privileged signiher lecause it alone inaugurates the process ol
Irawing is therelore also involved in architecture`s desire and
hence with the City. Bernard 1schumi once remarked ol Antonio
·|- .o·-os.·, e¡ o·!ao |.¡- |a1 eo.- !--o ·|- o|·.ma·-
e!¡-.· e¡ 1-s.·-. oeo .· |es-s .·s ¡as..oa·.eo. !|- ..·, .s
|-ss .m¡e··ao· ·|ao .·s .ma¸- . . . Sao·`í|.a !·.||.ao·|,
Peter Eisenman, Cannaregio, 1978,
sketch site plan showing disposition
of el- cube structures with grid
derived from Le Corbusier’s hospital
and diagonal axis of symmetry.
Canadian Centre for Architecture.
B E P E 1 I 1 I O R 65
¡e·ma|.:-1 desires. l¡ |- .s oe· ·|- ¡·s· ·e ·-¡|a.- a·.|.-
·-.·o·- !, .·s 1·ao.o¸s. |- .-··a.o|, ·-¡|a.-s ·|- ·-a|.·, e¡
·|- ..·, !, 1·ao.o¸s e¡ ·|- ..·,. 4o1 oe· e¡ ao, ..·,. !o· e¡
·|- ..·, e¡ ·|- ¡o·o·-. ¡·em.s-1 !, o-o ·-.|oe|e¸.-s ao1
se..e- -.eoem.. ·-|a·.eos. ,-· .oa..-ss.!|-. u.s 1·ao.o¸s
. . . 1.s·-¸a·1 ·|- e!¡-.· e¡ 1-s.·- ao1 ·-¡|a.- .· o.·| a
¡eo-·¡o| so!s·.·o·-. 1·ao.o¸.
Irawing operates as metaphor. as a sulstitute lor the desire pro-
duced ly the City itsell. \hat is more. drawing and desire are
closely related even at the level ol the word. as \. J. 1. Hitchell
has so suggestively argued. "'Irawing Iesire` [the title ol Hitchell`s
essay]. then. is meant not just to indicate the depiction ol a scene
or hgure that stands lor desire lut also to indicate the way that
drawing itsell. the dragging or pulling ol the drawing instrument.
is the ¡-·¡e·mao.- e¡ 1-s.·-. Irawing draws us on. Iesire just .s.
quite literally. drawing. or a drawing÷a pulling or attracting
lorce. and the trace ol this lorce in a picture.`
\hen Eisenman decided to legin (again)÷to draw lrom. to draw
eo Le Corlusier`s drawing÷he could not have known Ierrida`s
contemporaneous account ol the irreducilility ol repetition
in "Limited Inc a l c` (.p¸¸).
Incannily. Eisenman enacts what
Ierrida simultaneously articulates. any text can come into leing
only as a certain repetition. in terms ol what it repeats and what
repeats it. But what is repeated (in this case a canonic modern-
ist project) can never le sell- present (and it is important lor
Eisenman that Le Corlusier`s project is literally alsent). either
in itsell or in the text that repeats it. A .em.o¸ a¡·-· (hints ol
Bossi`s "persistence`) here emerges as the only condition under
which anything can .em- ·e !-. Iteralility displaces the logic ol
sell- presence ly a graphics ol delerral and dillerentiation that
Ierrida lamously called "spacing.` or 1.¡¡-·ao.-. \hat is more.
the superposition ol Le Corlusier`s grid onto the new site is a
quite vivid example ol the Ierridean concepts ol supplement and
gralt. Bead as supplement. Eisenman`s attachment makes ap-
parent the "originary lack` at the core ol the modernist project.
As gralt. the setting ol the two Cannaregio projects side ly side
generates resonances. distortions. and phase shilts loth lormal
and historical that are themselves explorations ol iteralility and
dissemination. 1he Cannaregio project declares that one cannot
simply lring architecture into leing. one can only trace the pos-
silility ol its leing repeated.
But there are logics other than Ierridean that I want to explore
in the ellort to dehne the territories ol deprivation and loss
within this held ol geometrical. indexical lorms. \hat hgures
can le adduced to capture the movement lrom the decontextual-
ized structuring principles ol the early houses to the site- specihc
appropriations and repetitions in \enice¨ First. it can le noted
that this appropriation and consequent lormal and semantic
depletion ol Le Corlusier`s project lollows in its general logic ol
translormation what \alter Benjamin. in his study ol !·ao-·s¡.-|.
identihed as the hgure ol allegory. Allegory appears in periods ol
crisis. when. through metaphysical or historical causes. some
unspeakalle loss is imposed on what had leen presumed to le
permanent and unchanging. Consequently. myths are demytholo-
gized and nature is historicized. "Allegory is in the realm ol thought
what ruins are in the realm ol things.` Benjamin wrote. insisting
that the structure ol allegory as an artistic procedure is imposed
upon the artist ly external physical and social conditions as a
cognitive imperative. not chosen ly the artist as a mere aesthetic
For Benjamin. the ruins ol modernity÷lrom luildings llasted
apart ly war to the detritus ol commodity culture÷lorce the rec-
ognition not ol culture`s permanence lut ol its temporality and
transience. just as the decay and disintegration ol nature lorced
laroque poets to conlront in their own time the inevitalility ol
B E P E 1 I 1 I O R 67
catastrophe and death. Like his laroque counterpart. the modern
allegorist (the dadaist photomonteur. lor example) ceaselessly
piles up lileless. lragmented. arlitrarily exchangealle images
"in the unremitting expectation ol a miracle.` as il the sheer clutter
ol signs could compensate lor the regressive conditions ol recep-
tion imposed ly the depletion ol solidly meaninglul lorms.
the laroque intention "ultimately does not remain laithlul to the
spectacle ol the skeleton [recall Ierrida`s metaphor]. lut laith-
lessly leaps over to the Besurrection.`
\hereas the laroque
allegorist. in his melancholic contemplation. attempted to leave
lehind the lragmented. transitory realm ol lailed nature ly mak-
ing the very procedure ol oljective devaluation in this world the
sign ol its opposite. that is. ol reluge in the eternally redeemed
world ol the spirit. the modern allegorist conlronts a desultory
"new nature` whose source ol lragmentation is the modern process
ol production and consumption. "1he devaluation ol the world ol
oljects within allegory is outdone within the world ol oljects
itsell ly the commodity.`
But characteristically the allegorist
appropriates these oljects and devalues them a s-.eo1 ·.m-.
repeating the process ol reihcation wherely the olject is split
oll lrom its use value to lecome a mere signiher ol monetary
exchange÷now in order to dialectically reappropriate the
hollowed- out lragments and imlue them with new signihcation.
"1he allegorical mind arlitrarily selects lrom the vast and disor-
dered material that its knowledge has to oller. It tries to match one
piece with another to hgure out whether they can le comlined.
1his meaning with that image. or that image with this meaning.
1he result is never predictalle since there is no organic mediation
letween the two.`
1hus the sequence ol appropriation. devalua-
tion. rejuxtaposition. and redistrilution ol depleted signihers
lolds these signihers. allegorically. into new diagrams and redeems
them through the very logic ly which they were hrst devalued.
Allegory appears. then. as a displacement ol or compensation
lor a disappearing and irretrievalle past. a past loreclosed ly the
historical and social present.
Like Benjamin`s destructive character. Eisenman explicitly
and emphatically renounces any attempts at consolation. "Ipon
close examination these oljects reveal that they contain nothing÷
they are solid. lileless llocks which seem to have leen lormerly
attached to the context. On the ground is the trace ol their move-
ment. their detachment lrom lile. 1hey leave a trace. mark the
alsence ol their lormer presence. their presence is nothing lut an
For Eisenman. as Benjamin wrote ol Baudelaire. "the
century surrounding him that otherwise seems to le fourishing
and manilold. assumes the terrille appearance ol a desert.`
\here other architects see in their postmodernism a return to
plenitude. in Cannaregio the appropriated. lragmented. and doully
depleted signihers are nothing il not emllematized iterations ol
loss in the Benjaminian sense. Indeed. according to Eisenman
himsell. the series ol ghostly voids or holes in the ground that
articulate the palpally alsent Corlusian origin ol the project`s
grid "emlody the emptiness ol rationality.` "the emptiness ol the
luture.` and may le understood as "potential sites lor luture houses
or potential sites lor luture graves.` Row legille only in a highly
amliguous way. since they have leen decoded and recoded as
something else entirely. these rewritings ol modernist amlitions
are allegorical diagrams with no content as such÷an axiomatic ol
It also seems correct to see in this project. involved as it is
with the appropriation and semantic nullihcation ol signs. a
delilerate and thematic conlrontation with the ellects ol com-
modihcation and commercialization ol architecture. that is. with
the inevitalle process in modernity wherely any architectural
element loses its use value to lecome a unit ol visual exchange.
Alter all. it is the dehnitive characteristic ol the allegorical
olject that. once hollowed out. it can le rehlled with altogether
B E P E 1 I 1 I O R 69
dillerent content. And indeed ly .p¸8 architectural culture was
deluged with various attempts to lallast the lree- foating signs
ol visual exchange ly hlling them with a dissimulating aura ol
humanist lunctionality. cultural continuity. and individual lodily
experience. as il such conceptions would restore the symlolic
authenticity ol thoroughly inauthentic appropriated images and
ease the passage ol the visual commodity into the private domain
ol the architectural consumer.
In this sense. the city that Cannaregio`s grid traces. or "repre-
sents` (though that is no longer quite the right word). is the same
city that Ienise 8cott Brown and Bolert \enturi sought to emu-
late÷the city ol consumerism. mass media. and multiple pullics.
But now. according to Eisenman. that city has advanced leyond a
threshold ol meaninglulness. heterogeneity now lecomes utter
sameness. and communication is hencelorth impossille. For
Eisenman the logic ol the simulacrum÷which ol course involves
the incorporation and institutionalization ol multiplicity in con-
sumer capitalism along with its cognate desires as manilest in
8cott Brown and \enturi`s postmodernism÷in lact precludes
representation in any direct way and makes it anachronistic.
8peaking ol the representational vocation ol \enturi`s decorated
shed. Eisenman writes. "A sign legins to replicate or. in Jean
Baudrillard`s term. 'simulate.` once the reality it represents is
dead. \hen there is no longer a distinction letween representa-
tion and reality. when reality is only simulation. then represen-
tation loses its a priori source ol signihcance. and it. too. lecomes
\hat is more. it is this spinning sameness ol the
simulation that accompanies the particular historical (or posthis-
torical) impossilility ol imagining a luture. Le continues. "1he
modern crisis ol closure marked the end ol the process ol moving
toward the end. 8uch crises (or ruptures) in our perception ol the
continuity ol history arise not so much out ol a change in our idea
ol origins or ends than out ol the lailure ol the present (and its
oljects) to sustain our expectations alout the luture.`
As a result
ol this loss ol relerent and loss ol luture. the surlace semiotics ol
8cott Brown and \enturi are. lor Eisenman. lits and pieces ol
dillerence that make no dillerence. lurther evidence ol the per-
petual reversion ol dillerence to the same.
All that is lelt. then. is to jettison their populist lallast so that
nothing lut the planimetric surlace itsell remains. hovering in
midair seared hard and lrittle. or pressed into the earth as the
countervailing grids ol an archaeological laminate. which. along
with the operations like gralting and scaling that modulate it. is
luried in sell- relerence. In the name ol autonomy and negation.
Eisenman seeks to construct a totality that is exquisitely systematic
and utterly closed and lrom that totality to produce dillerence.
But the very isolation is itsell historically specihc and historically
produced (Eisenman lormulates it as a necessary transitional
negation ol humanism and anthropomorphism) and as such is
still mediated through a larger cause. the City. il not Listory itsell.
1he cities ol artihcial excavation. not quite representations. are
a lorm ol nonrepresentational mimesis. In their tenacious pursuit
ol an architectural system is lound a palpalle sense ol leing
locked into the larger structure ol society and history. perhaps
even more so than through 8cott Brown and \enturi`s direct rel-
erences to the social moment. Indeed Eisenman`s pursuit ol such
an architectural system is in some ways indistinguishalle lrom
the requirements ol the system itsell. the relentless. sullocating
sameness. the geological closure. the "end ol the leginning. the
end ol the end` that must now le recorded. Like a neutron star
whose immense gravity pulls in and distorts matter lrom sur-
rounding stars. Eisenman`s prollematic sucks the contradictory
system ol autonomy and representation away lrom Bossi. com-
presses it while amplilying the heterogeneity- turned- sameness
ol 8cott Brown and \enturi. and then generalizes the historical
condition ol reihcation. producing process- oljects that are traits
B E P E 1 I 1 I O R 71
and traces ol a transitional moment in the great overarching plan
that is the spatial imagination. 1he various gridded laminates ol
Cannaregio might le thought ol as an architectural version ol the
\- rays emitted lrom that neutron star. wellike swirls and lolds
ol space whose acoustical approximation would le a dull. slowly
pulsating hum and that are only understandalle as marks ol the
lorces ol reihcation itsell.
"In the conscious act ol lorgetting. one cannot lut rememler`.
in what could le one ol the most concise dehnitions ol allegory.
Eisenman introduces his .p83 project lor the Koch- / Friedrich-
strasse Block ¡ ol Berlin (where Friedrichstrasse intersects the
Berlin \all) as the site ol anti- memory.
4o·.- m-me·, .s 1.¡¡-·-o· ¡·em s-o·.m-o·a| e· oes·a|¸..
m-me·, s.o.- .· o-.·|-· 1-mao1s oe· s--|s a ¡as· (oe· ¡e·
·|a· ma··-· a ¡o·o·-·. 8o· .· .s oe· m-·- ¡e·¸-··.o¸ -.·|-·.
!-.aos- .· os-s ·|- a.· e¡ ¡e·¸-··.o¸. ·|- ·-1o.·.eo e¡ ·|-
¡e·m-· ¡a··-·o. ·e a··..- a· .·s eoo s··o.·o·- e· e·1-·. . . .
4o·.- m-me·, 1e-s oe· s--| e· ¡es.· ¡·e¸·-ss. ma|-s oe
.|a.ms ·e a me·- ¡-·¡-.· ¡o·o·- e· a o-o e·1-·. ¡·-1..·s
oe·|.o¸. l· |as oe·|.o¸ ·e 1e o.·| |.s·e·..a| a||os.eo e·
o.·| ·|- .a|o-s e· ¡oo.·.eos e¡ ¡a··..o|a· ¡e·ms. .· .os·-a1
.o.e|.-s the making ol a place that derives its order
lrom the olscuring ol its own recollected past.
Following the same strategies used in \enice. the Berlin project
legins with the erasure. reproduction. and superimposition ol
contingent leatures ol its site. 1he hypothetically reconstructed
eighteenth- and nineteenth- century loundation walls. the Hercator
projection. and the implication ol the Berlin \all itsell are marked
as so many countervailing grids laid onto the site at varying heights
developed lrom the heights ol the present streets and the Berlin
\all. All ol the luildings proposed lor the project can le seen as
emerging almost automatically lrom the initial planimetric strategy.
1he Koch- / Friedrichstrasse project thus makes explicit what was
already implied in Cannaregio. the triadic vocation ol the grid as
an architectural signiher÷at once a diagram ol the hypothetical
structures ol the site (an appropriation ol a hctive archaeology). a
material support lor the luilding`s lunctions (here little more than
an economic division ol housing cells. and at Cannaregio even less
than that). and a reiterative. sell- refexive structure÷a vocation
we see tested later in variations at Columlus. Franklurt. Cincinnati.
Long Beach. Paris. \erona. and elsewhere.
Lere Eisenman conlronts. squarely and architecturally. what
Benjamin Buchloh has descriled as "the essential dilemma` ol
conceptual art ol the mid- .p6cs. "the confict letween structural
specihcity and random organization. For the need. on the one
hand. lor loth a systematic reduction and an empirical verihca-
tion ol the perceptual data ol a visual structure stands opposed to
the desire. on the other hand. to assign a new 'idea` or meaning to
an olject randomly . . . as though the olject were an empty (lin-
1he random. arlitrary assignment. even in-
vention. ol archaeological content in \enice and Berlin opposes
the empty. geometrical tautologies ol the grid. the historical per-
mealility ol concrete architectural lorm opposes the structure`s
utter occlusion ol any historical relerence. And the only availalle
hgure ol thought that can hold these oppositions ol excess and
lack together is the ·-r·÷a tissue. textile. or texture ol relerral and
delay in which there is neither leginning nor end. neither a past
nor a luture. \hether Eisenman`s conceptual architecture. with
its textualization ol every domain ol the practice÷the site as text.
the program as text. the lody as text÷is a redemptive detour out
ol reihcation (the identihcation ol a possille critical vocation lor
the tissue ol lragmented. foating. reihed signs) or a postmodern
fattening ol allegory`s material and tragic dimensions is not so
much a dilemma ol alternatives as a contradiction and a paradox.
B E P E 1 I 1 I O R 73
the historical paradox ol postmodern allegory itsell. a paradox
that cannot le escaped. a paradox in which Eisenman`s work is
1wisting the paradox even tighter. Eisenman`s appropriation
ol already reihed material moves to yet a dillerent level in a second
operation ol Cannaregio. 1he previously worked out Louse \Ia÷
itsell a lormal record ol the history ol its own lormation. compris-
ing nothing more than a series ol hlmlike stills that trace the steps
ol devaluation lrom one state ol the olject to the next as it sucks
itsell in. doulles. and lurrows in a chthonic- topological trans-
lormation (the lower hall ol the olject is lully underground)÷
now lecomes the appropriated olject installed at the \enice site.
Again. already depleted ol its lunctional. material. and semantic
potentials. the house is devalued even more thoroughly. hrst ly
its repetition across the site and again ly its scaling. that is. the
changes in size lrom that ol a house to a series ol oljects either
smaller than a house or larger than a house. each ol which. in turn.
contains nothing lut the shell ol the next- smaller olject. A kind
ol diachronic sequence. analogous to Berlin`s hctive archaeol-
ogy. is therely superinduced on the synchronic structure ol the
\enetian grid. But the molecular element ol the cule÷a cule
with a smaller cule sultracted lrom it. which Eisenman calls an
"el- cule.` a hgure awaiting its supplement÷operates in opposi-
tion with processes ol unveiling the lormal device. insolar as the
el- cule cannot le lurther lroken down ly the "decomposition.`
It is a hgure. or letter perhaps what Brecht called a 6-s·os÷not
merely a gesture lut a condensation ol attitudes. a compression
ol a complex ideological stance into a singularity. 1he el- cule
as 6-s·os stands in dialectical contradiction to the processes ol
At the same time. the complex
repetitions ol all the elements ol Louse \Ia involve singularities
that multiply and refect one another. such that each ol the array
ol cules includes dillerence within itsell.
Peter Eisenman, sketch diagram of two
Cannaregio grids at different scales
in preparation for Choral Works, 1986.
Canadian Centre for Architecture.
B E P E 1 I 1 I O R 75
And hnally. the topological axis ol symmetry ol the inserted
oljects is traced as a cut into the ground. a line that connects the
two lridges across the canals that delimit the Cannaregio district.
reinscriling the territory already dehned ly the canals. 1hus the
loundaries ol the site and Eisenman`s own earlier work. as well
as Le Corlusier`s project. are all incorporated and gralted into
the structure ol the new work. now as so many redundant texts
that oppose all rooted or solidly signilying usages ol presumedly
authentic. historical languages (such as \enice`s vernacular or
Le Corlusier`s modernism) in lavor ol an architectural material.
well- lormed and precise. that renounces any harmonizing or hu-
manizing rehlling in order to move toward the very limits ol the
signilying practice. an architecture connected not to a pretense
ol authenticity lut to its own alolition. an allegory unto death.
hall- luried in the \enetian ¡eo1am-o·e.
1his eschatology ol lorever- delerred ends developed lrom
never- legun leginnings produces a near illegilility or paralysis
ol reading when. in the Choral \orks (.p88). Eisenman`s ex-
traordinary collaloration with Bernard 1schumi and Jacques
Ierrida. the Cannaregio project is transported to Paris and su-
perimposed at a dillerent scale onto 1schumi`s Parc de la \illette.
\ith the Choral \orks. Eisenman pushes the Cannaregio grid as
signiher past \enice and Le Corlusier toward some incompre-
hensille. lorever- delerred limit. Lere the grid lecomes nothing
lut the signiher ol the lack ol its own signilying hnality. ol the
lact that it can never express itsell lully and indeed has already
exceeded itsell. collapsing into an illegille singularity. All these
ceaseless repetitions and retracings ol elements across dillerent
sites÷the telescoping lall ol one element into another that itsell
duplicates the hrst and sets up a virtually uncontrollalle met-
onymic series÷are ly no means inconsistent with the logic ol
allegory. rather. such olsessive repetition loregrounds the struc-
tural or axiomatic aspect ol allegory as distinct lrom the thematic.
that is. allegory as a monadic plurality ol domains. It is as il the
allegorical signihers carry within themselves the template ol the
larger allegorical system even as they are only the structural ellects
ol that system. And il later we will want to ask whence comes
Eisenman`s compulsion to repeat. let us hrst question its ellects.
I have already suggested that the group ol artihcial excavations
is a meditation on the journey ol the architectural sign to a visual
commodity. But to this it should le added that the repetition and
depletion ol signs is a successor to the production ol delamil-
iarization and alienation ellects mentioned alove. a procedure
that repeats its olject in order to interrogate it. to examine how
it came into leing. to loreground its arlitrariness. to show. that
is. the olject as constructed according to the conventional tech-
niques and categories authorized ly the discipline itsell. 1he
paradigmatic modernist olject and its ideology ol rationalization
and remedial progress toward the luture are here grasped not as
olject lut as olject symlolized. which is to say olject as autho-
rized ly the architectural 8ymlolic. Building on already existing
architectures and urlan structures lut shilting our attention to
the ideological devices that normally lrame our understanding
ol lorm. Cannaregio causes us to refect directly on architecture`s
disciplinary presumptions÷presumptions alout the determinant
structure ol the site. alout architecture`s mimetic lunction. alout
the ideological status ol lorm. By sliding a hiatus letween lorm
and content. the project renders the architectural sign exterior to
itsell and thus dismantles the ideological sell- identity ol the rou-
tine lusiness ol design in order to show just how deeply arlitrary
and questionalle what everyone takes lor granted as olvious. real.
and correct actually is. In construing the Cannaregio project in this
way. I am insisting that it is ly relolding and rescripting material
institutions÷in the sense that the discipline ol architecture itsell
is an institution÷and not merely ly manipulating detached lorms
that Eisenman`s work hnds its ideological teeth.
B E P E 1 I 1 I O R 77
But there is more. Eisenman`s layering ol visual texts÷the
superimposition ol preexisting lalrics. the erasure ol their use
value. the redoulling ol this visual text ly his own interventions÷
and the shilt ol attention to ideologically motivated disciplinary
devices lurther ollige us to locate the possilility ol disciplinary
critique in the process ol constituting the olject in interpreta-
tion. that is. in the practice ol ·-a1.o¸. And here we circle lack
to the notion ol perlormativity. Concretely. this emphasis on
perlormativity implies that the potential ol critical action÷the
critique ol the legitimating commercial and educational appa-
ratuses and their classihcatory and interpretive procedures÷is
produced and made availalle. in a symlolic mode. through
new practices ol reading propelled ly the oljects themselves.
1hrough an almost complete "de- skilling` ol the architect÷an
evacuation ol cralt. taste. and any notion ol "good design` as cri-
teria ol aesthetic judgment÷Eisenman`s projects lecome almost
pure ideology ellects. registrations ol the discursive (not merely
lormal) leatures ol architecture as an institution. ol the very rules
ol the architectural discourse that determine what can le thought
But to dwell only on the "critical olject` as the site ol disci-
plinary critique is to miss the other. related. side ol Eisenman`s
paradoxical procedure. which could le characterized as a kind ol
euphoria uniting the repetition ol discursive codes with the
moment in which the sulject ol the discourse is olliterated.
Boland Barthes descriles this as an act ol reading÷or. letter. ol
rescripting÷the doxologies ol culture. a simultaneous pleasure ol
repeating what already exists (the enjoyment ol cultural or disci-
plinary identity) and a jouissance ol aesthetic disruption.
architecture ol pleasure would le a transaction within a lounded
inventory ol cultural codes. ol preexisting elements lilted lrom
the history ol the discipline and redeployed. Barthes develops
Lacan`s notion ol jouissance to descrile the experience ol the
alyss that such transactions open up. 1his is the same "perverse`
coupling ol alhrmation and negation. ol reproduction and sus-
pension. that we hnd in the llank allegory ol Eisenman. whose
projects are invaded ly the ideologies and repetitions ol the
disciplinary code even as he issues exhortations against them.
\hat else are Eisenman`s early houses lut empiricist studies ol
the structural codes ol modern architecture and art lrom Le
Corlusier. 1erragni. and Ie 8tijl to Bolert Horris and 8ol Le\itt¨
In these houses the production ol meaning is still a closed pro-
cess in the sense that we return. again and again. to the most
lasic cognitive lorms ol architecture÷the cule. the plane. the
line. and the point÷delamiliarized lorms. perhaps. lut closed
nevertheless. And it is that same doxa that is entered into. opened
up. unsettled. and hnally llanked out in the prolound disenchant-
ment ol \enice. where modernist lormal logic is systematically
reduced and superimposed on a specihc site. alsorling the site
into its own structure. lorcing modernist critique and hope to the
sterile condition ol tautology. It is here that the modernist aspira-
tion lor total sell- relerentiality coupled with utter randomness
is lulhlled. lut we must also recognize the heavy price to le paid
lor that achievement. the complete evacuation ol the signihed.
1o read the Cannaregio project lor its signihcance is to read it as
a molile play ol signihers that registers the ideologies ol the
architectural discipline itsell. But the tragedy ol history is not
therely transcended. as in classical allegory. nor are its shattered
elements relunctionalized. as in modernist allegory. Bather.
history is merely displaced ly a lleached- out textuality. the anach-
ronic sulject lalls into nonplace and nontime (Eisenman is
explicit alout this). into inhnite delerral without the confict ol
1he coupling ol jouissance and loss strikingly reveals the outer
limits ol modern suljectivity÷the threshold ol complete sense
liquidation÷and. at that lorderline. the implacalle closure ol
B E P E 1 I 1 I O R 79
Eisenman`s signilying economy. whose only (impossille) escape
is a kind ol death wish.
Eisenman`s ·-r·- 1- ¡eo.ssao.- takes a
quasi- erotic pleasure in accomplishing the death ol its sulject in
two senses. the dissolution ol its content (its discursive sulject
matter) and ol its agent (the author or reader as a sulject pos-
sessing a disciplinary competence). creating a textual solution
wherein the death wish is driven into the very aesthetic refexiv-
ity ol his architecture. leaving virtually no material residue to le
lound within the arid compartments ol mirrors constructed ly
the architecture itsell. In contemporary theory the m.s- -o a!,m-
has usually leen taken as the sign ol such aesthetic closure as well
as the denial ol the historical and sociopolitical contexts that such
a mechanism ol sell- refection ensures. But it should le under-
scored again that the inhnite redoulling ol the sign right up to
the edge ol the void is only the most extreme register ol allegory.
Eisenman`s allegorical structure enunciates lrom the start its lost
center and estallishes as its project to reiterate that loss. inhnitely
delerring the redemption it promises.
\e can now investigate the lorce lehind this death ol the sul-
ject. lut we need to move to yet another level ol interpretation to
reveal its contours. For what links allegorical repetition to a hnal.
shuddering release. and indeed what lies lehind the lusion ol
repetition. sell- immolation. and jouissance. is the Freudian
mechanism ol l.-1-·|e|oo¸s:oao¸. or repetition compulsion.
which is itsell motivated ly the death drive÷an aggression that is
directed inward toward the sulject and strives lor a kind ol sulject
degree zero through the neutralization ol all internal tensions and
quantities. 1he death drive is as lully developed a lorm ol desire
as the goal- oriented sexual and lile instincts. Indeed. the latter
are themselves provoked in characteristic Freudian linary oppo-
sition to death`s "silent` drive. they are lut recuperative responses
to the dillerentiated death drive that continually introduce new
desires and tensions into the system.
B E P E 1 I 1 I O R 81
Peter Eisenman, sketch site plan
showing superimposition of
Cannaregio and La Villette sites at
different scales, 1986. Canadian
Centre for Architecture.
1he clinical phenomenon ol repetition compulsion was among
Freud`s principal starting points lor his theory ol the drive. Le
olserved the syndrome loth in the child`s tendency to repeat. as
in the game ol íe··- ua. anything lound to le ellective in dimin-
ishing his displeasure during the alsence ol his mother. and in
certain neurotic hxations on traumatic events and the paradoxical
regression to unpleasure through the repetition ol those events.
In 8-,eo1 ·|- l|-aso·- l·.o..¡|-. Freud identihes two dillerent
lorces lehind the syndrome ol repetition and ascriles loth to
an instinctual impulse to achieve stasis in the psychic economy
and reduce the quantity ol stimulation and internal tension to
the lowest possille level. On the one hand. there is a seemingly
progressive lorce÷¡·.e· ·e lut not inconsistent with the pleasure
principle÷ly which the sulject stages the ellects ol alsence and
loss. then works through that material to master unpleasure ly
means ol repetition. On the other hand. there is a lorce !-,eo1
the pleasure principle÷that is. inconsistent with it÷a regressive
lorce that impels the sulject to reinstate some previous psychic
state (such as a hxation on traumas ol war) even when that state
yields unpleasure. Giving priority to the regression side ol the
progression- pleasure / regression- unpleasure dichotomy and
comlining this with the hypothesis that all repetition is a lorm ol
regulatory discharge within the psychic economy. Freud devised
a lormal dehnition ol instinct. "But how is the predicate ol leing
'instinctual` related to the compulsion to repeat¨ . . . l· s--ms.
·|-o. ·|a· ao .os·.o.· .s ao o·¸- .o|-·-o· .o e·¸ao.. |.¡- ·e ·-s·e·- ao
-a·|.-· s·a·- e¡ ·|.o¸s which the living entity has leen olliged to
alandon under the pressure ol external disturling lorces.`
il instinct is really a drive to restore an earlier state ol things.
then a degree zero stage ol nonlile appears to le lile`s ultimate
historical aim. the apparatus that strives to nullily all inherent
tensions÷to divest itsell utterly ol quantity÷is an apparatus that
ultimately extinguishes its sulject. the death drive. 1hus Freud
B E P E 1 I 1 I O R 83
concludes. "Everything living dies lor .o·-·oa| reasons . . . the
aim ol all lile is death.`
Freud`s equililration letween the developmental lorces ol
progressive evolution (prior to the pleasure principle) and re-
gressive involution (leyond the pleasure principle) seems to le
structurally congruent with Eisenman`s conjunction ol the
pleasure ol repeating "a comlortalle practice ol reading` with
the jouissance ol imposing "a state ol loss.` Eisenman`s pleasure
conlorms to the Freudian construction ol homeostasis wherely.
through repetition as discharge. the psyche seeks to eliminate all
quantity. Louses I through \I encode the pleasure ol such a read-
ing. they emlrace rather than reluse the doxas ol the discipline.
Beading these projects reproduces within the viewer the pleasure
ol the paradigms ol culture the viewer has internalized÷the genre
ol the single- lamily house. lor example. or the articulation and
legilility ol lorms and procedures still overseen ly the symlolic
authority ol architectural institutions lehind the scene. íe··- ua.
authority is removed. then reconstituted. 1he sulject gravitates
to death`s void lut preserves pleasure ly covering over the void
with repeated signs. Jouissance is properly leyond the wish lor
pleasure. transgressing the law ol cultural authority with repeti-
tion as inhnite regress to suljective annihilation. 1he jouissance
ol \enice jams the pleasures ol reading to train our attention on
the shattered origins ol the architectural discourse and prevents
the architectural text lrom closing in on a signihed. it exploits the
elements out ol which architectural signs are made. conlorming to
the 8ymlolic that circulates around it÷lut only to pin them to
their ultimate inadequacy. For the 8ymlolic order is also the
realm ol alsence and lack. indeed. ol death. Il desire depletes its
oljects. leaving nothing lut hollow shells. it is lecause. at its
extreme. desire matches up to nothing lut desire itsell. And thus
Eisenman lollows the logic ol Freud`s repetition compulsion as
an avatar ol the death drive. where the erotic and thanatotic lunc-
tions are conjugated in a signiher÷repetition÷that has as its
signihed the impossilility ol its own signihcation. "1he death
drive is only the mask ol the symlolic order.` Lacan insisted.
1he death drive is a maximum resolution ol the compulsive return
to lost origins. to the lig Other. and jouissance is lut the little
death. the orgasmic shudder. experienced when we rehearse that
But il the reader ol Freud is hard put to hnd material evidence
ol the instinct underlying the compulsion. in Eisenman one
laces the lact head on. the repetition compulsion is driven ly the
windless void ol present history and the utter loss ol the possilil-
ity ol signihcation itsell. In his essay "1he Louse ol the Iead as
the City ol 8urvival.` on Bossi`s analogous city drawings. Eisenman
asserted the exigent program lor present- day architecture to le
to reckon with post- signihcation.
!|- ¡·e!|-m |o- ¡a.- oeo .s} .|ees.o¸ !-·o--o ao aoa.|-
·eo.s·.. .eo·.ooao.- e¡ |e¡- ao1 ao a..-¡·ao.- e¡ ·|-
!a·- .eo1.·.eos e¡ so·...a|. . . . lo.a¡a!|- e¡ !-|.-..o¸ .o
·-aseo. oo.-··a.o e¡ ·|- s.¸o.¡.ao.- e¡ |.s e!¡-.·s. man
[has lost] his capacity lor signilying. . . . !|- .eo·-r·
o|..| ¸a.- .1-as ao1 e!¡-.·s ·|-.· ¡·-..eos s.¸o.¡.ao.-
.s ¸eo-. . . . !|- |me1-·o.s· ¡·e¡esa| e¡ ·|-} 1-a·| e¡
a··` oe |eo¸-· e¡¡-·s a ¡e|-m..a| ¡ess.!.|.·,. !-.aos- ·|-
¡e·m-· m-ao.o¸ e¡ a·· oe |eo¸-· e!·a.os. !|-·- .s oeo
m-·-|, a |ao1s.a¡- e¡ e!¡-.·s. o-o ao1 e|1 a·- ·|- sam-.
·|-, a¡¡-a· ·e |a.- m-ao.o¸ !o· ·|-, s¡-a| .o·e a .e.1 e¡
|.s·e·,. !|- ·-a|.:a·.eo e¡ ·|.s .e.1. a· eo.- .a·a.|,sm..
ao1 .|aos··e¡|e!... 1-mao1s ·|a· ¡as·. ¡·-s-o·. ao1
¡o·o·- !- ·-.eo¡¸o·-1. 1o have meaning. loth oljects
and lile must acknowledge and symlolize this new
B E P E 1 I 1 I O R 85
\e must signily the lact that we can no longer signily. Eisenman
generalizes the historical condition ol loss and anticipates per-
lormative oljects alle to s.¸o their own certihcate ol death. Be-
ihcation÷the complete penetration ol the commodity letish into
the very structure ol suljective relations. the complete erasure ol
all traces ol olject production÷exasperates the desire to m-ao
and lorces a leap into the void. Eisenman here stages the overall
project ol the late avant- garde as just such a leap. as the lecoming
aware ol loss÷a kind ol architectural death drive already latent
in the modernism on which Eisenman`s work is lased.
then. is his oljects` perlormativity il not the disclosing ol the last
remaining desiring procedures lor signihcation. and what is
his continual appropriation. depletion. and reappropriation ol
depleted signihers il not a practical. allegorical use ol the com-
pulsion to repeat. an incessant replaying ol the reihcation ol
signs and the cancellation ol the sulject. all as a signihcation that
signihcation is hencelorth impossille¨ "1he game is already
played. the die already cast.` wrote Lacan. "It is already cast. with
the lollowing proviso. that we can pick it up again. and throw it
But I am repeating mysell. so let me lring this to an end. I
have insisted that the reiteralility ol Eisenman`s desiring pro-
cesses and its consequences÷the liquidation ol traditional
aesthetic experience. the potentiality ol disciplinary critique÷
are played out in the architectural drawing. \hen Eisenman`s
project remains within the prollematic ol representation. then
the critical lorce ol the work seems ellective. But it is a paradoxical
lorce. lor the medium ol the critique must le the same alstract
and reihed material that the critique discloses. and the attempt
ol these "excavations` to evacuate history. past and luture. is
itsell historically determined. It is just in the nature ol the his-
torical moment Eisenman conlronts that it is experienced as
the lathetic completion ol modernist amlitions to graphically
relunction alstract signs. Eisenman`s architecture is accurate
and legitimate lut perhaps also. in its representation ol a culture
dispossessed ol meaning. oledient.
\hen the drawings are translated into luilt works. as in the
housing llock in Koch- / Friedrichstrasse. lor example. Eisenman`s
glass leads ol perlect repetition are thrown against the hard foor
ol luilding practice. A contradiction emerges that he was alle to
avoid in the never- to- le- luilt Cannaregio project. the lunction-
alization ol the dyslunctional diagram and the aestheticization ol
the conceptual sign. Eisenman`s response is conservative. It
derives lrom a reluctance to accept the complete disintegration
ol the aesthetic olject. even alter the radically altered historical
circumstances that allect the conditions ol architectural produc-
tion and reception were recognized in Cannaregio and such a
disintegration was hrst enunciated. 1he anti- aesthetic signihers
now reappear in a kind ol aesthetic atavism. attempting (one last
time) to recoup investments in meaning already liquidated.
relusing the destiny Eisenman himsell had already predicted.
¥et it is just this perlormative contradiction (the relused destiny.
its cynical truth claim) that gives the luilt work its power. it
repeats the oljective conditions under which any work ol archi-
tecture in the present must le produced÷the constant struggle
against the two equally intoleralle poles ol mere oledient service
to existing institutions and mere aesthetic voluntarism. Belore
hoping to surpass the contradiction. Eisenman must perlorce
repeat it. 8uch unresolved antagonisms ol reality reappear in
B E P E 1 I 1 I O R 87
Jacques Derrida, letter to Peter Eisenman with sketch
proposal for an intervention in Bernard Tschumi’s
project for La Villette, May 30, 1986. Courtesy
Marguerite Derrida. “And more than grille, grid, etc.,
it will have a certain rapport with a selective and
interpretive filter, telescope, or photographic filter
and aerial view, which allows the reading and the
screening (sifting?) of the three sites, the three layers
(PDE, BT, LV).”
E R C O I R 1 E B 89
Form for the late avant- garde appears as a fatedness—an inhuman force that
enables and organizes architectural concepts while imposing itself as a
blockage to any different future experiences. Expression. meanwhile.
demands interaction among situation. viewer. and the larger cul-
ture out ol which architecture arises. it requires reorganizing
shapes. geometries. scenes. and materials into allective units. 1o
achieve these things. expression needs to press the death instinct
into its service. yielding to the mandate ol alsence and repetition
to produce perceptions ol dillerence÷as something that happens
to us. that interrupts. that throws us out ol joint. 1his dialectic is
an originary structural necessity that lies at the heart ol architec-
tural practice. not an alfiction lrom outside. It is. in lact. the
property ol architectural desire itsell. which lies on the lorderline
letween the lleached- out alstractions ol lormalism (pure desire
is "the pure and simple desire ol death as such`)
and the aesthetic
expressions we as individuals mistakenly lelieve to have leen
made lor us alone.
1his same dialectic is lound in the work ol the entire late
avant- garde. 1hus the repetition ol lorm already detectalle in
Bossi`s projects and intensihed in Eisenman`s persists in Lejduk`s
work. lut now as encounter. situation. and event. Lere we conlront
an architecture not. like Eisenman`s. indillerent to sensuous
experience. lut rather decidedly animated and personihed even
il not quite human. Like the animals in a lalle that speak with
human voices. Lejduk`s oljects seem. impossilly. to le aware ol
us. to address us. And yet we see not the gratilying refection ol
ourselves we had hoped lor lut another thing looking lack at us.
watching us. placing us. 1he way in which Lejduk`s architecture
encounters its viewer. the way in which the encounter takes place
or. letter. is a taking e¡ place. and. more specihcally. the way in
which the architectural lorm oa|| is constructed as the expressive
apparatus that enalles or enacts that taking ol place is a lunda-
mental theme÷·|- lundamental theme÷in Lejduk`s entire lody
ol work. Lere I chart the development ol that theme.
In an early (.p63) lut olten- repeated explication ol the Iia-
mond Louses (the series ol carelully calilrated and measured
lormal translormations. executed letween .p63 and .p6¸. that
owe much to Piet Hondrian. Le Corlusier. and Hies van der
Bohe). Lejduk constructs a diagram ol the history ol architectural
space. declaring the paradigmatic space ol the present to le the
compression onto a vertical two- dimensional surlace ol the
space generated ly the two legs ol a right angle. 1he logic goes
something like this. Il the primitive condition ol architecture is
the square. the square is nevertheless generated as the isometric
projection ol a diamond. making the diamond paradoxically
prior to. or more primitive than. the square. ¥et il the diamond
is understood perceptually as the plan diagram ol an architectural
space rather than as a two- dimensional graphic shape. then the
most lundamental percept ol the space ol the diamond is another
square now locked into the vertical plane. one that results lrom
collapsing the two legs ol the diamond`s right angle. projected as
vertical planes or walls. onto a picture plane. In other words. the
diamond returns to the square in the event ol its perception. 1his
is true whether the viewer is outside the diamond plan. with the
protruding exterior corner reduced to an invisille line on the
perceptual plane. or inside the plan. with the corner now retreat-
ing. lut with no perceivalle dillerence.
E R C O I R 1 E B 91
John Hejduk, Diamond Museum C,
c. 1962. Explanatory sketches.
\hat is more. this compression ol deep space onto a fat eleva-
tional surlace is homologous with loth the picture plane onto
which the perspectival space ol the Benaissance is projected÷
Allerti`s lamous vertical memlrane on which traces ol the lines
ol vision are inscriled÷and the anti- Allertian canvas ol the
culist still lile (think ol the talle ol the still lile tilted up verti-
cally). in which perspective`s leginning and end. the vanishing
point. is always alsent. Ieveloping the classicist- modernist
axioms ol fatness versus depth and opacity versus transparency.
Lejduk understands this percept÷the image ol the fattening or
collapsing ol deep space onto the square vertical plane÷as at
once the most lasic element ol any architecture (the summation
ol the history ol architectural space to date) and a historically
specihc phenomenon. For the percept itsell is located on the
crease in time letween the past and the luture. "It`s a leautilul
distance.` he declares ol the space and time seen lackward and
lorward lrom this plane. "As you go lack into space it gets into
deeper perspective. it gets less clear and you can never really
complete it. lecause that`s the unknown. it isn`t hxed. 8o it gets
darker. As you get closer to the present. it`s clearer. On the plane
ol the present is that horizontal armature. which is the hypotenuse.
you just speculate on lutures.`
1he diagram at the lottom ol a
series ol sketches lor the Iiamond Louses lecture is Lejduk`s
shorthand notation lor the coming into leing ol this space- time
apparatus. It is lor him the lundamental mechanism ol expression
ly which architecture pushes its most lasic logic. its genetic code.
out into the realm ol the visille. And that lecoming÷the sequence
ol events in which deep space and past time is collapsed onto a
vertical surlace÷sultends the entire trajectory ol Lejduk`s career.
In Kantian vocalulary. ¡e·m arises when a multiplicity ol sen-
sations are connected in agreement with one another. resulting
in a perceptual unity that is not covered ly and cannot le sulsumed
under a conceptual unity. (It is just the extent to which aesthetic
judgments ol taste resist conceptual analysis while still claiming
universal validity that makes them the privileged moments ol the
6·.·.¸o- e¡ jo1¸m-o·.) 8uch a ¡-·.-¡·om. as Kant called this lorm.
cannot le attriluted to an olject itsell. Bather. it can le perceived
only in the singularity ol the event addressed ly aesthetic judg-
ment. It is as il Lejduk. at this point in his career. has assimilated
the Kantian machinery ol singular appearances and events and
constructed his own moment ol Kantian lorm. lor it is quite clear
that the diamond percept is an event in this sense. what Lejduk
called the "moment ol the hypotenuse.`
John Hejduk, Wall House,
sketch, c. 1968. Canadian Centre
1he research ol the Iiamond Louse and its perceptual screen
made possille the "discovery` ol the \all Louse (lor it is as il it
had always leen there in the architectural unconscious waiting
lor an event to trigger its |a.|··a¸|..||-.·). alout which Lejduk
wrote. "In order to have a- priori principles meaninglul. and
to give up and put lorth organic revelations. there had to le a
1he \all Louse is Lejduk`s architectural still lile
ol liomorphic shapes and lragments ol geometric oljects now
hovering in elevation in lront ol an actual thin. taut wall plane
(the lorm). rather than leing deployed lack. deep in plan. lehind
a perceptual plane as in the Iiamond Louses.
"1he wall repre-
sents the same condition ol the 'moment ol the hypotenuse` in
the Iiamond houses÷it`s the moment ol greatest repose. and at
the same time the greatest tension. It is a moment ol passage. 1he
wall heightens that sense ol passage. and ly the same token. its
thinness heightens the sense ol it leing just a momentary condi-
tion . . . what I call the moment ol the 'present.``
One thinks ol
Picasso`s still lile !|- 4·.|.·-.·`s !a!|- (.p..)÷its shilting layers
and transparencies. its attempt to make a new pictorial order
out ol perception itsell. lut always through the conventions and
the procedures ol painting. But more important lor Lejduk is
Georges Braque`s S·o1.e lll. in which a lird seems to fy through
a wall. a painting that Lejduk olsessed over lecause in it the wall
is not an olject as such lut rather a singular hgure that neverthe-
less possesses a universality. directing and determining how that
olject appears at a certain time and place. 1he wall must constantly
translorm and delorm itsell into its other. it must direct discrep-
ancies to its unity. it must. lor example. have a lird fy through it.
1he wall lrings lorth the lird as the lird lrings lorth the wall in a
singular assemllage. wall- lecoming- lird. Lejduk`s \all Louse
is the architect`s version ol the culist dream ol lringing into
leing a new order. with all its contradictions. with all its total-
izing tendencies. and with all its world- making amlitions.
E R C O I R 1 E B 95
A dimension ol the hgural is already present in the \all
Louse÷not ol cliched images or recycled meanings. rather. it
is a dimension ol gesture and relerral that opens up a sense ol
a world outside the purely syntactical organizations whose do-
main. it has leen assumed. encloses the early experiments ol
loth Lejduk and Eisenman (recall that the \all Louses were
hrst presented with Eisenman`s early house projects as having
It is apparent that every element ol the \all
Louse comes lrom the lormal repertoire ol Le Corlusier (think
especially ol \illa La Boche and the llank wall at the monastery
ol La 1ourette). and yet our encounter with the \all Louse is an
experience unassimilalle within Corlusian codes. \e hnd our-
selves lorced to resort to a language ol psychological and phe-
nomenal lorces. ol emotions and allections. ol an unencoded or
preencoded morphology that works hrst upon sensation lelore it
quickly collapses lack into known lact÷Cezanne`s "airy. colored
logic suddenly ousting somler. stullorn geometry` (and we
know ol Lejduk`s olsession with Cezanne).
I think this excess
comes partly lrom an amliguity alout occupation. Io we inhalit
the house (only one person at a time. it seems). or does it inhalit
an environment ol its own creation. projected out ol its claim to
emplacement. and necessarily independent¨ Rone ol the \all
Louse variants were designed lor actual sites. yet they take their
place. 1he \all Louse is an inhalitalle threshold letween out-
side and inside. lack and lront. íe··- ua. a conceptual. imagined
"gone` and an emlodied. perceived "here.` 1hat is. it exists in
percept and memory as much as in reality. virtually more than
actually (hence disturling phenomenological notions ol .e·¡s
.-.o). constituting what Lejduk called "moments ol passage`
and "a coming to pass.` points ol contact letween the solace and
security ol the internal and eternal and the uncertainties ol the
external and now.
John Hejduk, Wall House 3, 1974 elevation
and plan. “If the painter could, by a single
transformation, take a three- dimensional still
life and paint it on a canvas into a natura
morta, could it be possible for the architect to
take the natura morta of a painting and, by a
single transformation, build it into a still life?”
E R C O I R 1 E B 97
At the same time. the \all Louse makes explicit another con-
dition ol hgure that was only implied in the Iiamond Louses. lut
will le explored in sulsequent projects. 1he viewing sulject ol
architecture is not just the olserver ol an olject locused as an
image and arrayed lelore him or her on the plane ol perception.
Bather. the sulject is also produced ly the architecture. in the
moment ol encounter. inasmuch as the architecture÷or letter.
the architectural lig Other operating lehind the scene ol en-
counter÷exerts a dehning. identilying lorce lack on the sulject.
and in the same vertical plane. so to speak. Architecture is the
point ol suljectihcation lrom which the viewer`s sulject position
emerges. As noted. Lejduk understands the elevational surlace.
together with its temporal dimension. as the topos ol the cultural
reserve ol spatial organizations. ol which each moment ol archi-
tectural experience is just one instance. All ol architecture`s latent
possililities. the entire architectural language. lie waiting in
accumulated layers just lehind the plane. "It`s physical ly mem-
ory.` he says ol this plane at one point. Lis elevational surlace÷
the \all as a signilying apparatus÷contains all the sedimented
conventions ol the discipline. the codes ol architecture luilt up
over centuries lrom Allerti to Le Corlusier and Hies (shadowed
ly Picasso and Braque). overlaid with qualihcations and values.
shot through with the ideals and ideologies ol past generations.
For Lejduk. the \all is thus a site ol desiring transactions analo-
gous to Bossi`s typological Imaginary. But whereas Bossi`s system
is primarily concerned with the processes ol the olject. Lejduk`s
is concerned more with the event ol sulject lormation. It is "all-
encompassing.` he says ol the \all. "it`s an expanding universe.
It`s emanating lrom a center. it`s an explosive center.` And you
are not just looking at it. "you are in it.` he insists. "¥ou lecome
an element ol an internal system ol organisms.`
1he \all pushes lack at the looker. \alter Benjamin noticed
this phenomenon ol reciprocal viewing and linked it to the pres-
ence ol aura.
|l|a· oas} ¡-|· ·e !- .o|omao. eo- m.¸|· -.-o sa, 1-a1|,.
.o 1a¸o-··-e·,¡, oas ·|- (¡·e|eo¸-1· |ee|.o¸ .o·e ·|-
.am-·a. s.o.- ·|- .am-·a ·-.e·1s eo· |.|-o-ss o.·|eo·
·-·o·o.o¸ eo· ¸a:-. 8o· |ee|.o¸ a· sem-eo- .a··.-s ·|-
.m¡|...· -r¡-.·a·.eo ·|a· eo· |ee| o.|| !- ·-·o·o-1 !, ·|-
e!¡-.· e¡ eo· ¸a:-. l|-·- ·|.s -r¡-.·a·.eo .s m-· . . . . ·|-·-
.s ao -r¡-·.-o.- e¡ ·|- ao·a ·e ·|- ¡o||-s· -r·-o·. . . .
ír¡-·.-o.- e¡ ao·a ·|os ·-s·s eo ·|- ··aos¡es.·.eo e¡ a
·-s¡eos- .emmeo .o |omao ·-|a·.eos|.¡s ·e ·|- ·-|a·.eos
!-·o--o ·|- .oao.ma·- e· oa·o·a| e!¡-.· ao1 |·|- ¡-·seo}
. . . . !e ¡-·.-..- ·|- ao·a e¡ ao e!¡-.· o- |ee| a· m-aos ·e
.o.-s· .· o.·| ·|- a!.|.·, ·e |ee| a· os .o ·o·o. !|.s -r¡-·.-o.-
.e··-s¡eo1s ·e ·|- 1a·a e¡ ·|- memoire involontaire.
But Lejduk`s \all locuses that involuntary memory÷the vaporous
memory ol architecture`s own history÷in the present instance
ol emlodied vision. 1he corporeal- temporal dimension ol the
plane ol encounter keeps what might otherwise lreeze into a hnal
reihed image lrom ever hxing itsell. Its mnemonics are emer-
gent rather than residual. and any memories produced must le
Indeed. in this respect Lejduk`s own comments on the \all
apparatus are akin to the lamous contemporaneous story (.p6¡)
ly Lacan. who writes ol seeing a sardine can foating on the sea.
glittering in the sun. and looking lack at him. it seems. situating
him. pinning him to a lundamental lack in his own sell and to
his own decentered moment. 1he encounter led Lacan to his
theory ol the doulle articulation ol the sulject as loth viewer
ol the olject and under the regard ol the olject. pictured ly its
E R C O I R 1 E B 99
"gaze.` Lacan specihes that only through a visual engagement with
a virtual counterpart. in a mirror or on a screen. can we acquire
identity. Le diagrams this in a way very similar to Lejduk`s spa-
tial apparatus. On the one hand is the perspectival cone ol the
Benaissance. the ··em¡-- |`e-.| that produces and organizes the
image lor us on the transparent picture plane. On the other hand
is an opposite cone that emanates lrom the olject itsell. like a
projected light coming at us (like the light lrom the sardine can).
which we cannot control and which Lacan calls the "gaze.` In this
projected light. coinciding with the plane ol the image. is an in-
terrupting screen. opaque rather than transparent. Lacan calls it
the 1em¡·-- ·-¸a·1. a memlrane or llotter that suldues or medi-
ates the gaze lor us and helps us to negotiate its llinding light.
Lacan calls the coincidence ol the two planes the "image- screen`
or the "mask.` and it is this that loth determines what can and
cannot le seen and how it is seen and helps us to manage what
is seen ly giving us an Imaginary- 8ymlolic system with which
to represent things to ourselves and ourselves to others. "Han.
in ellect. knows how to play with the mask as that leyond which
there is the gaze.` Lacan states. "1he screen is here the locus ol
Lejduk`s image- screen. with its similar dialectic
The subject of representation The gaze
Jacques Lacan, diagram of the
gaze. From The Four Fundamental
Concepts of Psycho- Analysis.
John Hejduk, Identity Card Man, from
the Victims series, 1986. “Collects
identity card / photographs card /
Projects film of card onto screen /
Once— / destroys negative / explicit
faith in memories / hallucination /
E R C O I R 1 E B 101
ol fatness and depth. opacity and transparency÷his Hask ol
Hedusa÷is his \all. 1he \all traces Architecture`s gaze. we
are placed lelore the \all ly Architecture`s gaze. For Lejduk as
lor Lacan. the image- screen is an apparatus ol the Imaginary /
8ymlolic necessary lor our social and cultural existence÷a his-
torically generated repertoire ol images and codes through which
we as social suljects are constructed in something like an archi-
tectural mirror stage (can it le a mere coincidence that one side
ol Lejduk`s wall is a mirror¨) ly lorces ol architectural desire.
1he reading ol Lejduk`s architecture as a machinery ol sulject
construction hnds a conhrmation ol stunning precision in one ol
the units lrom the \ictims series ol .p86. the Identity Card Han.
descriled as lollows.
6e||-.·s .1-o·.·, .a·1
l·e¡-.·s ¡|m e¡ .a·1 eo·e s.·--o
-r¡|...· ¡a.·| .o m-me·.-s
1he sulject`s identity is photo- graphed. inscriled ly light. it is
projected onto a screen. the sulject is signed as a hallucination.
a m-.eooa.ssao.-. on the memlrane ol the Imaginary. populated
ly e!¡-·s ¡-·.·- a. he is lut a mnemonic stain.
But this project ol .p86 takes us too lar ahead. Late in .p¸3
Lejduk traveled to Iurich lor an exhilition ol his and Aldo Bossi`s
work at the Eidgenossische 1echnische Lochschule. where Bossi
1here. lor the hrst time. he saw Bossi`s provocative
and haunting drawings lor the residences at Gallaratese (.p¸c).
the school at Fagnano Olona (.p¸.). and the City Lall lor Huggiò
(.p¸.). Le also saw the Cemetery ol 8an Cataldo at Hodena (.p¸.).
1he encounter with Bossi made a crease in Lejduk`s career.
which letween .p¸3 and .p¸¡ would lold lack on itsell in a reex-
amination ol accomplishments to date and reconsideration ol
his work`s trajectory in the light ol what he saw in Iurich. \hat
struck Lejduk in Bossi`s work was not simply a typology ol reduced
lorms comparalle to Lejduk`s own (as a contemporaneous critic
aptly descriled them. "a lew hnished elements that are geomet-
rically precise. insisted on in an almost olsessional manner.
hxed in time and continuously rehned`).
it was. rather. the
1.s.·-¡ao., letween Bossi`s stated intent to sulsume all ol the
architectural Imaginary into a hnite. iteralle categorization ol
types and the dimension ol Bossi`s work that eludes and exceeds
such enclosure. Lejduk saw the heterogeneities and singularities
that geometry cannot hold. In the Hodena project Lejduk noticed.
lor example. the estrangements and 1-·eo·o-m-o·s lrom Ledoux`s
ideal city ol Chaux. Boullee`s cenotaph. and Piranesi`s Campo
Harzio. the latent relerences to the Sa.||..||-.· ol Lillerseimer
and Loos. even to Lannes Heyer`s little- known .p.3 cemetery
project. and also allusions to the paintings ol de Chirico. 8ironi.
and Horandi. the hlms ol Fellini and \isconti. and the novels ol
Baymond Chandler and Baymond Boussel. Lejduk heard the
multimedia murmur lehind Bossi`s silence. 1he daemons ol the
analogous city were whispering to him. And he wondered alout
unleashing all that Bossi had suppressed.
1he \all Louse was Lejduk`s availalle device ol temporal.
narrative potential and radical hguration÷a lorm that directs
an event. 1ogether these two leatures ol narrative and hgure
structure the desiring held that will lecome his answer to Bossi`s
analogous city. Lejduk`s preliminary response (in what at hrst
seems a surprisingly tentative staking out ol new territory) was the
Cemetery lor the Ashes ol 1hought (.p¸¡). in which he lreathed
lile into \all Louse 3 (.p¸¡). reanimating it to stand as sentinel
E R C O I R 1 E B 103
across a lagoon lrom the old Hulino 8tucky luilding in \enice
("1he little house was colored overlooking the monochromatic.
systemic. European world`).
Other than the \all Louse and
the mill. the proposal is lor nothing more than a columlarium
dehned ly low walls with holes ("holes.` not niches or urns)
holding containers with ashes and plaques with the titles and
authors ol canonic \estern literature. An existing alandoned
mill. a house designed a year earlier. walls with holes÷almost
nothing. And yet Lejduk himsell sees this project as a turning
point in his work÷"a commentary not only on commentary lut
ol my essential leliel in the reductive attitude`÷which suggests
that the radical lack we leel with regard to this project is quite
1he Cemetery lor the Ashes ol 1hought precisely
constructs an elementary diagram ol desire. according to which
the unavailalility or interdiction ol a desired olject÷in this
case the thought that is loth dematerialized and symlolized in
the ashes÷lecomes an attracting void ol enormous signihcance.
1he potter shapes the void that produces the prospect ol lullness.
Lacan cites Leidegger regarding the primordial signiher that
creates the void. "1he existence ol the emptiness at the center ol
the real that is called the 1hing. this emptiness as represented in
the representation presents itsell as a o.|.|. as nothing.`
1he 1hing (u.o¸). while not a major concept in Freud`s own
work. is lundamental in Lacan (leginning in 8eminar \II).
Freud introduces the 1hing in the "Judging and Bememlering`
section ol the .8p¡ "Project lor a 8cientihc Psychology` (not
pullished until .p¡c). where he analyzes the suljective consti-
tution ol the knowledge ol reality. locusing on the "primary
perceptive complex.` or |-!-om-os.| complex. the primary
sulject- olject encounter. In one ol his most Kantian moments.
Freud argues that the work ol judgment aims at a state ol identity
letween drive and olject. that the |-!-om-os.| complex is re-
solved when cognition (í·|-oo-o) reduces the other to the same
John Hejduk, Cemetery for the
Ashes of Thought, 1975, elevation
showing Mulino Stucky building
to the right and Wall House 3 in the
lagoon to the left.
E R C O I R 1 E B 105
John Hejduk, Cemetery for the
Ashes of Thought, 1975,
aerial perspective sketch showing
the cemetery on the Giudecca.
Canadian Centre for Architecture.
E R C O I R 1 E B 107
in the event ol judgment. 1he child`s alility to cognize. then.
depends on the child`s relationship to the |-!-om-os.|÷"lellow
human- leing` in the 8tandard Edition translation. "the hrst sat-
islying olject` according to Freud. which is to say the mother in
the hrst instance. lut the mother seen in a startlingly dillerent
lrame. lor the |-!-om-os.| is also a threat and an enemy. "das
erste leindliche Oljekt.` "Proximate creature` may le a letter
approximation. lor lrom the start there is a disturlance in this
relationship. which splits the |-!-om-os.| into "two components.
ol which one makes an impression ly its constant structure and
stays together as a ·|.o¸ [a|s u.o¸]. while the other can le under-
stood ly the activity ol memory÷that is. can le traced lack to
inlormation lrom [the sulject`s] own lody.`
Lacan glosses the
two components ol the |-!-om-os.| complex. hrst. as 1as u.o¸.
the part that "remains together as a thing` lut alien ("-o·¡·-m1-·.
something strange to me. although it is at the heart ol me`). and
second. as le·s·-||oo¸-o. the system ol representations or signi-
hers through which the |-!-om-os.| can le ·-m-m!-·-1. Lacan
stresses vigorously that this particular nameless olject (or lrame
ol an olject. an olject thus set up). 1as u.o¸. is the primary olject
on which is grounded all possille sulject- olject relations and.
equally. the empty site that remains when entry into the 8ymlolic
is complete. "uas u.o¸ is at the center only in the sense that it is
excluded. 1hat is to say. in reality 1as u.o¸ has to le posited as
exterior. as the pre- historic Other that is impossille to lorget.`
It is crucially important lor us that Lacan`s meditation on 1as
u.o¸ in 8eminar \II is constitutively involved with his most sus-
tained discussion ol aesthetics. 1o encounter the aesthetic olject
is to experience the uncanny proximity ol the exterior in the most
interior. which is nothing less than a lit ol the Beal at the very
center ol 8ymlolic order. Furthermore. Lacan uses architecture
as his primary example ol this encounter. citing the ancient
temple as "a construction around emptiness that designates
the place ol the 1hing.`
Le might just as well have cited Lejduk`s
In the Cemetery lor the Ashes ol 1hought. the u.o¸ component
ol Lacan`s split encounter is represented (the 1hing is something
"only a representation can represent`) ly the missing texts÷the
1hought. the central olject ol \estern culture that cannot le sig-
nihed even as it is the event horizon ol all signihcation. that must
le continually "relound` lut is "never there in the hrst place to
le lost.` in comparison with which all other oljects will le more
1he 1hing recalls us to trauma. Freud
says that it announces itsell in a scream (o-oo -s s.|·-.·) that
recalls me to my own screaming (and the larlarism ol Razi look
lurnings echoes across the Giudecca). A prelinguistic allect. it
can present itsell only to the extent that it lecomes unspoken
word. ashes ol thought. otherwise. it resists altogether any attempt
at comprehension. since the codes lor its cognition simply do not
exist. \all Louse 3. |-!-om-os.|÷the proximate character. leside
lut apart÷thus lecomes an integral part ol this template. lor the
\all Louse gives up its meaning as le·s·-||oo¸-o. through memory.
as we have seen. It remains an olject outside that nevertheless
creates that outside. where it too will thus appear alien. ungrasp-
alle. even cruel. insolar as it can le actualized only ly memories
sometimes painlul. For Lejduk. it is not simply the loss ol some
original Architecture that creates a desire to recover it. Bather. it
is the desire to hll the emptiness or void at the core ol the architec-
tural 8ymlolic that produces (retrospectively. lrom the outside in.
as it were) the very olject- cause ol desire itsell÷Architecture.
not in actuality lut in ellect. Il this is not the lesson ol the Cemetery
lor the Ashes ol 1hought. then it holds none.
S.o.- :,,¸ l-o..- |as ¡·-e..o¡.-1 ·|- oa·o·- e¡ m, oe·|.
l· .s a ¡e·om e¡ m, .oo-· a·¸om-o·s. !|- ·|eo¸|·s |a.- ·e
1e o.·| ío·e¡- ao1 4m-·..a. a!s··a.·.eo ao1 |.s·e·...sm.
E R C O I R 1 E B 109
·|- .o1...1oa| ao1 ·|- .e||-.·..-. ¡·--1em ao1 ·e·a|.·a·.-
ao.sm. ·|- .e|e·s !|a.|. o|.·-. ¸·-,. s.|-o.- ao1 s¡--.|.
·|- |.·-·a| ao1 ·|- am!.¸oeos. oa··a·..- ao1 ¡e-··,. ·|-
e!s-·.-· ao1 ·|- e!s-·.-1. . . . l sos¡-.· .o ·|-s- ¡as·
¡eo· ,-a·s m, a·.|.·-.·o·- |as me.-1 ¡·em ·|- 4·.|.-
·-.·o·- e¡ 0¡·.m.sm` ·e o|a· l .a|| ·|- 4·.|.·-.·o·- e¡
1his statement is lrom the text accompanying 1hirteen \atch-
towers ol Cannaregio (.p¸p)÷a project that makes up a trilogy.
with 8ilent \itnesses (.p¸6) and the Cemetery lor the Ashes ol
1hought. around the unassimilalle architectural 1hing. It is as
precise an account as any ol Lejduk`s work around .p¸p. and it
can stand as a list ol his concerns as his attention moves lrom the
City trilogy outward in a series ol projects called the "masques.`
In the tradition ol the Italian mas.|-·a and the lestival architec-
ture ol Inigo Jones. the masques propose various interacting
human inhalitants and architectural characters÷architectural
trouladours. vagalonds. and itinerants÷that travel in caravans
lrom city to city (Berlin. \ladivostok. Lancaster. Lanover). twisting
the mundane urlanism ol their sites into carnivalesque narrative
encounters. 1he taking ol place is the masques` very mode ol
leing. Hore daringly than the \all Louse or the Cemetery. the
masques open a lens onto architecture`s otherness. as Lejduk
legins to catalog the multiple. idiosyncratic recodings ol architec-
tural elements. his menagerie ol angels. animals. martyrs. and
machines. his stylistic prelerence lor lasic geometric lorms and
elemental liomorphism (luildings that seem to have hair. leaks.
eyes. and legs). comlined with typological variations on theaters.
periscopes. lunnels. traps. chapels. and lalyrinths. his thematic
explorations ol lalls lrom grace. itinerancy. passage. and trans-
lormation. and his leliel in architecture as sanctuary÷lor art.
culture. the enduring rituals that mark us as human. and lor
the human spirit itsell÷though olten sanctuary is developed in
darker ways too. lor these temporary villages and their characters
also reler to the walled ghettos and golems ol European cities and
the westward colonizing caravans ol Rorth America.
In the masques. the sulject- olject distinction. already dis-
turled in the \all Louses and Cemetery. is utterly collapsed.
Alter all. anything that can stand upright on legs and look at you
(as many ol the units lrom the masques do) can lay claim to a more
complex mode ol leing than a mere aesthetic olject. Horeover.
the inhalitants ol Lejduk`s chosen cities are deterritorialized
into their vocations (the workers. the dwellers. the lutter women.
the lank key man. lor example). Buildings likewise are inter-
changealle pieces ol mechanical equipment. wheels and pulleys
that grind and creak. that are always on the move. and the city
itsell lecomes a smooth space ol surrealist amliance and shilt-
ing moods that. like the \all. registers past events and projects
possille luture ones. Lejduk`s masques and their urlan settings
seem to reciprocally presuppose one another. even il they must
remain quite independent and even contradictory. \e are in
the realm ol the "as il.` lor nothing is typical (typological) now.
everything is only |.|- something else.
In his cities ol artihcial excavation Eisenman strives to hnd an
architecture ol pure trace. which ellaces itsell lelore the theory.
the critique. and the thought it is asked to convey. \e might call
this a philosophical paradigm lor architecture. By way ol this
comparison. Lejduk`s model is a literary one. which tends toward
the opposite direction÷toward an accumulation ol dillerent
types ol discourses or relerences or items in all their messy opacity
and relractivity (one thinks ol Borges`s impossille Chinese tax-
onomy ol animals÷"those that lelong to the Emperor. emlalmed
ones. those that are trained. suckling pigs. mermaids. lalulous
ones. . . .`÷incompatille categories compressed onto the same
plane). Or Bossi. Lis City. we saw. has an alterward÷a persistence
E R C O I R 1 E B 111
that enacts dillerent uses. perceptual systems. and understand-
ings ol its enduring types÷lut also a lelore÷a luilt- in possilility
ol leing repeated. On this comparison. Lejduk introduces a
more radical dimension ol heterogeneity into the construction ol
repetition. Bossi instructs us that a type never presents itsell only
once. in order to le typological. an element must le recognizally
the same over time. must le comparalle with earlier and later
instances ol itsell. But there is something in Lejduk`s repetitions
that cannot le wholly alsorled into the identihcation ol the same.
1here is something that stalls. arrests. something that won`t go
through. it remains. it lothers. it haunts. Ierrida. to return to his
classic essay on repetition. calls this something |- ·-s·-. translated
as "remainder` lut also as "the rest`÷all that is dillerential to sell-
sameness. In Lacanian terminology. the oljects are "extimate`.
1as u.o¸. the void ol the Cemetery. is now contained within the
most intimate encounters with the oljects
remainder that cannot le managed ly symlolization.
\e perceive the exorlitance ol the masques in part as amliance.
mood. allect÷as narrative systems ol time and space that produce
a distinctive phenomenal "leel` ol places we may have actually
visited lut that remain intractally alien. 1he masques. perhaps
like no other architecture. insist that we ponder certain questions.
\hat is the relation ol suljective action to its oljective context¨
Ioes the context produce events. or is it mere lackground¨ Is a
luilding an environment or an individual¨ Are suljects hxed. or
are they replacealle. exchangealle. momentary¨ Is it possille
lor events to le repeated or reversed¨ Is time open to multiple
interpretations. or is it scripted in advance¨ Is there a concept ol
pullic time and space. ol the collective as opposed to the private
narrative¨ Indeed. are Lejduk`s narratives ol troupes and carni-
vals so private and so out ol time and place. anachronic and
anatopic. that they overspin what may count lor a proper and
John Hejduk, Berlin Masque,
E R C O I R 1 E B 113
E R C O I R 1 E B 115
John Hejduk, Berlin Masque,
Amid us in the world we too easily take to le real are lorces that
distort the authentic nature ol things÷llasting things into lalse
components. holding each separate. not allowing them to touch.
olstructing the smooth alhliations they should rightly maintain.
1he conceptual distinction letween lormal alstraction and hgu-
ration so popular in architectural circles in the .p¸cs and .p8cs
is one result ol such distorting lorces÷the lalse notion that there
can le one set ol lorms (grids. columns. planes. and the like) that.
opaque to any meaning other than sell- refexivity. do not repre-
sent anything. and another set that relers to something outside.
that is transparent to a reality lut only insolar as the lorms repeat
what already exists. Lejduk lilerates his oljects lrom the stric-
tures ol such categorization with results that are uncanny. even
John Hejduk, Security, from the Victims
series, 1986. “These elements will be
moved from place to place. The townspeople
of one place will move the elements to
the next designated place into the hands
of the receiving townspeople.”
E R C O I R 1 E B 117
Honstrous is a word lrequently heard in discussions ol Lejduk`s
work. Lere it means the relusal ol the categorizations alstract or
hgurative. opaque or transparent. singular or typical. it means
the reinscription ol modernist opacity lack into representation
itsell. lut the mask also represents a situation that did not exist
lelore its representation. Il the modernist olject stages the scene
ol the olject`s own production and consumption. estranging the
experience and laying lare the device. then the extimate olject
opens to the event in which the radical unavailalility ol the Beal
is experienced. 1ake. lor example. the Crossover Bridge ol the
Berlin Hasque series. It is a primary hgure. an archetype. a lridge
(not unlike Bossi`s Ponte a Bellinzona ol .p¸¡). Every lormal
decision can le explained in terms either ol its lunction÷a
lighted passage to get across the street÷or as a constructive ele-
mentalism÷a geometry ol tectonic components. instrumental
and unamliguous in their determination. ¥et it is so olviously
a creature. somehow lamiliar lut unnamalle÷green and spiky.
unlettered ly instrumental demands or lormal concerns as it
grazes unaware at the edge ol \ilhelmstrasse. Old distinctions
and categories are ol no use here. Lejduk reluses the verticality
ol thought that separates alstraction and representation. the
lunctional and the lantastic. luildings and animals into dillerent
registers. Lis chronotope is horizontal and associative. this and
this and this. In it. "alstraction` (though it is wrong to continue
to call it that) has a hgural vocation. and lunction consorts with
Angels. I suppose. are monsters too ol a sort. Particularly sensual
angels are characteristic inhalitants ol Lejduk`s chronotope.
positioned at the threshold ol events. lumlling over their lalu-
lously unlounded lodies to announce that something is alout to
happen÷that a new world can le made. lut not yet. we have to
wait lecause we have not yet hnished destroying the old one. \e
hrst have to chop up the old world into squares and triangles and
circles and put those lack together as hair and leaks and lunnels
and hooded eyes. lecause these last are more promiscuous as
visual analogues. more likely to aggregate into unpredictalle
constellations. to sponsor unprecedented uses. And the very
theatricality ol these elements must le emphasized. lor it is
the theatrical and aleatory nature ol this propped- up architecture
that lurther lleeds oll the autonomy and heroic monumentality
ol lorm. Lejduk`s chronotope contains no conventional monu-
mentality. lor it lacks the stalility. permanence. and memory nec-
essary lor monuments. 1hink again. ly way ol contrast. ol Bossi`s
analogous city. sedimented out ol centuries ol \estern culture. in
which architecture is the materialization ol that cultural memory.
1he air in Lancaster- Lanover is much thinner. the weather ol
\ladivostok is a vaporous. luminous. angelic time- space. the space
created at the moment ol the encounter. determined ly architec-
ture`s gaze ("It seemed a curious mixture that simply made do
with time. weather and these peoples`).
\ladivostok. Biga. Berlin. Lancaster have all undergone a kind ol
1-¡a,s-m-o· or deterritorialization that opens up the scene lor
unloreseen events. Inder the skies ol Lake Baikal. angels re-
hearse the states ol lecoming something else while some ol us on
the ground perhaps worry overmuch to solve what we already are
(architecture at its lest has always leen a practice ol dissatislac-
tion with the way things are and has always made llueprints lor
something else). Lejduk`s angels also nod to Hikhail Bakhtin`s
"grotesque lody`÷the lody ol carnival. the pre- Lenten revelry
whose Iionysian potentials are most lully developed in Balelais.
according to Bakhtin. and recuperated in Bakhtin`s glorihcation
ol "the material lodily lower stratum` ol eating. drinking. del-
ecation. copulation. swallowing. and regurgitation.
angelic mode. too. lavors a lody that transgresses its own limits.
celelrating a sell- unity lost to the Other. Hore than an attractive
metaphor. the angel should therelore le understood as a primary
E R C O I R 1 E B 119
hgure in Lejduk`s economy ol desire. For isn`t the angel÷envoy
ol the lig Other÷the ultimate e!¡-· a¨
A plaque learing Bolle- Grillet`s remark alout the work ol
Kalka lamously hung in John Lejduk`s olhce. "1he hallucinatory
ellect derives lrom the extraordinary clarity and not lrom mystery
or mist. Rothing is more lantastic ultimately than precision.`
Part ol one`s attraction to. lut also dismay in the lace ol. the
characters ol the masques is the incommensuralle distance
letween the precision and hneness ol the drawings÷the clarity
and elhciency with which they descrile the geometry and tectonics
ol oljects are so controlled as to le almost cold. engineered.
mechanical÷and the depth and complexity ol emotion they
conjure. All ol the literature on Lejduk`s work points in some
way to this latter ellect. 8ome writers claim to le alle to channel
through his oljects the most horrilying ol modernity`s lorces
(the project \ictims [.p86] comprising 6¸ entities surely relers to
a concentration camp). Others hnd joyous. almost comic enclo-
sures to protect them or distract them lrom the same. 8urely.
somehow. loth are right. For what these otherwise opposing
perceptions share is an existential uncertainty generated ly the
allective precision ol the architecture itsell. the recognition ol
the lact that our cultural identities. our very loundations. are
outside ourselves. in the clusters ol images and codes through
which we are culturally apprehended. As with Lacan`s gaze. which
he once termed "the presence ol others as such.` so with Lejduk`s
masques. in loth we conlront the lact that our suljectivity depends
on the symlolic ratihcation ol the Other and how we take our
place in that encounter.
\hen we recognize that we exist as suljects only ly and lor
some Other with whom we can have no audience. we may react
with lear. even guilt. lut also. perhaps. with renewed amlition
and determination. Interestingly. Jean- Paul 8artre`s 8-.o¸ ao1
|e·|.o¸o-ss ol .p¡3. lrom which Lacan draws his own meditations
on the gaze. characterizes this decentering ol the sell in terms ol
an insistently Christian thematics. our sell- dehnition. our depen-
dency on the Other. is a lapse into a "lallen` state that is registered
as a visual exchange letween sulject and olject. a certain lailure
is a requisite ol redemption.
Hore than any other contemporary
architect. Lejduk lroods on our lall lrom grace. on constitutive
alsence and the necessity ol loss. on our possille redemption.
and how these can le hgured in the moment ol architecture. 1he
architecture ol Christ`s cross lecomes Lejduk`s hgure lor such
themes. "\hat always interests me in the old paintings ol the
crucihxion is the construction ol the cross. Low the cross was
constructed. Low it was detailed. I think it is important to know.`
But. ol course. it`s not alout construction alone. Lejduk is aware
that the cross was interpreted ly Hondrian in a mystical sense.
while Le Corlusier and Loos saw in it an erotics at the level ol the
mark. As well as leing spatially and tectonically precise. the sim-
plest and most elementary mark. the cross is the locus ol the
themes ol individuality and collectivity. unspeakalle loss and
humlling plenitude. which Lejduk returns to again and again in
his later work. 1he cross is the mark ol the lelt loss ol architec-
ture`s original. divine mission ol lounding a promised land÷a
church on solid ground÷and the necessary covering over ol the
site ol that loss. masking it with architecture itsell.
1he cross is
the architectural 1hing that materializes unlathomalle myster-
ies (virgin lirth. incarnation. resurrection) and unattainalle
cultural enjoyments. the kernel around which the sulject can
only circle. 8omewhere among these attrilutes are suggestions
that may explain why Lejduk. in his last works. turned to an
overtly religious imagery. lut without ever swerving lrom his ex-
perimentation with architecture`s most lasic elements and
deepest structures. Perhaps it is the cross rather than the square
or the diamond that is architecture`s most primitive lorm. It is.
no doult. the most prolound architectural element in Lejduk`s
E R C O I R 1 E B 121
terms ol a doulle articulation ol lormal and tectonic development
together with viewer- sulject construction÷the degree zero ol
the architectural sign. And it is under the sign ol the cross that
Lejduk lrings his image- screen. his elevational chronotope. to
its hnal lorm.
Lejduk`s conviction that architecture produces encounters
with collective cultural memories. that it deals lundamentally
with the lragility ol physical and spiritual sanctuary. and that the
sulject and olject ol architecture are engaged in reciprocal ad-
dress and constitution÷all these themes are lrought to an awe-
some intensity in his last works. Lis hrst steps toward that are
radically architectural. layering lorm upon lorm and manipulating
them to a maximum. Cathedral is the most complex single olject
ol his career. gathering up the most signihcant ol his prior lor-
mal inventions and repeating and collapsing them onto a simple
rectangular volume. Or perhaps it is a thick wall. with all the
leing- together ol diverse elements on the vertical plane that his
\all apparatus captures. 1he original Berlin Hasque luilding
(which itsell cannilalizes the Betreat Hasque and \all Louse 3)
operates as Cathedral`s armature. \arious other characters lrom
the Berlin Hasque are there. \all Louse 3 reappears. now as one
element ol another wall. several small chapels and single- volume
units accrue to the elevations. the Collapse ol 1ime tower is on
the rool. and the various Horandi- like light canons. lunnels. and
tules that he experimented with in his architectural still liles
return. Cathedral seems to have leen intended as a summation.
and in this regard it is telling that just alter the Canadian Centre
lor Architecture completed the model ol Cathedral. Lejduk legan
working on A Gathering. his unhnished site plan lor a giant
masque (or perhaps the masque has lecome the entire town) that
was to contain the lootprint ol every project he ever made. It is
as il in these works he is cataloging all the ways he had tried
momentarily to arrest the unlocalizalle architectural gaze.
John Hejduk, Cathedral, 1996, sketch.
Canadian Centre for Architecture.
E R C O I R 1 E B 123
But given Lejduk`s penchant lor linary conceptual organiza-
tions. is it not also signihcant that he was working at the same
time on the series ol thirty- two Enclosures¨
\e know lrom
correspondence that he considered Enclosures to le among
the most important ol his last works. Are they related in some
way to Cathedral¨ 8ynthesizing the apocalyptic scenes ol the
tenth- century Horgan Beatus. Giotto`s Sa.o· í·ao..s cycle. and.
at the other end ol art historical time. Barnett Rewman`s zip
paintings. exploring penetrations through walls and occupations
ol single- room sanctuaries. creating landscapes interlused and
haunted ly oljects. Enclosures compresses some ol Lejduk`s
lavorite themes into astonishingly simple gestures. Il Cathedral
is architecture`s maximization. Enclosures is the alsolute reduc-
tion and essentialization leyond which his architecture could not
go. Accumulation is one way ol making manilest the structures
and codes that underlie perception. an end- ol- the- line strategy
in which an array ol variations on a theme make the theme more
precise. 1he reuse. again and again. ol \all Louse 3÷in Cemetery
lor the Ashes ol 1hought. in Berlin Hasque. and its hnal return in
Cathedral÷is an example ol this sort ol pondering. But alter the
early Iiamond Louses and \all Louses. Lejduk tried to reach
through this sort ol complexity ol accrual÷the complexity that
results lrom the piling up ol lorm in Cathedral or A Gathering÷to
a place leyond the end ol the line. where one might glimpse the
loundations ol lormalization itsell. And lor that. synthesis and
reduction are necessary÷the kind ol peeling away ol lorm evi-
dent in Enclosures that seeks the matrix leneath. 1he Enclosures
can le placed in Lejduk`s schema. chronologically and logically.
as the second term ol a linary that legins with the Cathedral.
as the dialectical opposition along the same axis ol summation
and closure. the necessary complementary device lor his post-
E R C O I R 1 E B 125
Low are we to read the Enclosures¨ In a set ol drawings called
8anctuary. now held in the Henil Collection. and another set lor
a project entitled Chapel. \edding ol the Hoon and the 8un.
given ly Lejduk to Charles Gwathmey. all made alter Cathedral
and Christ Chapel and prolally just lelore Enclosures. there are
several sketches ol sanctuaries and chapels. triangular in plan.
with crucihxes suspended at various angles. "I desired the most
simple structure lor the space and its relationship.` writes Lejduk
in his explanation ol Chapel. And indeed it is as il his early diagram
ol the origin ol the space ol the present (the translormation ol
the diamond into a vertical plane shown in hgure ¡..) has now
lound a hnal variant ol its lorm. neither diamond nor wall lut the
stage in letween÷a diamond in the process ol fattening. a
diamond- lecoming- wall. As did the diamond in plan and the
wall in elevation. now the simple triangular space lunctions volu-
metrically to produce the dialectical relationship letween depth
and fatness. But the diagrams ol this space resemlle nothing so
much as Lacan`s diagram ol the gaze. ol vision turned lack on itsell.
And the cross suspended in the triangular chapel and lacklit ly
sunlight locused through a sunlurst- shaped window. notwith-
standing its clear and undenialle Christian meanings. lunctions
primarily as a \all- like apparatus. Lacan`s 1em¡·-- ·-¸a·1÷an
image- screen or mask that loth locuses and tames the architec-
tural gaze and mediates the sheer power ol cumulative spatial
experience into a lorm loth semllalle and strange. For this is not
an ordinary Christian icon. something is leing done to the cru-
cihx. and it is leing done a·.|.·-.·o·a||, (just as in the Iiamond
Louses. the \all Louses. and the Collapse ol 1ime). ly tilting
planes through space. ly setting up impossille orders (astronomic
alignments. lor example). ly confating incommensuralle worlds.
all ol which challenge our optical- geometrical mastery ol space
and install os. as well. in the larger picture. Lejduk`s crucihx is
analogous to devices other artists have used when a powerlul
E R C O I R 1 E B 127
[two parts] John Hejduk, Chapel, Wedding
of the Moon and Sun, 1998, sketch.
Collection of Charles Gwathmey.
E R C O I R 1 E B 129
technique had to le lrought to some sort ol closure. to an also-
lute inwardness or. equally. to an alsolute exteriority÷extimacy.
Consider. lor example. the las· So¡¡-· ol Leonardo. where the
vanishing point ol the Benaissance`s perspective system pierces
the halo ol Christ. or the way Halevich hung his 8|a.| S¸oa·- like
an icon across the corner ol the gallery in the "c..c` exhilition. or
Le Corlusier`s 0¡-o uao1. or Bolert \ilson`s :¸ S·a·.eos. or !|-
S·a·.eos e¡ ·|- 6·ess ly Rewman. whom Lejduk particularly ad-
mired. 1he point is that religious imagery has historically provided
art with the most widely understandalle code lor its attempts at
transcending this unsatislactory world or proposing some other to
put in its place. By the time ol Enclosures. Lejduk`s architecture
had outgrown the lormal system he had spent his lile developing.
Le had to hnd a new device ol signihcation to progress leyond it.
Or. perhaps. a very old one.
1here is one reading ol Enclosures. then. that is too literal lut
nonetheless correct. that they are analogues and elalorations ol
Lejduk`s cross. 1he Enclosures are scenes that one might view
as murals in Lejduk`s various chapels. they are the stained- glass
windows ol the sanctuaries. the luminous memlranes that sepa-
rate worlds with managealle encodings ol the 1hing we cannot
lear to lehold. 1he Enclosures are the \all. whose anthropomor-
phic luilding parts hovering in air have now lecome human.
the spiky hair ol the Berlin Hasque creatures is now a crown ol
thorns. the \- shaped rools have lecome angel wings. the horned
creatures ol Huseum ol \ar and Peace have evolved into lulls.
the triangular plan is tilted up vertically like a culist`s talle. 1he
actors are sandwiched and separated ly thin registers. allowing
angels and lulls. martyrs and mourners to slide past one another.
while the architecture minimally lrames their movements÷
invoking its pre- perspectival. narrative vocation in medieval
painting. to provide the setting in which the action can le played
E R C O I R 1 E B 131
out. Enclosures is Lejduk`s answer to Giotto`s Sa.o· í·ao..s series.
with its foating Christ. holy rays. and spewing stigmata. And to Le
Corlusier. who wrote. "I have not experienced the miracle ol laith
lut I have olten known the miracle ol inexpressille space.`
Hore precisely. the Enclosures are the traits ol Architecture`s
gaze hrst sought lor in the Iiamond Louses and \all Louses.
the nearly theological revelation ol architecture`s history (pre-
perspectival space through culist space. up to the present). the
inscription ol otherness in the held ol vision. the lace that looks
lack at us. the mask and the masque that suldue and negotiate
meanings and experiences too awesome lor us to see directly.
"1he lace crystallizes all redundancies. it emits and receives.
releases and recaptures signilying signs. It is a whole lody unto
itsell. it is like the lody ol the center ol signihance [the process
ol signihcation] to which all ol the deterritorialized signs alhx
themselves. and it marks the limit ol their deterritorialization. . . .
1he lace is what gives the signiher sulstance. . . . 1he mask does
not hide the lace. it .s the lace.`
1his passage is lrom Ieleuze
and Guattari`s chapter on "laciality.` the name given to the condi-
tion or production ol a specihc. though provisional. authorization
and regulation ol visual images out ol a prolileration ol signihca-
tion and suljectihcation. And it could also descrile Lejduk`s
last works. Like the \all. the lace is conceived as a signilying
surlace. "8ignihance is never without a white wall upon which
it inscriles its signs and redundancies.`
the polyvocality ol signs and the constructedness ol suljects
even as it draws on and retains some ol their excessive potential.
In Lejduk`s case. the "laciality` ol Enclosures was necessary to
oppose and contain the limitless signihcation ol Cathedral. nec-
essary to overcome the entropy inherent in such an endlessly
circulating lormal system as his.
John Hejduk, bird’s- eye view of
structures overlooking Cathedral
E R C O I R 1 E B 133
In his last works. Lejduk lound himsell lacing contradictions
letween a dream ol lullness ol experience and prolundity ol
meaning. on the one hand. and a vision ol the real limits ol what
architecture can do. the lack luilt into its representational system.
1he Enclosures mark the limit condition ol architectural signi-
hcation and coordinate an entire regime ol loss and desired
redemption. which the Christian imagery helps to represent.
Ieleuze and Guattari also put the lace ol Christ in the center ol
laciality`s regime. Christ is the \estern cultural gaze. the writer
ol codes. the standard against which variation and deviation are
measured÷my semllalle and my stranger. And lacialization is
ellected. at least in part. ly stigmata. the trace ol a limit condition.
Faciality is the visille mark ol pathos lut also the promise ol
getting leyond it (didn`t the resurrected. translormed Christ
admonish 1homas to prole the wound that had guaranteed
mankind`s salvation¨). 1he Enclosures are the architectural
stigmata on the corpus ol Lejduk`s work. 1hey trace a certain
lailure or loss÷the moment in which architecture glimpses its
inadequacy÷lut they hold out the possilility ol new orders and
perceptions. "Row is the time lor drawing angels.` Lejduk insisted.
the time lor keeping that possilility always in sight.
8 P A C I R G 135
But an overemphasis on architecture’s wounds obscures the jouissance with
which the stigmata are received. Aware ol the lundamental lack at the
center ol architecture. Bernard 1schumi pursued "the pleasure ol
architecture` (which was the title ol an early essay and could le the
lalel lor his e-o.·- .em¡|-·-). tracking an architectural experience ol
a dillerent kind than we have seen thus lar. Like others ol the late
avant- garde. though. he proled architecture at its ontological
loundary. And there. at the limits ol the architectural 8ymlolic.
the Beal makes itsell lelt not in the sulstance lut rather in the lail-
ures and duplicities ol the architectural signiher. As 1schumi put
it. "Behind all masks lie 'dark` and unconscious streams that can-
not le dissociated lrom the pleasure ol architecture. 1he mask may
exalt appearances. ¥et ly its very presence. it says that. in the
lackground. there is 'something else.``
1schumi. perhaps more
lully than any other ol the late avant- garde. recognized that the
"something else`÷the architectural Beal÷is loth the hard. impen-
etralle core that resists discursive appropriation (it is prior to
symlolization) and at the same time the exorlitant emptiness that
remains alter symlolization is complete (even as it is produced ly
symlolization itsell). Its issue. therelore. is loth trauma and jou-
issance (a sullering enjoyed). And it can never le translated or
rendered knowalle as a positivity. this architectural Beal. lut only
experienced through an unassimilalle. negative Other÷spaced out
and projected lackward. as it were. out ol its own structural ellects.
In a set ol essays written in .p¸¡÷.p¸6. 1schumi takes account
ol the state ol architectural discourse at that time and stakes out
a territory in the held that he lelieves he can productively occupy.
In particular. the essays are a meditation on the opposition le-
tween architecture as a product ol the mind÷a conceptual and
dematerialized discipline with its own consistent logic÷and
architecture as the sensual experience and practice ol space÷
a spatial ¡oo.·om that resists and exceeds study and analysis.
whose status is lundamentally corporeal and contingent. In the
earliest ol the essays. "Questions ol 8pace. 1he Pyramid and the
Lalyrinth (or the Architectural Paradox).` 1schumi lormulates
the sell- designation and refexivity ol architecture`s autonomy
thesis hrst in Legelian terms. as an image ol 6-.s·`s progressive
attempts to overcome matter. architecture is ly its nature involved
with luilding lut not reducille to luilding (think ol the ancient
pyramids as proclaiming or symlolizing the presence ol an inner
entity. a spirit and concept. to which their luilt lorm is mani-
lestly extrinsic). Architecture is an "artistic supplement.` a set
ol concepts added to the image and experience ol a luilding. Or
conversely. as 1schumi puts it. the "lunctional and technical
characteristics ol a house or a temple [are] the means to an end
that excluded those very characteristics.`
By .p¸¡ we could recognize that architecture is. alove all. the
production ol experiences and concepts and not necessarily just
ol luilt oljects. But 1schumi also insisted on the paradox that il
architecture is a specihc kind ol imagination (an intimate llend ol
sensing. imaging. and conceptualization). which schematizes the
world in irreducilly architectural ways. it is also a particular kind
ol Imaginary. which produces a particular kind ol desire (that is.
Architecture). which hnds its way to the surlace ol representation
in a surprising variety ol practices and expressions. Architecture.
then. has everything to do with a particular impulse hnding its
representation÷and therely its sensual expression and lilidinal
8 P A C I R G 137
investment÷in dillerent media. and is only contingently related
to the composition ol a luilding. Lence the paradox ol the time.
that through imaging and conceptualization "the architect could
hnally achieve the sensual satislaction that the making ol mate-
rial oljects no longer provided.`
1schumi was thinking alout
Legel. Kant. Lacan. and Barthes at a time when the ruling doc-
trine ol lunctionalism was leing dismantled. lut he is thinking
|.|- the Adorno ol the essay "Functionalism 1oday`. "8pace and
the sense ol space can lecome more than impoverished purpose
only when imagination impregnates them with purposelulness.
lma¸.oa·.eo !·-a|s eo· e¡ ·|- .mmao-o· .eoo-.·.eos e¡ ¡o·¡es-. ·e
o|..| .· eo-s .·s .-·, -r.s·-o.-.`
It is the last sentence. ol course.
where the dialectic lursts open a conception ol architecture as
more than either lunction or thing. that resonates with 1schumi`s
lormulation ol lunction and technique as "the means to an end
that excluded those very characteristics.`
\hile such a postlunctionalist. pro- conceptual declamation
captures the prevalent mood ol progressive architecture in the
mid- .p¸cs. 1schumi moves through his analysis to a more distinc-
tive conclusion. First. he poses the ideological dilemma ol the
autonomy project. which he seems almost alone in recognizing.
namely. "Il the architectural piece renounces its autonomy ly
recognizing its latent ideological and hnancial dependency. it
accepts the mechanisms ol society. Il it sanctuarizes itsell. in
an art- lor- art`s- sake position. it does not escape classihcation
among existing ideological compartments.`
autonomy thesis would only assure the entropy ol desire and the
disinvestment ol the lilidinal olject. Even the utopian energies ol
the radical architectures ol the .p6cs. especially Archizoom and
8uperstudio. with whom 1schumi clearly sympathizes. eventually
devolved into a "desperate attempt` to de- conceal the materials
and lorces ol ideology. "ironically verilying where the system
was going.` and thus lecoming (merely) ideological themselves.
By the time ol 1schumi`s writing. "architecture seemed to have
gained autonomy ly opposing the institutional lramework. But
in the process it had lecome the institutional opposition. thus
growing into everything it tried to oppose.`
1schumi meets this ideological dilemma with an Adorno- like
strategy ol negation. "8o architecture seems to survive only when-
ever it negates itsell. whenever it saves its nature ly negating the
lorm that society expects ol it. l oeo|1 ·|-·-¡e·- so¸¸-s· ·|a· ·|-·-
|as o-.-· !--o ao, ·-aseo ·e 1eo!· ·|- o-.-ss.·, e¡ a·.|.·-.·o·-. ¡e· ·|-
o-.-ss.·, e¡ a·.|.·-.·o·- .s .·s oeo- o-.-ss.·,. l· .s os-|-ss !o· ·a1..a||,
se. Its radicalism constitutes its very strength in a society where
proht is prevalent.` Le then nods to Adorno directly. "Bather
than an olscure artistic supplement or a cultural justihcation
lor hnancial manipulations. architecture is not unlike hreworks.
lor these 'empirical apparitions.` as Adorno puts it. 'produce a
delight that cannot le sold or lought. that has no exchange value
and cannot le integrated in the production cycle.``
deconstructs 1aluri`s assessment ol contemporary architecture`s
"sullime uselessness` ly radicalizing uselessness itsell. giving
uselessness a creative social lorce. 1here is no avant- garde that
is not only enalled lut also contained ly what it opposes. Even
transgression must le sanctioned as such in order to le ellective.
Long past is the possilility ol prescriling a renewed normality
lor architecture in terms ol lunction. perlormance. cultural
representation. or social service. Bather. we must now see the
conficts and discontents ol a discipline and a practice that. in
order to have a vocation at all in the cultural world. must reluse
unfinchingly to conlorm to cultural expectations. architecture`s
unhappy consciousness. 1schumi announces his conclusion with
all the lorce ol Legelian inevitalility.
8 P A C I R G 139
!|.s m-aos. .o -¡¡-.·. ·|a·. ¡-·|a¡s ¡e· ·|- ¡·s· ·.m- .o
|.s·e·,. a·.|.·-.·o·- .ao o-.-· !-. !|- -¡¡-.· e¡ ·|- ¸·-a·
!a··|-s e¡ se..a| ¡·e¸·ams .s e!|.·-·a·-1. ao1 se .s ·|-
s-.o·.·, e¡ a·.|-·,¡-s. u-¡o-1 !, .·s ¸o-s·.eo.o¸. a·.|.-
·-.·o·- .s ·|- -r¡·-ss.eo e¡ a |a.|. a s|e··.em.o¸. a oeo-
.em¡|-·.eo |la.ao`s manque a etre}. l· a|oa,s m.ss-s
sem-·|.o¸. -.·|-· ·-a|.·, e· .eo.-¡·. 4·.|.·-.·o·- .s !e·|
!-.o¸ ao1 oeo- !-.o¸. !|- eo|, a|·-·oa·..- ·e ·|- ¡a·a1er
.s s.|-o.-. a ¡oa| o.|.|.s·.. s·a·-m-o· ·|a· m.¸|· ¡·e..1-
me1-·o a·.|.·-.·o·a| |.s·e·, o.·| .·s o|·.ma·- ¡oo.||.o-.
.·s s-|¡- aoo.|.|a·.eo.
Architecture`s S-.o :om !e1-. But we already know ol desire`s lun-
damental relation to death. when architecture lollows its desire
to the limit condition. what opens up is a radical nonleing that
nevertheless is not a mere nothing.
1hat architecture. since it clearly had a leginning. might also
have an end is easy enough to conceptualize in the Legelian
scheme ol things. 1hat one might actively seek its end was made
all the more plausille when. in the .p6cs. we legan to locus on
the prolound complicity ol cultural institutions and university
systems. not to mention the construction and development in-
dustries. with state power and the perpetuation ol the status quo.
But 1schumi`s meditations on the Legelian supplement and the
death ol architecture. it seems to me. are less motivated ly the
end- ol- art delates. already well rehearsed il not over ly .p¸¡.
than ly a dillerent dawning awareness ol the particular historical
latedness ol architecture itsell÷ol a specihc cultural production.
perhaps the most deeply social ol all. now inevitally sullering its
own unique. historically determined recontainment. reterritori-
alization. and implosion alter more than two centuries ol opening.
transgression. and revolt. By .p¸¡÷in the lace ol devastating
economic recession. the hrst energy crisis. as well as the weariness
ol the \ietnam war÷architecture`s imminent end had lecome
less a matter ol willlul sell- annihilation than the lar less spec-
tacular lading away ol its social relevance compared to other
cultural practices (like hlm. video. graphic design. and visual
And yet. though architecture is necessarily transmitted ly a
sanctioned set ol texts and institutional practices. there is the
"something else` that remains lorever intractalle to that discursive
corpus. \hile the discourse ol autonomy in its weaker lorms
reduces architecture to the mere availalility ol preexisting ele-
ments and comlinatory techniques lrom some positive stock.
which can le used to produce or reproduce meaning. 1schumi
recognizes that architectural autonomy itsell must le volatilized.
that the internal and intimate must le exteriorized. Low. in other
words. could architecture lace its death in a way adequate to its
desire¨ Bossi`s transcendental. presuppositional structure ol the
City already tried to account lor the singularity ol the architec-
tural imagination. \hat 1schumi`s work will insist on is that
that structure. architecture`s lig Other. ly its very actuality in
architectural discourse is also always already delective. insulh-
cient÷"the expression ol a lack. a shortcoming. a noncompletion.`
1here is never enough meaning to close the gap opened ly the
Other. And it is precisely this insulhciency and uselessness ol
signihcation that corresponds to architectural jouissance÷a
particular sell- enclosed. autotelic moment in architecture that
is simultaneously architecture`s own undoing. "Jouissance is
lorlidden to he who speaks.` instructed Lacan.
8uch a dimen-
sion can have no identihalle olject as its relerent. it cannot le
included in the economy ol communication. it is not "alout
something`÷it can le understood only through the ellort ·e
8 P A C I R G 141
1o this end. in the last sections ol "1he Architectural Paradox`
1schumi ollers a lriel. tentative mention ol a possille alternative
to architecture`s sell- annihilation and silence. one that might
accelerate and intensily the architectural paradox rather than
mollily it. he calls it "experienced space.` which. more than a
perception or a concept ol space. is a process. a way ol practicing
space irreducille to the generalizing equivalence ol meaning
making÷an event. For 1schumi. -.-o· was a highly charged
term. it represented a reversal ol the olject- sulject hierarchy
ol contemporaneous architecture. and it was related loth to the
situationists` -.-o-m-o· ("whose symlolic and exemplary value
lay in their seizure ol urlan space and not in the design ol what
was luilt`) and to Georges Bataille`s -r¡-·.-o.- .o·-·.-o·- (the
pyramid and lalyrinth ol 1schumi`s title are lrom Bataille`s
í·e·...sm)÷two ol 1schumi`s emotional and intellectual role
models. who were largely unconsidered ly architects at the time.
Like Lejduk`s encounter with the architectural gaze. which also
signals a moment ol perception. -.-o· lor 1schumi involves a
material registration and condensation ol the role ol cultural.
historical. and economic determinants in architectural experi-
ence÷a radical singularity ol happening. Iillerent lrom Lejduk.
however. and importantly so. event now hgures as an ellect ol
architectural program and perlormance together with lorm.
rather than ol lorm alone. 1schumi later illustrates the notion ol
an event with examples ol "cross- programming` like pole vaulting
in a cathedral (the cathedral`s sectional disposition leing ex-
quisitely conducive to such misuse). licycling in the laundromat
(a \ertov- like montage ol intermoving circles). sky diving in the
elevator shalt. "Hurder [lunction] in the 8treet [lorm] dillers
lrom Hurder [same lunction] in the Cathedral [dillerent lorm]
. . . Badically.` 1schumi`s architecture ol events appears dialec-
tically as a possille third term letween the contradiction ol
autonomy and negation. not a dialectical resolution. it is. rather.
Bernard Tschumi, Advertisements
for Architecture (1 of 9 parts),
8 P A C I R G 143
a spacing out ol architecture`s autonomy and its negation to
make a place lor the architectural event. Indeed. it should reveal
the productivity ol that contradiction even as it dissolves it into
a space ol improvisation. variation. ramihcation. and dillerence.
It is this revelation (perhaps not too strong a word) that is an-
nounced in the early essays and that 1schumi`s sulsequent
At the same time 1schumi was writing "1he Architectural
Paradox.` he was also working on Advertisements lor Architecture.
a series ol postcard- sized montages ol image and text that included
relerences to Bataille. Jorge Luis Borges. 1ennessee \illiams.
1. 8. Eliot. a B- movie adaptation ol a Baymond Chandler story.
pleasure gardens. and londage scenes. 1wo ol the Advertisements
leatured photographs 1schumi had taken ol the \illa 8avoye in
.p6¡. while he was a student at the E1L in Iurich. where he lound
"the squalid walls ol the small service rooms on the ground foor.
stinking ol urine. smeared with excrement. and covered with
Low should we read these Advertisements¨
\hen they have leen read at all. they have leen seen as an explicit
alternative to the overprivileging ol pure. autonomous lorm ly
Aldo Bossi. Peter Eisenman. and others (known in the .p¸cs as
the "\hites`) and to Colin Bowe`s infuential prelerence lor the
uncorrupted. pristine ¡|,s.¸o-- fesh ol Le Corlusier. 8urely this
reading is correct as lar as it goes. 1schumi`s "Architecture and
1ransgression.` the text that accompanied the pullication ol
parts ol the Advertisements in 0¡¡es.·.eos ¸ in .p¸6. returns to
the themes ol "1he Architectural Paradox` and reintroduces the
transgressive eroticism ol Bataille explicitly against his contem-
porary Le Corlusier. "1he contradiction letween architectural
concept and sensual experience ol space resolves itsell at one
point ol tangency. ·|- ·e··-o ¡e.o· ['where glass meets mold.` as
one ol the Advertisements has it]. the very point that taloos and
culture have always rejected.`
But 1schumi augments this elsewhere. descriling the Adver-
tisements project in a slightly dillerent way as a notational device
to "trigger` the desire lor architecture÷not an architecture ol
oljects lut rather (acknowledging the central lack involved) ol a
"point ol tangency`. the emlodied jouissance leyond lorm`s
legilility. opened up in the lack ol its own signilying hnality.
8tressing the inevitalle commodihcation ol architecture`s image.
he queries the possilility ol detourning and accelerating rather
than resisting that inevitalility into an erotics ol architectural
perlormance. 1schumi writes. "1he usual lunction ol advertise-
ments . . . is to trigger desire lor something leyond the [image or
lorm] itsell. . . . As there are advertisements lor products. why
not advertisements lor architecture¨`
1his is advertising in
lilidinal terms÷intensities. perversions. transgression. and
violence÷lollowing Bataille. no doult. lut also the cultural
politics ol !-| ¸o-|. making art lrom the world "just as it is.` only
more so. pushing art through the channels ol commodity distrilu-
tion and perception in order to dialectically produce a new kind
ol perception and. at the limit ol the push. let art annihilate itsell
(once again conhrming the londs letween desire. transgression.
By replacing conventional architectural drawings with other
notational systems (here photographs and texts) that trigger or
open a space lor a possille architectural experience. Advertise-
ments lor Architecture throws into dilhculty the sorting through
ol the relays letween author. olject. perlormance. audience. and
so lorth. For example. is the author here 1schumi. Le Corlusier.
or those who smeared the excrement¨ Is the architectural content
already present lelore the photograph that reduplicates it. or is
content there only in the comlination ol photograph and text¨
Or is there no content at all. lut only an organization ol various
fows ol desire produced ly a specihc reader and then only in a
particular moment¨ 1schumi attempts to estallish architectural
8 P A C I R G 145
notation as a process ol telegraphic overproduction that is not
secondary to some luilding it denotes (as are conventional
architectural drawings) and has no predetermined relationship
to the architectural perlormance it solicits or triggers. 1he nota-
tional system simply lrames a space lor and sets in motion a
generalized architectural potential. an enalling condition
comprising a derivation (Le Corlusier`s villa) and distortion
(the photograph ol its squalid condition). an augmentation
(the captions). and. importantly. a gap÷a desire that must le
perlormed ly each reader ol these works. "It is not the clash
letween lragments ol architecture that counts.` instructs one
ol the Advertisements. "lut the invisille movement letween
them. Iesire.` Rot architecture itsell is ollered lut only evidence
that it exists. a proclamation ol existence made ly relusing
presence and evoking "something else.`
Jacques Lacan, L Schema.
1he peculiar visual machinery ol Advertisements corresponds
to that archaic stage ol sulject production Lacan termed the
Imaginary. 1he sulject ol desire here is nothing less than archi-
tecture itsell÷architecture as such. lut leyond the limit where.
as sulstance. it has already leen lost. Lacan`s so- called L 8chema
lrom í.·.·s lamously constructs the sulject ol desire as an ellect
ol a dynamic structure ol internal contradictions÷including a
relationship letween the sulject (8 on the top lelt in the graph).
the desired olject (a
. on the top right. the e!¡-· ¡-·.·- ao··-. deni-
zen ol the Imaginary). and that olject`s doulle. the ego (a under
8). which in this case can le understood to designate the Adver-
tisements` mimicry ol the commercialized. eroticized milieu in
which they have appeared. 1he system ol desire (indicated ly a
is opposed to the system ol identihcations (indicated ly a). 1he
shilting. refecting. doulled relationship letween the olject and
the olject- ellect that is the ego is indicated in the graph ly the
diagonal line. which must le read loth as a vector ol desire fow-
ing letween a and a
and also as having an implicit planar dimen-
sion. which is to say that it is also the image- screen ol Lacan`s
mirror stage. as is made explicit ly the lalel "imaginary relation.`
the interaction staged ly the mirror. \ritten into this schema.
Advertisements provides the oljects ol desire primarily as texts
and images. ol course. immanent to the works themselves÷the
"morselized` photographs ol the \illa 8avoye are nothing il not
e!¡-·s a. lut so are the ropes and latal lalls and movie relerences
(1schumi is an alsolute master at constructing appropriated im-
ages as intense lut lorever- lost oljects ol desire). But the oljects
themselves are nothing without the fow ol desire. which they
produce lut which also acts as their support. 1he setting up ol the
e!¡-·s a as triggers. the presentation ol them as sulstitutes lor an
architecture we desire lut do not have. construes them as signi-
hers and mirrors them lack to the viewer as marks ol a specihc.
even unique and personal. allective architectural encounter÷an
8 P A C I R G 147
event. ·|.s moment ol experience. ·|.s sensation ol architecture
condensed |-·-. ·|.s spacing lor architecture that happened lor
m- just oeo. 6`-s· 1eo. me.. .`-s· 1eo. a me..
8uch is the per-
lormative dimension ol this work÷to constitute the desire lor
architecture out ol an impossille- to- hll lack. hgured ly part-
oljects in a fash ol recognition.
All this so lar has taken place on the side ol the Imaginary.
where the architectural sulject is elicited ly a movement ol desire
through part- oljects in an act ol enunciation. an experience. a
perlormance. But as the L 8chema makes clear. the more lunda-
mental relationship that mediates all ol this machinery is that
letween 8. the sulject ol desire. and a lig Other. A. Beading
Advertisements through the complete L 8chema lorces the recog-
nition that the fows ol desire structuring the viewer`s experience
are projected lrom and return to the locus ol that Other. which
Lacan calls the 8ymlolic (or language. or law. or the unconscious
itsell. dehned as the "discourse ol the Other`). Architecture. the
sulject ol desire. is not produced willlully in an intentional act.
rather. it is the ellect ol what is repressed. Rote that in the graph.
the image- screen alsorls the vector ol the unconscious and
llocks its representation. even as desire is an ellect ol the uncon-
scious. At the time ol Advertisements. 1schumi does not give a
name to A. the Other ol this 8ymlolic realm. But we know it already.
it is City.
Becall the main argument ol the autonomy thesis. that the
production ol architecture results lrom a practice ol a very specihc
and precise kind. whose enalling conditions antedate any par-
ticular architectural project. 1he designer does not lalricate the
materials he works with. the materials ol architecture÷its ele-
ments and operations. its types and procedures÷are not neutral
and open to a unihcation imposed ly the architect. Bather. the
materials ol architecture possess a specihc character and lorma-
tive potential ol their own that. while creating conditions lor
elaloration and expansion. more emphatically impose constraint.
demand conservation. and compel constant repetition. Architec-
tural decisions are already determined ly the discourse itsell.
the architect neither invents nor chooses them. 1he architect dis-
covers rather than creates the project. encounters situations
rather than devises solutions. 1herelore. in a certain sense. il the
architectural system is autonomous. there is nothing that can le
added to it. notwithstanding the illusion ol choice. and there is
nothing to do with it except to continue it in the hope that mere
continuance will increase experience and understanding. 1his
system is what we have called the City.
1hus the City is a determinant ol architecture. or. put another
way. architecture as the sulject ol desire is a City ellect. At the
same time. however. there is the haunting resonance that the
whole thing could have leen set up dillerently. that the entire
architectural 8ymlolic and its authority are a lragile artihce. But
rather than lree the practice ol architecture lrom its autonomy.
this arlitrariness lurther enlorces the constraints ol autonomy
through the recognition that its necessity is not derived lrom the
Beal lut rather an elalorate hction added to it. a negation that
gives rise to a chain ol metonymic associations. lilidinal sul-
stitutions. and empty intervals. According to this account the
very making ol architecture is a spacing out ol the architectural
8ymlolic that cannot le concluded or sullated. only rehearsed÷
endlessly unto death. Architecture must constantly le reiterated.
repeated as a·.|.·-.·o·-. constructed as sulject ol desire. which.
on a trajectory through the architectural Imaginary. returns to the
symlolic City. which is also architecture`s record. the storehouse
where the endless reiterations are inventoried. 1hen through a
kind ol |a.|··a¸|..||-.·. that repetition is crossed in the oppo-
site direction ly the vector ol the architectural unconscious. the
discourse ol the Other. 1hus is the City the leginning and end ol
8 P A C I R G 149
By dehning architecture as. on the one hand. a repetition
lorn ol very precise leginnings and enalling conditions and.
on the other. a perlormance and production ol unprecedented
desires and experiences. 1schumi initiated a crisis in these early
works lut also a potential in architecture that has leen larely
acknowledged. even as sulsequent developments up to our own
time seem to develop his predictions. Indeed. his particular
dillerentiation ol architecture lrom its medium. made in these
early essays and conceptual projects. will later le developed to
eventually mark the extreme limits ol the Legelian supplement.
that is. ol autonomy as such. turning architecture`s autonomy
into what we now perceive. according to contemporary theoreti-
cal discourse. as its very opposite÷the pure production ol ellects.
But in 1schumi`s work. leginning as early as .p¸¡. it is as il
through a spacing and exteriorization ol architecture`s autonomy
we have already tunneled through to the other side. to the side
ol ellects (like the electron in quantum theory that is on loth
sides ol a larrier at the same time). hnding within the autonomy
project a practice that tries to keep laith with some more lunda-
mental state ol contingency. delirium. and euphoria ol repetition
rather than either an alhrmation ol lorm or a melancholy ol
loss. In .p¸¡÷.p¸6 1schumi announced what would lecome the
legacy ol the most advanced avant- garde practice. architecture
can maintain itsell .o -¡¡-.· even as the moment to realize it in
actuality has passed.
1he Hanhattan 1ranscripts (.p¸6÷.p8.) push this research
explicitly toward the urlan scale. lor it is now Hanhattan. rather
than the \illa 8avoye. that is the cathexis olject÷a city ready lor
1-·eo·o-m-o·. understood as having an erotic. transgressive. and
violent programmatic potential woven into its grid ol streets
Bernard Tschumi, Manhattan Transcripts,
8 P A C I R G 151
l·e¸·amma·.. ..e|-o.- eo¸|· ·e !- ·|-·- a contrario. ·e
¸o-s·.eo ¡as· |omao.s· ¡·e¸·ams ·|a· s··..·|, .e.-· eo|,
¡oo.·.eoa| ·-¸o.·-m-o·s o-.-ssa·, ¡e· so·...a| ao1 ¡·e-
1o.·.eo. ao1 ·e ¡a.e· ·|es- a.·...·.-s ¸-o-·a||, .eos.1-·-1
o-¸a·..- ao1 oo¡·e1o.·..-. |oro·,. meo·o.o¸. oa·s.
.o|·s. ·|- .eos··o.·.eo e¡ som¡·oeos meoom-o·s. ¸am-s.
s¡-.·a.|-s. a··s. ¡-·.-·s- s-roa| a.·...·,.` !|- .eo.-¡· e¡
..e|-o.- a|se so¸¸-s·s 1.¡¡-·-o· ·-a1.o¸s e¡ s¡a·.a| ¡oo.-
·.eo÷.o ·|- .o·-·s-.·.eo e¡ |e¸.. ao1 ¡a.o. ·a·.eoa|.·,
ao1 ao¸o.s|. .eo.-¡· ao1 ¡|-aso·-.
1he internal quotation is lrom Bataille`s "1he Rotion ol Expen-
diture.` and 1schumi is meditating particularly on Bataille`s
notion ol "nonproductive expenditure.` with its emphasis on
loss. destruction. and transgression as modes ol jouissance.
Ronproductive expenditure values process and means over oljects
and ends. it recognizes that the possilility ol excess without lim-
its is lound up with violence. 1he point ol 1schumi`s repeated
relerences to violence in Advertisements and the Hanhattan
1ranscripts should not le misunderstood as simply a relellious
toying with the taloo. Bather. what is at stake lor 1schumi is the
generation ol domains ol untranslatalle multiplicity and diller-
ence. domains and lorces that disrupt and violate one another
lecause ol their nonidentity.
1he 1ranscripts are presented in tripartite diagrams. the pho-
tographic lragments (events) now act as a code lor the architectural
program÷a murder in Central Park and the fight ol the lugitive
to the simulated pleasures ol pornography and prostitution on
Forty- second 8treet. 1he architectural drawings (spaces) are
distortions ol traditional cities and gardens (drawn in a manner
that olliquely relers to the constructivist projects ol Iakov Chernikov
and Ratan Altman). And the lugitive`s fight is traced in a choreo-
graphic notation ol lines and arrows (movements) tracing fows
and interactions. 1hese three notational lands produce aleatoric
drilts and interactions loth horizontally and vertically in the
same way the street grid and luildings ol Hanhattan do. lut in
perhaps an even more multidimensional and heterogeneous space
ol constructed and appropriated signihcations. 1he Hanhattan
1ranscripts can le understood as a relolding ol Guy Ielord`s
|a|-1 6.·, map ol .p¡¸. with its temporalization ol space and its
passional and violent drilts through metropolitan terrains. !|-
|a|-1 6.·, was itsell an appropriation ol a .p¡8 hlm noir alout a
murder in Hanhattan. and the hlm was in turn an appropriation
ol a look ol crime photographs ly \eegee (a.k.a. Arthur Fellig).
But 1schumi recodes and rescripts these relerences and others
into a systematic mapping ol event space.
It is instructive to consider 1schumi`s own recollection ol the
!·a1.·.eoa| m-aos e¡ ·-¡·-s-o·a·.eo÷¡-·s¡-.·..-s. ar-
eoem-··..s. ¡|aos. s-.·.eos÷|a.- a oom!-· e¡ |.m.·a·.eos.
!|- .1-a e¡ ·|- -.-o·. ¡e· .os·ao.-. o|..| |a1 -.e|.-1 eo·
e¡ m, ¡·-..eos ·|-e·-·..a| oe·|. .eo|1 oe· !- ·-¡·-s-o·-1
·|·eo¸| ·|-s- m-aos. 8o· .· |a1 !--o -r·-os..-|, 1e.o-
m-o·-1 .o e·|-· 1.s..¡|.o-s so.| as 1ao.-. .-··a.o s¡e··s.
ao1 ¡|m ·|-e·,. as o-|| as .o ·|- oe·| e¡ a oom!-· e¡
¡-·¡e·mao.- a··.s·s. !|- 1.a¸·ams l ·|-o -|a!e·a·-1
o-·- .·o..a| .o e·1-· ·e !·.o¸ a se·· e¡ s¡a·.a| a!s··a.·.eo.
mo.| as .o ·|- oe·| e¡ a ma·|-ma·...ao o|e e¡-·a·-s
·|·eo¸| ¡e·mo|as ao1 -¸oa·.eos. lo ao aoa|e¸eos oa, l
1-..1-1 ·e os- ·|- -¸o..a|-o· e¡ -¸oa·.eos÷.o ·|.s .as-.
a·.|.·-.·o·a| oe·a·.eo. l |a1 a|oa,s !--o .o·-·-s·-1 .o
·|- ¡a.· ·|a· a·.|.·-.·o·- oas oe· eo|, a!eo· s¡a.- !o·
a|se a!eo· ·|- me.-m-o· e¡ !e1.-s .o ·|a· s¡a.-. l|a·
¡as..oa·-1 m- a· ·|- ·.m- e¡ ·|- 1ranscripts. ao1 s·.||
1e-s. .s ·|a· l .eo|1 ·a|- a ¡·e¸·am ao1 1.smao·|- .·. .o·
8 P A C I R G 153
.· o¡. ao1 ·-.eo¡¸o·- .· .o ·|- sam- oa, as l .eo|1 o.·|
ao, ..soa| ma·-·.a|. lo ¡a.·. ·|- |e.a·.eo e¡ ·|- ¡.-.-s e¡
·|- ¡·e¸·am is a·.|.·-.·o·-. lo e·|-· oe·1s. ·|.s oas oe·
oo|.|- o·.·.o¸ a s.·.¡· ¡e· a ¡|m. eo- .eo|1 |a.- a mo·1-·
a· ·|- !-¸.oo.o¸ ao1 a mo·1-· a· ·|- -o1. e· ·oe mo·1-·s
.o ·|- m.11|-.
1he actors (and we the readers) do not move in space so much
as space moves with them (and us) as a constantly permutating
|mo-|· delineated as distorted architectural lragments. unlolding
in perspective. translorming across time. In many ol the lrames.
the horizon is withheld. the vanishing point ol the perspective
unnaturally high or low. the shapes morphed and liquehed so
that it is dilhcult visually to stalilize the lrames. 1he images in
the various strata seem to react in a hlmic way to lorces given oll
ly one another. crumlling. lading. dissolving. though not with
direct systematicity. It is as il part ol the attempt is to render
visille sensations leneath the surlace ol appearance÷tremors
and rhythms otherwise inaccessille. 1he dillerent lands seem
to have a common lorce held leneath or lehind them. its systolic
and diastolic pulses variously calilrated in each ol the registers.
1hough 1schumi emphasizes the notational systems and their
construction. the importance ol the work does not lie just in
these images. they are only necessary vehicles. 1he importance
ol the 1ranscripts is rather their oller ol a radical alternative to
the model ol a general underlying or overarching architectural
language that realizes its positive manilestation. expression. or
thematization in a particular architectural olject or event. In the
1ranscripts. an architectural Beal is conceptualized precisely as
a realm unrealized and unrealizalle. a negativity. which lecomes
present in ellect and as event only through displacement and ne-
gation÷in the gaps. holes. and cracks that are the marks ol archi-
tectural desire. A comparison with Bossi is again helplul. For him.
Bernard Tschumi, Parc de la Villette,
Paris, 1985, superimposition
of points, lines, and surfaces.
8 P A C I R G 155
architecture is the historically determined mediation letween an
actual situation and the 8ymlolic order that is the social- historical
city. so architecture`s desire is destined lor expression in an Imag-
inary where it remains haunted ly a lilidinal memory ol a City it
cannot lully recollect. 1schumi also links desire to a project ol
impossille recovery. lut lor him an architectural Beal is the void.
the excess. the emptiness produced and encircled ly the symlolic
systems ol architecture. Architecture is the symlolic realization
ol the Beal ao1 its simultaneous negation. lut the Beal returns as
the shock ol a contingent encounter that disrupts the autonomous
circulation ol the symlolic apparatus. Lence the jouissance that
takes the lorm ol radical inaccessilility and dillerence that can le
neither mediated nor superseded. Lence too the ¡|os- 1-- ¡eo.·. the
surplus or exorlitance that escapes all attempts at symlolization.
1he series ol metonymic notations in the 1ranscripts registers the
disjunction letween the particular event ol architecture and the
architectural unconscious into which the actual event is constantly
lading÷the lost Other that architecture desires. the olscured
exteriority that architecture .o -¡¡-.· represents.
In the project lor the Parc de la \illette (.p8.÷.p86). the attempt
legun almost a decade earlier to produce the concept and the
experience ol architecture ly llocking its actual manilestation
achieves its hnal limit condition.
For the trigger that would
produce architectural desire has now leen assigned not to an
image lut to a diagrammatic grid ol lorty-two points superimposed
ly systems ol orthogonal and curvilinear lines and horizontal
surlaces. intersecting and meandering in a deployment ol analytic
elements so visually diminished and incomplete that. to eyes still
trained on sulstance and halituated to luller kinds ol visual
language. they indeed might not le counted as architecture at all.
1he project is more like a kind ol architectural IRA. all ol the
inlormation necessary lor the generation and organization ol a
lully lunctioning set ol programmatic- spatial events is present.
lut none ol the sulstance. la .as- ..1-. 1schumi later called the
project. the empty square. an alsence. a spacing lor events yet to
come÷not a pure architecture lut an architecture ol pure le-
coming. architecture that asserts itsell as something emergent
rather than hnal. something that we have to strain to keep in
locus and. even then. hold only momentarily. just lelore it slips
out ol our perception and in the next instant is already lost.
Ro one understood this ma.o·-oao· ol architecture more than
Jacques Ierrida. \hat Ierrida called his own -.·.·o·- 1eo!|-
provokes. on the one hand. an inversion ol the domination ol
presence. which he identihes with \estern metaphysics and the
history ol philosophy. and on the other hand enacts a new text
that necessarily participates in the very principles it deconstructs.
lut participates as an invasion and a volatilization. releasing the
dissonance ol the inherited order. In his .p86 essay lor the look
la 6as- l.1-. Ierrida hnds in 1schumi`s project an architecture
ol the same lormulation. |`a·.|.·-.·o·- 1eo!|-. an architecture ol
alsolute autonomy together with alsolute negation. ol concept
and sensuous experience. an architecture that seeks to transcend
lorm through a spacing out ol lorm. architecture as a graph ol City
itsell understood as a held ol desire. Ierrida characteristically
sees all this as a play ol intervals. dillerences. and traces ol dil-
lerences. as "a writing ol space. a mode ol spacing which makes a
place lor the event.` or a "production ol intervals without which
the 'lull` terms would not signily. would not lunction.`
seems to have Bossi and Eisenman in mind as comparisons when
he insists that 1schumi`s city. despite the alsence at its heart. is
not one ol shadowy melancholy.
!|- lolies. ·|-o. ·|-s- lolies .o -.-·, s-os- |¡e||.-s.
ma1o-ss-s}÷lor once o- .ao sa, ·|a· ·|-, a·- oe· eo ·|-
·ea1 ·e ·o.o. ·|- ·o.o e¡ 1-¡-a· e· oes·a|¸.a. !|-, 1e oe·
ameoo· ·e ·|- a!s-o.- e¡ ·|- oe·|`÷·|a· ¡a·- e¡ mad-
8 P A C I R G 157
ness in the classical period e¡ o|..| íeo.ao|· s¡-a|s.
los·-a1. ·|-, ma|- o¡ a oe·|. ·|-, ¡o· .o·e e¡-·a·.eo. . . .
!|- lolies ¡o· .o·e e¡-·a·.eo a ¸-o-·a| 1.s|e.a·.eo. ·|-,
1·ao .o·e .· -.-·,·|.o¸ ·|a·. oo·.| maintenant. s--ms ·e
|a.- ¸..-o a·.|.·-.·o·- e.-· ·e m-ao.o¸.
Ierrida also makes the important point that among the ex-
cesses that lurst through what appears to le. at hrst gloss. only
the ellacement ol architecture. are parallel systems ol the same
sort 1schumi earlier invoked in the Hanhattan 1ranscripts÷pho-
tography. cinematography. choreography÷all ol which are here
in the project lor La \illette gralted onto the points. lines. and
surlaces as hypertexts pointing leyond any actual sulstance to
the metonymical chains ol desire. Belore the availalility ol the
multimedia technology that would literally dissolve architecture
into other media lorms. the project lor La \illette hnds the mul-
timedia conceptual apparatus that architecture produces in its
own sell- dehnition.
And then in .pp.. 1schumi`s hreworks lor
La \illette lurther ollered a spectacle ol perlormance as such.
Adorno`s empirical apparition. completing the dyad ol trigger
and ellect that the essays and Advertisements hrst announced.
1schumi treats the Parc de la \illette as an omnilus in which
the research ol Advertisements and the Hanhattan 1ranscripts
as well as the theoretical writings is amalgamated into something
like a unihed held theory ol event space. But it is the grid ol red
cules that most distinguishes La \illette. \e have seen that lor
Eisenman the gridded collage ol appropriated and repeated
elements is the most adequate symlolization ol the architectural
Beal (the grid is a perlect hgure ol the 8ymlolic). It is one ol the
primary characteristics ol the grid superimposed on a given con-
text that it can. on the one hand. systematically reduce the archi-
tectural raw material and perceptual data ol an organizational
scheme to degree zero÷the point grid leing understood as the
Bernard Tschumi, Parc de la Villette,
showing grid of folies.
8 P A C I R G 159
minimal limit lor a work to le called architecture÷and. on the
other. generate a limitlessly interpretalle. radically contingent.
and heterogeneous set ol experiences and associations. 1he grid
announces and insists on architectural autonomy and authority.
estallishing as it does a dillerent spatial order. a distinction. and
a separation lrom the contexts in which it appears. and yet it is
almost inhnitely accommodating ol the otherness ol the lrag-
ments that it appropriates and incorporates and temporarily
unites. 1he grid is pure relationship. with almost no lorm lelt as
Around .p¸6÷.p¸¸. in conjunction with a studio project at
the Architectural Association in London. 1schumi hrst made
use ol the potential ol the point grid superimposed onto an ex-
isting urlan context. Joyce`s Garden employs the grid as a kind
ol vanishing mediator. linking the random everyday events ol
London`s Covent Garden with the textual perlormance ol James
Joyce`s í.oo-¸aos la|-. weaving the two incommensuralle
systems together even as the grid itsell lades into nothing and
leaves only its traces and ellects.
1schumi very much intends
the resulting heterogeneities. disjunctions. and alstractions
ol the project as a meditation on the then current state ol mass
cultural consumption and commercialism and the sulject posi-
tions resulting lrom that condition÷the same issues addressed
in Advertisements. the same issues that preoccupied the Italian
a·.|.·-··o·a ·a1..a|- and in particular Archizoom`s Ro- 8top City
ol .p68. which is the most direct inspiration lor 1schumi`s grid.
As lor the grid itsell. Archizoom used it as loth enclave and glolal
cover. local monument and endless mat. \ith 1schumi`s devel-
opment. which is hnalized in La \illette. it now approaches an
axiomatic in Ieleuze`s sense÷it has no content. it is alsolute
relationship. even as it organizes dillerent fows ol desire.
1he grid lecomes a vanishing mediator. an axiomatic. 1he
axiomatic is not an origin or a genesis. it is really the structure
8 P A C I R G 161
common to a plurality ol domains. the correct concept to capture
the way the grid organizes dillerences ol architectural lorms and
programs. At La \illette the grid arranges points. lines. and sur-
laces as three "systems.` which in 1schumi`s vocalulary means
an assemllage ol spatial delineators. programmatic latencies or
potentials. and sulject positions related to or constructed ly
these two. 1he orthogonal lines÷.a·1e and 1-.omaoos. the city`s
originating mark÷are necessary lor the same reason Eisenman`s
line lrom one lridge ol Cannaregio to the other was necessary. to
hx what would otherwise le an inhnitely extending wel. to specily
it and modulate it to this particular site. \hereas the system ol
curvilinear surlaces introduces an architectural analogue to
the cinematic montage that disrupts that temporary stalility÷
"cinegramme lolie.` 1schumi called it. a mad orgy ol events multi-
plied ly the omnipresence ol diverse media and provoking all
manner ol actions that can le attriluted to a realm leyond neces-
sity. One ol the aims ol the work is to project various planes ol
experience erased ol lunctional determinants lut still somehow
charged (as il with a kind ol perlormance voltage). so that an
unpredictalle variety ol fickering lunctions and microperlor-
mances can le staged. "Programmatic comlinations ol lolies. L¡.
cinema- restaurant. piano lar. video theater. olservatory. shops.
running track. possilly small radio studio. R¡. children`s lolie.
drawing workshop. tarzan lar. slide. water games. the adminis-
tration. R¸. lolie ol spectacles. water wheel. hrst aid clinic.`
1he points. then. the ¡e|.-s themselves. are culicled organs ol
intensihed cultural practice. niches and calinets corresponding
to all the potential variety ol social lile itsell.
In the Hanhattan 1ranscripts each register or region ol the
work. each land. required a distinctive lorm and code ol its own.
whereas at La \illette this analytic amlition might le said to ter-
minate in the ellort to lulhll itsell at the level ol the molecular unit.
For each point ol the system. each red cule. is now lurther lroken
down. its parts permutated. sulstituted. and cross- relerenced
with all ol the other cules. until it no longer makes sense to speak
ol the cules as discrete oljects at all lut rather ol all ol them
together as a generic system ol architectural glyphs. 1ypology in
Bossi`s sense is replaced ly a hypothetically inhnite comlinato-
rial logic ol lrames. walls and foors. ramps. stairs. lridges. and
lalconies. (It is no coincidence that 1schumi chose í.oo-¸aos
la|- lor the intertext ol Joyce`s Garden. since í.oo-¸aos la|-
accomplishes at the level ol the word precisely what La \illette
does with the architectural unit ol the lolly.) In place ol Eisenman`s
unending return ol the dillerently same. 1schumi puts into place
markers ol perpetual translormation. 1he overall ellect is ol a
giant pulsing organism. ol systolic compressions and condensa-
tions into hgures and diastolic explosions into crumlling and
dissolving architectural shards. creating red ripples and rhythms
across La \illette`s landscape.
In Ierridean terms. each ¡e|.- can le identical to itsell and
present as an artilact only on the condition that it is repeatalle÷
a nonsynonymous sulstitution. that is. neither identical to itsell
nor present as such.
1he lits and pieces ol constructivism÷
lrames with attached panels. articulated circulation devices.
engineering structures and semaphores. the red color itsell÷which
seem to give the ¡e|.-s a materiality and presence. are in lact mere
semiotic residue ol two like- minded searches lor alsolute material
alstraction. Insatislactory as luildings. they are also essentially
and necessarily vitiated as architecture÷porous. impure. ghostly
red things haunted ly traces ol lailed utopias and uncertain
lutures. Ierrida characterizes the gridded underlay ol all this as
the "common denominator` ol the project. one without sense. "a
space which in lact spaces lut does not hll.`
It is not so lar lrom
Ierrida`s olservations to Lacan`s comparison ol his "unary
signiher`÷the elementary lorm ol the signiher as pure dillerence
that supports symlolic identihcation÷to a zero in the position ol
8 P A C I R G 163
a mathematical denominator. "In so lar as the primary signiher is
pure non- sense. it lecomes the learer ol the inhnitization ol the
value ol the sulject. not open to all meanings. lut alolishing them.
which is dillerent.`
Just as the zero in the position ol denomina-
tor lrees the numerator lrom any olligation to deler to it. so does
1schumi`s asemic grid÷let us now understand it as the unary sig-
niher ol architecture÷lree the points. lines. and surlaces lor met-
onymic play even as it initiates the endless process ol displacements
and sulstitutions that comprises La \illette`s signilying scheme.
But the value ol the Lacanian spin lor us here is twolold. since
it also enalles us to take into account the conception ol new sulject
positions. which was one ol 1schumi`s explicit concerns. \hile
generated out ol the same generic architectural material. there is
nevertheless a resultant mutual antagonism letween each ol the
¡e|.-s. which come to le seen as an ordered array ol discontinu-
ous centers. each itsell internally decentered. so many mutations
loosed lrom the laloratory ol event space. momentarily caught in
a gridded net. \hat results at the level ol the sulject is not just
the direct renunciation ol earlier rhetorics ol communication
(Baird`s 1.m-os.eo ameo·-os-. 8cott Brown`s communicating com-
munities. Jencks`s multiple coding). 1he antagonism÷or letter.
perhaps. agonistic autonomy (with Laclau and Houlle in mind)
also marks the morselized and incompatille sulject positions
characteristic ol this time period (call it postmodernity) in which
identities are internally contradictory. shilt with contexts. and
always overlap. Roting the lormal similarity ol 1schumi`s ¡e|.-s
with Lejduk`s nine- square grid project
as well as his masques÷
his lollies÷we could think ol ..o-¸·amm- ¡e|.- as a Lejdukian
promiscuity run wild lut now produced in the architectural
8ymlolic rather than the Imaginary÷a lorm- hgure that supports
the visille without leing seen. rather than. as in Lejduk. an
image- hgure appearing on an oneiric stage. All ol which lurther
ellects the complete migration lrom an architecture ol positive
sulstance to a pure negativity ol process and desire.
Bernard Tschumi, Parc de la Villette,
ideograms showing the permutations
of the folies and the grid as vanishing
8 P A C I R G 165
1he period .p¸¸÷.p¸8 is the moment ol the late avant- garde`s
"discovery` ol the grid as the primary signiher ol architecture÷
trace- trait ol the desiring held. And that moment ol the grid oper-
ates lor me as a hinge around which my entire narrative now
turns and ends. For it was at that same time that Bem Koolhaas.
in his study ol delirious Rew ¥ork. lound in the midst ol laissez- laire
development. congestion. and consumption the primary example
ol the schizophrenic techno- psychic machine that would pre-
occupy him lor his entire career. the assemllage ol the Iowntown
Athletic Clul. in which the collage grid÷once again in the lorm
ol the vast urlan wel ol Hanhattan÷couples vertically with the
skyscraper`s stack ol diversely lunctioning plateaus. themselves
linked only ly the technical device ol an elevator÷part ol the
"technology ol the lantastic` ol Coney Island÷to produce previously
unimaginalle experiential ellects out ol a purely economically
engineered servomechanism. "Eating oysters with loxing gloves.
naked. on the pth foor` is lut one ol the surrealist programmatic
promises ol what is. in itsell. a nonarchitectural apparatus. lut
one whose lilertine architectural potentials can le thwarted
only ly a lailure ol nerve. 1his grid- elevator- machine came into
leing through agents who relused to adopt a discourse at odds
with the realities ol the spasmodic "culture ol congestion.` relused.
in lact. to adopt a discourse at all÷an avant- garde without a mani-
lesto. which must then le written retroactively.
enough. in .p8.÷.p83 the Iowntown Athletic Clul was rotated
ninety degrees. lrom section into plan. to lorm the diagram ol
OHA`s entry to the competition lor the Parc de la \illette. which
came in second place to 1schumi`s.
Koolhaas`s use ol the grid is not simply a glorihcation ol con-
ventional pluralism. as with 8cott Brown and \enturi. lut neither
is it the endlessly delerring archaeology ol Eisenman or the mad-
ness ol 1schumi. Bather. it is an insistence on the relationship
letween the randomness and contingency ol experience and the
8 P A C I R G 167
presence ol some architecturally inert. nondillerential. technical
apparatus that nevertheless propels the dillerentiation ol what
goes on around it. 1he grid- elevator- machine has no sulstance
even though it presides over all the delirious events ol Rew ¥ork.
"congestion without matter.` as Koolhaas put it. \hat is more.
there is no architectural intention lehind it. only "a systematic
overestimation ol what exists`.
a strange. empiricist quid pro quo
in which a senseless disarray ol "oljectilying lacts`÷Hanhattan`s
grid. the skyscraper. Coney Island÷asserts itsell as a set ol lrute
things exactly where one expected to hnd architectural signs and
representations. 1his is nothing less than a glimpse ol the archi-
tectural Beal÷not Lejduk`s Beal seen anamorphically through
the Imaginary. not Eisenman`s dead still swath ol symlolically
constructed emptiness. and not 1schumi`s disruptive. spaced- out
gap ol the Beal. 1his is the intrusion ol the oltuse. meaningless
1hing itsell. which punctures a hole in the architecture sustaining
8ymlolic order. 1he stupidity ol the apparatus loregrounds the
lact that the most trivial things can trigger recognitions ol the
anomalies in the order ol the 8ymlolic. 1he olscenity ol the 1hing
is its reminder ol the lragility ol that order.
In a certain sense. ol course. Koolhaas simply sulstitutes one
Rame- ol- the- Father lor another÷\allace Larrison and Baymond
Lood lor Le Corlusier. Hies. and Loos÷as a kind ol reality test
ol the lunctionalized. instrumentalized architecture initially ex-
pelled ly the late avant- garde. But in time even that little irony
will melt away into a new set ol "oljectilying lacts` whose more
complete reihcation and mindless dispossession ol the architec-
tural sulject categorically exceeds even that ol the Iowntown
Athletic Clul. Koolhaas lully understands the lalelul legacy ol
his discovery. 1ake. lor example. "1he Iltimate Atlas lor the ..st
Century.` in which he clinically scans the glolal society and
economy and records thirty spaces arranged alphaletically. lrom
"ad space` ("nothing happens until somelody sells something`)
to "waning space` ("delirious no more`. instead "an ecology ol
lawyers. dealmakers. zoning experts. and enallers grotesquely
infate the arcane complexities ol 'getting things done``). leaving
the last page lor an image ol Le Corlusier`s deserted capitol at
Chandigarh. "all that`s lelt lrom the \estern imagination`s most
radical attempt to organize pullic space.`
Beihed negation ol
the primordial architectural Imaginary. the totally lanal. presym-
lolic. economic- technological 1hing that had remained in the
unconscious ol the late avant- garde experiment is now "retroac-
tively` created out ol the primary signiher itsell.
Koolhaas`s now classic text "Junkspace`. "Junkspace exposes what
previous generations kept under wraps. structures emerge like
springs lrom a mattress. exit stairs dangle in didactic trapeze.
proles thrust into space to deliver laloriously what is in lact om-
nipresent. lree air. acres ol glass hang lrom spidery calles. tautly
stretched skins enclose faccid non- events. . . . In Junkspace.
the talles are turned. it is sulsystems only. without superstruc-
ture. orphaned particles in search ol lramework or pattern.`
\ith the evacuation ol the symlolic superstructure. the architec-
tural Other meets it demise. and when the Other collapses. we lose
the sulject itsell÷ architecture.
In the negative dialectic ol the late avant- garde. the olject ol
desire that is architecture is lost lrom the leginning. and all
mere architectural oljects are attempts to hll the emptiness ol
that loss. Iependent on an Other. an organizing held in relation
to which it is exterior and decentered. architecture is nevertheless
possessed ly the late avant- garde in the very lorm ol its alsence.
But there was never anything to guarantee the authority or even
the consistency ol the Other on which architecture depends. And
later. when the inert mechanical technology and economy ol
Koolhaas`s Rew ¥ork has warped into the dedillerentiating econ-
omies and technologies ol data management and coupled with the
technocratic positivism ol an architecture- managerial class. when.
8 P A C I R G 169
in other words. the necessarily excluded lanality ol the 1hing
achieves emlodiment in architecture as such. then architecture
will have shriveled into mere design÷"purely instrumental. strictly
operational.` a set ol opportunistic maneuvers in specihc. limited
contexts÷possessing neither transcendence nor mystery.
imperative to make do with just what is already at hand. with what
is already availalle. is precisely what lorecloses desire.
1o our comlinatory ol categories and characteristics that de-
scrile the late avant- garde. we can now add a diachronic vector
that moves lrom the lleached- llank mimesis ol Bossi`s realism
through Eisenman`s modernist archaeology ol sell- dillerence
to the postmodern excesses and dislocations ol Lejduk and
1schumi. and hnally to the end altogether ol a certain project ol
1his trajectory parallels (and perhaps depends on)
the movement lrom the part- oljects ol Bossi`s Imaginary to
Eisenman`s gridded 8ymlolic to the intrusion ol the Beal into the
landscapes ol Lejduk (where the Beal interacts primarily with
the Imaginary) and 1schumi (where the interaction ol the Beal
with the 8ymlolic is ultimately privileged). 8uch is the movement
ol architecture`s desire. traversing the limits ol architectural sig-
nihcation. it is architecture`s death drive. For it is the nature ol
desire that its vector twists lack on itsell. lecoming its own olject.
which it can achieve only through an essential negativity÷some-
thing premised on the impossilility ol lull satislaction and which.
as such. persists as an ellect ol a primordial alsence. 1he diagram
ol desire is the eternal void. which is what makes signihcation
possille and representation necessary. 1hus what is glimpsed in
the architecture ol the late avant- garde is not the actual end ol
architectural practice lut the real hnality ol its signilying net-
work. the late avant- garde enacts architecture`s inadequation to
itsell. 1he ungraspalle totality ol the desire called architecture
inserts itsell as the limit condition ol all mere practices ol archi-
tecture. and leaves the need lor something else unassuaged.
R O1 E O R 1 L E C O\ E B I L L I 8 1 B A1 I O R 171
1he cover illustration is a sketch ly Aldo Bossi ol a project lor the
Centro Iirezionale competition in 1urin. which Bossi and collal-
orators entered in .p6.. and which he redrew in .p¸.. 1he sketch-
look containing the drawing (along with redrawings ol other early
projects) is held in the Ieutsches Architekturmuseum. Franklurt.
(8ee the exhilition catalogue Aldo Bossi. u.- So.|- oa.| 1-m 6|o.|.
í·o|- /-..|ooo¸-o oo1 ío·oo·¡- [Hunich. Prestel. .cc3].)
1he upper part ol the drawing is a diagram ol the grid ol 1urin.
itsell a trace ol 1urin`s primordial Boman loundation. 1he hgure
lelow is the plan ol the .-o··e. imagined ly Bossi in the lorm ol
a single analogical hgure extruded lrom one module ol the grid.
made lrom the tissue ol the city itsell lut sited on the outskirts ol
1urin÷a "center` exteriorized. an extimate olject.
1he grid is the "Analogous City.` architecture`s ¸·ao1 4o··-.
which operates on the three levels ol Imaginary. 8ymlolic. and
Beal. it is the olject ol architecture`s desire. 1he analogous hgure
is one ol endless possille e!¡-·s ¡-·.· ao··- that sulstitute lor the
never-to-le-attained Other. But there is. ol course. a lack in the
Other itsell. a hole that Bossi attempted to hll with the letters
"CI`÷a cipher. meaningless in itsell. which nevertheless under-
pins the symlolic authority ol the grid. And the green patches and
llue land¨ Io they represent the Boyal Gardens and the Po Biver¨
I`m not certain. lut they could le marks ol the unassimilalle.
unimaginalle Beal lleeding through. ÷lVu
NOT E ON T HE C OV E R I L L US T RAT I ON
R O1 E 8 1 O P A G E 8 . ÷ ¸ 173
D E S I R E
1. 8ee Louis Althusser. "Ideology and Ideological 8tate Apparatuses.` in l-o.o ao1
l|.|ese¡|, ao1 0·|-· íssa,s. trans. Ben Brewster (Rew ¥ork. Honthly Beview
Press. .p¸.). On the autonomy prollematic. see my introduction to the 0¡¡es.-
·.eos k-a1-·. S-|-.·-1 k-a1.o¸s ¡·em a jeo·oa| e¡ l1-as ao1 6·.·...sm .o 4·.|.·-.·o·-.
:,,`÷:,·¸ (Rew ¥ork. Princeton Architectural Press. .pp8). Following Althusser.
"semi- autonomy` is perhaps a letter lormulation. lut here I will maintain the
word more used in architectural discourse.
2. I intend lor these claims to hold whether my analysis is ol a textual concept like
Bossi`s typology. a single design like Eisenman`s lor Cannaregio. an entire career
as in the case ol Lejduk. or some comlination ol all ol these. as in the case ol
1schumi. I take all these together and treat them synoptically as a single project
called the late avant- garde.
3. Jacques Ierrida. "8tructure. 8ign. and Play in the Iiscourse ol the Luman 8ciences.`
in l·.·.o¸ ao1 u.¡¡-·-o.-. trans. Alan Bass (Chicago. Iniversity ol Chicago Press.
.p¸8). pp. .¸8÷.p¡. I owe the appellation "Architecture in the Age ol Iiscourse`
to Anthony \idler.
4. Hanlredo 1aluri. "L`Architecture dans le Boudoir. 1he Language ol Criticism and
the Criticism ol Language` (.p¸¡). in 4·.|.·-.·o·- !|-e·, s.o.- :,é·. ed. K. Hichael
Lays (Camlridge. HI1 Press. .pp8). p. .¡8.
5. Ilid.. p. .6¸.
6. Peter Burger. !|-e·, e¡ ·|- 4.ao·- 6a·1-. trans. Hichael 8haw (Hinneapolis. Iniversity
ol Hinnesota Press. .p8¡). p. ¡8.
7. Colin Bowe. "Introduction.` in í..- 4·.|.·-.·s (Rew ¥ork. Oxlord Iniversity Press.
.p¸¡). pp. ¸. 8. reprinted in Lays. 4·.|.·-.·o·- !|-e·, s.o.- :,é·.
8. Hanlredo 1aluri. "1oward a Critique ol Architectural Ideology` (.p6p). reprinted
in Lays. 4·.|.·-.·o·- !|-e·, s.o.- :,é·. p. .¸.
9. 1aluri. "L`Architecture dans le Boudoir.` p. .¡8.
NOT E S
10. Ilid.. p. .¡3.
11. Ienise 8cott Brown. "Learning lrom Pop.` 6asa!-||a 3¡p÷36c (Iecemler .p¸.).
reprinted in Lays. 4·.|.·-.·o·- !|-e·, s.o.- :,é·. pp. 6.÷6¡.
12. 1aluri. "L`Architecture dans le Boudoir.` p. .¡¡. Also see Hassimo 8colari. "1he
Rew Architecture and the Avant- Garde.` reprinted in Lays. 4·.|.·-.·o·- !|-e·,
13. For a sampling ol the realist discourse. see Hario Gandelsonas. "Reo- Functionalism.`
0¡¡es.·.eos ¡ (8ummer .p¸6). i÷ii. Jorge 8ilvetti. "On Bealism in Architecture.`
ua·.a·1 4·.|.·-.·o·- k-..-o . (8pring .p8c). ..÷3.. Hartin 8teinmann. "Beality as
Listory. Rotes lor a Iiscussion ol Bealism in Architecture.` 4-| 6p (8eptemler
.p¸6). 3.÷3¡. Bernard Luet. "Formalism÷Bealism.` l`4·.|.·-.·o·- 1`4o¡eo·1`|o.
.pc (April .p¸¸). 3¡÷36. 1he last two are reprinted in Lays. 4·.|.·-.·o·- !|-e·,
s.o.- :,é·. .¡8÷.¡3. and .¡6÷.6c. respectively.
14. Fredric Jameson. 4 S.o¸o|a· Ve1-·o.·,. íssa,s eo ·|- 0o·e|e¸, e¡ ·|- l·-s-o· (London.
\erso. .cc.). pp. .p8. .pp.
15. Edward \. 8aid. 0o la·- S·,|-. Vos.. ao1 l.·-·a·o·- a¸a.os· ·|- 6·a.o (Rew ¥ork.
Pantheon. .cc6). pp. ¸. 8 (ellipsis in original). For Adorno`s use ol the concept.
see 1heodor \. Adorno. "Late 8tyle in Beethoven.` in íssa,s eo Vos... ed. Bichard
Leppert. trans. 8usan L. Gillespie (Berkeley. Iniversity ol Calilornia Press.
16. 1he relerence is to the passage in the "culture industry` chapter in Hax Lorkheimer
and 1heodor \. Adorno. u.a|-.·.. e¡ ío|.¸|·-om-o· (Rew ¥ork. Continuum. .p8¡).
p. .¡8. "1he new ideology has as its oljects the world as such. It makes use ol the
worship ol lacts ly no more than elevating a disagreealle existence into the world
ol lacts in representing it meticulously. 1his translerence makes existence itsell a
sulstitute lor meaning and right. \hatever the camera reproduces is leautilul. 1he
disappointment ol the prospect that one might le the typist who wins the world trip
is matched ly the disappointing appearance ol the accurately photographed areas
which the voyage might include. Rot Italy is ollered. lut evidence that it exists.`
17. Jacques Lacan. "1he 8ignihcation ol the Phallus.` in í.·.·s. 4 S-|-.·.eo. trans. Alan
8heridan (Rew ¥ork. Rorton. .p¸¸).
18. Anika Lemaire and Iavid Hacey. ja.¸o-s la.ao (London. Boutledge. .p¸¸). p. .6..
Lemaire quotes lrom 8erge Leclaire. "La realite du desir.` in Centre d`etudes
R O1 E 8 1 O P A G E 8 ¸ ÷ . 3 175
Laennec. S-roa|.·- |oma.o-. u.s·e.·-. -·|oe|e¸.-. se..e|e¸.-. ¡s,.|aoa|,s-. ¡|.|ese¡|.-
(Paris. Lethielleux. .p66).
19. Is it a mere coincidence that Joseph Bykwert`s 41am`s ueos- .o la·a1.s-. !|- l1-a
e¡ ·|- l·.m.·..- uo· .o 4·.|.·-.·o·a| u.s·e·, was pullished in .p¸.¨ Or was the writing
ol that look driven ly the same desire that drove the late avant- garde¨
20. Lacan. í.·.·s. 4 S-|-.·.eo. p. 3..
21. 1he title ol Bossi`s drawing is a relerence to a line in Georg 1rakl`s poem
22. John Lejduk. Vas| e¡ V-1osa. le·|s. :,¸,÷:,·`. ed. Kim 8hkapich (Rew ¥ork.
Bizzoli. .p8¡). p. 63.
23. Fredric Jameson. "Imaginary and 8ymlolic in Lacan` (.p¸¸). in !|- l1-e|e¸.-s e¡
!|-e·,. íssa,s :,,:÷:,·é. vol. . (London. Boutledge. .p88). p. .c¡.
24. 1aluri. "1oward a Critique ol Architectural Ideology.` p. 3..
25. Fredric Jameson. !|- le|.·..a| |o.eos..eos. |a··a·..- as a Se..a||, S,m!e|.. 4.·
(London. Boutledge. .p8.). p. .c.. Iizek echoes Jameson. "1he Lacanian Beal is not
some eternal essence. lut strictly an historical Beal. Rot a Beal that is simply opposed
to quick historical change. lut the Beal that generates historical change while
at the same time leing reproduced ly these changes.` 8lavoj Iizek. "Interview.`
u.s·e·..a| Va·-·.a|.sm ¸ (.ccc). .p¡.
26. 8teven Lelmling uses the concepts ol delilerate and inevitalle lailures in !|-
So..-ss ao1 ía.|o·- e¡ í·-1·.. jam-seo (Allany. 8tate Iniversity ol Rew ¥ork Press.
.cc.). On the practico- inert and its counterhnality. see Jean- Paul 8artre. 6·.·.¸o-
e¡ u.a|-.·..a| k-aseo (London. \erso. .cc¡).
27. \hile I hope that each ol these hve chapters can le read independently. this writ-
ing has a logic that is cumulative and totalizing. which is to say that it attempts to
unlold the lundamental positions in the ideological held ol the late avant- garde.
lrom which all corollary and sulsequent positions derive. \hat is more. this
introductory chapter is prolally letter understood il read |as· rather than hrst.
As lehtting a grappling with the negative ol the sort presented here. however. I
could not have told you that until now.
A N A L O G Y
1. Charles Jencks and George Baird. eds.. V-ao.o¸ .o 4·.|.·-.·o·- (Rew ¥ork. George
2. As dehned ly Ferdinand de 8aussure. |ao¸o- (connoting "language` lut also a
particular "tongue`) is the specihc lut alstract linguistic system that preexists
any individual use ol it and exists perlectly only within a collectivity. ¡a·e|-. the
individual speech act. is the manipulation ol that system to produce concrete
utterances and includes localized contingencies and "accidents` like accent or
personal style. 8ee Ferdinand de 8aussure. 6eo·s- .o 6-o-·a| l.o¸o.s·..s (.p.6). ed.
Charles Bally and Allert 8echehaye in collaloration with Allert Beidlinger. trans.
\ade Baskin (Rew ¥ork. HcGraw- Lill. .p¡p). Also see Boland Barthes í|-m-o·s
e¡ S-m.e|e¸, (Rew ¥ork. Lill and \ang. .p68). which was the text that introduced
many architecture theorists to semiotics.
3. 1he renewed discussion ol typology was prompted ly Giulio Carlo Argan. "8ul
concetto di tipologia architettonica.` in í-s·s.|·.¡· ¡o· uaos S-1|ma,·. ed. Karl
Oettinger and Hohammed Bassem (Hunich. C. L. Beck. .p6.). translated as "On
the 1ypology ol Architecture.` trans. Joseph Bykwert. 4·.|.·-.·o·a| u-s.¸o 33. no.
.. (Iecemler .p63). ¡6¡÷¡6¡. In the article. Argan summarizes and interprets
Quatremère de Quincy`s nineteenth- century theory.
4. According to Levi- 8trauss. mythemes "operate simultaneously on two levels. that
ol language. where they keep on having their own meaning. and that ol metalan-
guage. where they participate as elements ol a supersignihcation that can come
only lrom their union.` Claude Levi- 8trauss. S··o.·o·a| 4o·|·e¡e|e¸,. trans. Claire
Jacolson and Brooke Grundlest 8choepl (Rew ¥ork. Basic Books. .p63). .¡3.
5. 1heodor \. Adorno. "Functionalism 1oday` (.p6¡). trans. Jane Rauman and
John 8mith. 0¡¡es.·.eos .¸ (8ummer .p¸p). 3¸.
6. Jacques Lacan. "1he 8ulversion ol the 8ulject and the Iialectic ol Iesire in the
Freudian Inconscious.` in í.·.·s. 4 S-|-.·.eo. trans. Alan 8heridan (Rew ¥ork.
Rorton. .p¸¸). pp. 3.. ll. 1he refexive structure ol the query conveys the enigma
ol the desire ol the Other. the interpellated sulject`s unansweralle question as
to what the Other desires. "1hat is why the question e¡ the Other. which comes
lack to the sulject lrom the place lrom which he expects an oracular reply in
some lorm such as 'Che vuoi¨`. '\hat do you want¨`. is the one that lest leads him
to the path ol his own desire÷providing he sets out . . . to relormulate it. even
without knowing it. as '\hat does he want ol me¨`` Lacan argues that the lorm ol
the sulject`s question to the lig Other creates a distance letween the questioner
and the 8ymlolic order and designates a crucial lack in the 8ymlolic. But it also
R O1 E 8 1 O P A G E 8 . ¡ ÷ 3 3 177
designates the moment ol suljectivity. (1he Italian phrase is spoken ly the Ievil
in Jacques Cazotte. l- 1.a!|- ameo·-or [.¸¸.].) 8lavoj Iizek derives a theory ol
ideology in part lrom the lorm ol this query. Iizek. "Che \uoi¨`. in !|- So!|.m-
0!¡-.· e¡ l1-e|e¸, (London. \erso. .p8p). pp. 8¸ ll.
7. Balael Honeo. "On 1ypology.` 0¡¡es.·.eos .3 (8ummer .p¸8). ¡¡.
8. Aldo Bossi. 4·.|.·-.·o·- e¡ ·|- 6.·, (Camlridge. HI1 Press. .p8.). p. .3.
9. I think it is correct to credit Bossi with the lundamental theorization ol the city
as the olject ol architecture`s desire. even though Bossi would never have used
that lormulation. But the potential lor such a notion was in the architectural dis-
course at least since Guy Ielord`s psychogeography (.p¡¡) or Boland Barthes`s
mythology ol the Eillel 1ower (.p6¡). Bernard 1schumi prolally saw the psychic
potential ol the City lor architecture as early as any. Hario Gandelsonas could
have made a specihcally structuralist- psychoanalytic theorization ol the relation-
ship ly the early .p¸cs and did so later in "1he City as the Olject ol Architecture.`
4ss-m!|a¸- 3¸ (Iecemler .pp8).
10. Bossi. 4·.|.·-.·o·- e¡ ·|- 6.·,. p. ..8.
11. Bossi. cited in 1aluri. "L`Architecture dans le Boudoir.` in !|- S¡|-·- ao1 ·|- la!-
,·.o·|. 4.ao·- 6a·1-s ao1 4·.|.·-.·o·- ¡·em l.·ao-s. ·e ·|- :,,cs. trans. Pellegrino
d`Acierno and Bolert Connolly (Camlridge. HI1 Press. .p8¸). p. 3¡8.
12. I should say something here alout the relation ol the imagination and the
Imaginary. terms that I have let slide into one another in this chapter. Lacan`s
optico- spatial characterization ol the Imaginary is comparalle to Kant`s imagi-
nation at least insolar as loth produce schemata that organize experience and
knowledge. It is important to emphasize. however. that in contrast to Kant`s "pro-
ductive imagination.` Lacan`s Imaginary is radically unproductive. misleading
the lragmented sulject into thinking it is a whole. It seems right to me. in the
case ol Bossi`s logic ol types. to retain some amliguity alout the productive or
13. Aldo Bossi. 4 S..-o·.¡. 4o·e!.e¸·a¡|,. trans. Lawrence \enuti (Camlridge. HI1
Press. .p8.). p. 3¡.
14. "\hen I prepared this little talk lor you. it was early in the morning. I could see
Baltimore through the window and it was a very interesting moment lecause it
was not quite daylight and a neon sign indicated to me every minute the change
ol time. and naturally there was heavy tralhc and I remarked to mysell that
exactly all that I could see. except lor some trees in the distance. was the result ol
thoughts actively thinking thoughts. where the lunction played ly the suljects
was not completely olvious. In any case the so- called uas-.o as a dehnition ol the
sulject. was there in this rather intermittent or lading spectator. 1he lest image
to sum up the unconscious is Baltimore in the early morning.` Jacques Lacan. "Ol
8tructure as an Inmixing ol an Otherness Prerequisite to Any 8ulject \hatever.`
in !|- lao¸oa¸-s e¡ 6·.·...sm ao1 ·|- S..-o.-s e¡ Vao. ed. Bichard Hacksey and
Eugenio Ionato (Baltimore. Johns Lopkins Iniversity Press. .p¸.). p. .8p.
15. Bossi. 4·.|.·-.·o·- e¡ ·|- 6.·,. pp. ¡¸÷6. passim.
16. Ilid.. p. .66.
17. Claude Levi- 8trauss. !|- Sa.a¸- V.o1 (Chicago. Iniversity ol Chicago Press.
.p66). p. .63.
18. "Initially. no distinction was made letween the typology ol the house and that
ol the toml. 1he typology ol the toml and ol the sepulchral structure overlaps
the typology ol the house. rectilinear corridors. a central space. earth and stone
materials. . . . Architecture can only use its own given elements. relusing any
suggestion not lorn ol its own making. therelore. the relerences to the cemetery
are also lound in the architecture ol the cemetery. the house. and the city. Lere.
the monument is analogous to the relationship letween lile and luildings in
the modern city. 1he cule is an alandoned or unhnished house. the cone is the
chimney ol a deserted lactory. 1he analogy with death is possille only when
dealing with the hnished olject. with the end ol all things.` Aldo Bossi. "1he Blue
ol the 8ky.` 0¡¡es.·.eos ¡ (8ummer .p¸6). 3.. 3¡. Bossi`s title is a relerence to
Georges Bataille`s .p3¡ novella l- !|-o 1o ..-|.
19. Bossi. 4·.|.·-.·o·- e¡ ·|- 6.·,. p. .¸¡.
20. For illustrations. see 4|1e kess. u·ao.o¸s ao1 la.o·.o¸s. ed. Horris Adjmi and
Giovanni Bertolotto (Rew ¥ork. Princeton Architectural Press. .pp3).
21. Adoll Loos. "Architektur` (.p.c). in !·e·:1-m. :,cc÷:,`c (Innslruck. Brenner.
.p3.). pp. .cp÷..c.
22. Bossi. 4·.|.·-.·o·- e¡ ·|- 6.·,. p. .c¸.
23. Cited in Aldo Bossi. "An Analogical Architecture.` trans. Iavid 8tewart. 4·.|.·-.·o·-
ao1 |·!ao.sm ¡6 (Hay .p¸6). ¸¡÷¸6.
24. Ilid.. p. ¸¡.
R O1 E 8 1 O P A G E 8 3 ¡ ÷ ¡ 6 179
25. Bossi. 4·.|.·-.·o·- e¡ ·|- 6.·,. p. .63.
26. Aldo Bossi. "Introduzione a Boullee.` in S.·.··. s.-|·. so||`a·.|.·-··o·a - |a ..··a
:,¸é÷:,,a (Hilan. Citta 8tudi. .pp.). p. 36c.
27. Bossi. 4·.|.·-.·o·- e¡ ·|- 6.·,. pp. ¡c÷¡..
28. Balael Honeo. "Aldo Bossi. 1he Idea ol Architecture and the Hodena Cemetery.`
0¡¡es.·.eos ¡ (8ummer .p¸6). 6. reprinted in 4·.|.·-.·o·- !|-e·, s.o.- :,é·. ed.
K. Hichael Lays (Camlridge. HI1 Press. .pp8). p. 6.
29. Aldo Bossi. hle .86. lox .c. Bossi Papers. Getty Besearch Institute. cited in Hary
Louise Lolsinger. "Antinomies ol Bealism in Postwar Italian Architecture` (PhI
diss.. Larvard Iniversity. .cc3). p. .8¸.
30. 1heodor \. Adorno. "On Lyric Poetry and 8ociety.` in |e·-s ·e l.·-·a·o·-. ed. Boll
1iedemann. vol. . (Rew ¥ork. Columlia Iniversity Press. .pp.). pp. 38÷3p.
31. Honeo. "Aldo Bossi.` p. ¡.
32. Aldo Bossi. "Introduction.` in 4|1e kess. .o 4m-·..a. :,,é ·e :,,,. ed. Kenneth
Frampton (Rew ¥ork. Institute ol Architecture and Irlan 8tudies. .p¸p). p. 3.
33. Francesco Ial Co`s olservations are among the most acute. "'Analogous city` is
the very place where monuments express mourning lor the lost order to which
they allude.` Francesco Ial Co. "Criticism and Iesign.` 0¡¡es.·.eos .3 (8ummer
34. Balael Honeo. "Postscript.` in 4|1e kess. 8o.|1.o¸s ao1 l·e¡-.·s. ed. Peter Arnell
and 1ed Bicklord (Rew ¥ork. Bizzoli. .p8¡). p. 3.¡. It is helplul here to think ol
Boland Barthes`s characterization ol the s·o1.om ol llack and white photography.
through which one gains access to the 8ymlolic. and the uninterpretalle ¡oo.·om.
with its touching. tearing. lruising ellect. \hen the ¡oo.·om occurs. the photog-
raphy will "annihilate itsell as medium to le no longer a sign lut the thing itsell.`
Boland Barthes. 6am-·a lo..1a. k-¡-.·.eos eo l|e·e¸·a¡|, (Rew ¥ork. Lill and
\ang. .p8.). p. ¡¡.
35. Alan Colquhoun. "1he Ieceptions ol Bationalism.` paper presented at "1he
.p¸cs. 1he Formation ol Contemporary Architectural Iiscourse.` Graduate
8chool ol Iesign. Larvard Iniversity. .cc..
36. Anthony \idler. "1he 1hird 1ypology.` 0¡¡es.·.eos ¸ (\inter .p¸6). 3.
37. Alstraction. lor \orringer. was the most ancient lorm ol art. which had emerged
out ol the desire "to divest the things ol the external world ol their caprice and
olscurity.` to endow them with the regularity and certainty ol geometry. "1he
urge to alstraction is the outcome ol a great inner unrest inspired in man ly the
phenomena ol the outside world. . . . \e might descrile this state as an immense
spiritual dread ol space.` \ilhelm \orringer. 4!s··a.·.eo ao1 ím¡a·|,. 4 6eo··.-
!o·.eo ·e ·|- ls,.|e|e¸, e¡ S·,|-. trans. Hichael Bullock (Rew ¥ork. International
Iniversities Press. .p¡3). p. .¡.
38. Peter Eisenman. "1he Louse ol the Iead as the City ol 8urvival.` in 4|1e kess. .o
4m-·..a. p. p.
39. Hicroanalysis emlraces rather than resolves the contradictions letween the
conceptual demand lor the new and the impossilility ol its actual achievement.
allowing each to pass into its other. "It is up to dialectical cognition to pursue the
inadequacy ol thought and thing. to experience it in the thing.` Hicroanalysis is
the lorm this experience takes. 8ee 1heodor \. Adorno. |-¸a·..- u.a|-.·..s. trans.
E. B. Ashton (Rew ¥ork. Continuum. .p¸3 [German ed.. .p66]). p. .¡3.
40. Eisenman. "1he Louse ol the Iead.` p. ¡.
41. Ilid.. p. .¡.
42. Adorno. |-¸a·..- u.a|-.·..s. p. 3.
R E P E T I T I O N
1. Jacques Ierrida. l·.·.o¸ ao1 u.¡¡-·-o.-. trans. Alan Bass (Chicago. Iniversity ol
Chicago Press. .p¸8). p. ¡.
2. In .p¸. Bossi sullered a near- latal automolile accident. alter which he lecame
increasingly interested in the idea ol architecture as a lractured lody or a series
ol skeletal lragments to le reassemlled. 8ee Aldo Bossi. 4 S..-o·.¡. 4o·e!.e¸·a¡|,
(Camlridge. HI1 Press. .p8¡).
3. Peter Eisenman. "1he Louses ol Hemory. 1he 1exts ol Analogy.` in Aldo Bossi.
4·.|.·-.·o·- e¡ ·|- 6.·, (Camlridge. HI1 Press. .p8.). p. ¡.
4. Peter Eisenman. "1he End ol the Classical. 1he End ol the Beginning. the End ol
the End.` l-·s¡-.·a .. (.p8¡). .66. reprinted in 4·.|.·-.·o·- !|-e·, s.o.- :,é·. ed.
K. Hichael Lays (Camlridge. HI1 Press. .pp8).
5. 6.·.-s e¡ 4··.¡..a| ír.a.a·.eo. !|- le·| e¡ l-·-· í.s-omao. :,,·÷:,·· (Rew ¥ork. Bizzoli.
6. Eisenman. "1he End ol the Classical.` p. .¸..
R O1 E 8 1 O P A G E 8 ¡ 6 ÷ 6 6 181
7. Eisenman`s use ol the term .em¡-·-o.- has two sources. I lelieve. One is surely
Roam Chomsky. whose 4s¡-.·s e¡ ·|- !|-e·, e¡ S,o·ar (Camlridge. HI1 Press.
.p6¡) Eisenman was reading at the time. But
"competence` is also Clement
Greenlerg`s word lor each art medium`s essential technique. I think that loth
meanings remain in Eisenman`s use.
8. Peter Eisenman. "1o Adoll Loos 8 Bertold Brecht.` l·e¸·-ss..- 4·.|.·-.·o·- ¡¡ (Hay
9. Boland Barthes. S /. trans. Bichard Hiller (Rew ¥ork. Lill and \ang. .p¸¡
[French ed.. .p¸c]).
10. Eisenman`s title lor his introduction to the Cannaregio project. "1hree 1exts
lor \enice.` is only the most convenient conhrmation ol the goal ol this trajectory.
Peter Eisenman. "1hree 1exts lor \enice.` uemos 6.. (Rovemler .p8c).
11. Peter Eisenman. "Presentness and the Being- Only- Once ol Architecture.` in
l·.··-o .o·e ·|- le.1 (Rew Laven. ¥ale Iniversity Press. .cc¸). p. ¡6. "1he
importance ol presentness as a term lor architecture is that it distinguishes
[architecture as] a writing lrom [architecture as] an instrumentality ol aesthetics
and meaning` (ilid.. p. ¡¸).
12. 1he Rame- ol- the- Father is a lundamental signiher that permits signihcation.
conlers identity. and positions the sulject in the 8ymlolic order. 8ee Jacques
Lacan. !|- S-m.oa· 8ee| lll. !|- ls,.|es-s. :,¸¸÷:,¸é. ed. Jacques- Alain Hiller.
trans. Bussell Grigg (Rew ¥ork. Rorton. .pp3).
13. Bernard 1schumi. "Episodes ol Geometry and Lust.` 4·.|.·-.·o·a| u-s.¸o (January
.p8.). reprinted in ¸o-s·.eos e¡ S¡a.- (London. Architectural Association. .ppc).
14. \. J. 1. Hitchell. l|a· ue l..·o·-s lao·` !|- l..-s ao1 le.-s e¡ lma¸-s (Chicago.
Iniversity ol Chicago Press. .cc¡). p. ¡p.
15. Jacques Ierrida. "Limited Inc a l c . . . .` in l.m.·-1 lo... ed. Gerald Grall. trans.
Jellrey Hehlman and 8amuel \eler (Evanston. Rorthwestern Iniversity Press.
16. Ierrida ollers gralting as a way ol thinking alout texts that comlines graphic
operations with processes ol insertion and prolileration. Jacques Ierrida. "1he
Ioulle 8ession` (.p¸c). in u.ss-m.oa·.eo. trans. Barlara Johnson (Chicago.
Iniversity ol Chicago Press. .p8.). On the supplement. see Jacques Ierrida. 0¡
6·amma·e|e¸,. trans. Gayatri Chakravorty 8pivak (Baltimore. Johns Lopkins
Iniversity Press. .p¸6).
17. \alter Benjamin. !|- 0·.¸.o e¡ 6-·mao !·a¸.. u·ama. trans. John Oslorne
(London. \erso. .pp8). p. .¸8.
19. Ilid.. p. .33 (translation modihed). see Benjamin. 6-samm-|·- S.|·.¡·-o. vol. .
(Franklurt am Hain.
8uhrkamp. .p¸.÷.p8p). p. ¡c6.
20. \alter Benjamin. "Ientralpark.` in 6-samm-|·- S.|·.¡·-o. vol. .. p. 66c.
21. Ilid.. p. 68..
22. Eisenman. "1hree 1exts lor \enice.` p. p.
23. Benjamin himsell appropriated this passage lrom Edmond Jaloux (.p..) and
cited it in 6-samm-|·- S.|·.¡·-o. vol. ¡. p. 366.
24. Peter Eisenman. "1he End ol the Classical.` p. .¡p.
25. Ilid.. p. .¸c.
26. Lacan emphasized the autonomy ol the 8ymlolic order. 8ee Jacques Lacan. S-m.-
oa· ll. !|- í¸e .o í·-o1`s !|-e·, ao1 .o ·|- !-.|o.¸o- e¡ ls,.|eaoa|,s.s :,¸¸÷:,¸¸.
ed. Jacques- Alain Hiller. trans. 8ylvana 1omaselli (Rew ¥ork. Rorton. .pp.).
pp. 3¡. 3¸.
27. Peter Eisenman. "Berlin. 8ulmission to the Bestricted International Competition.`
4·.|.·-.·o·a| u-s.¸o ¡3 (January÷Felruary .p83). p. (italics in original).
28. Perhaps it will le helplul to keep in mind that ly .p86. with the re- presentation
ol the \erona project as Ve..o¸ 4··eos. í·es. ao1 0·|-· í··e·s. Eisenman had taken
this triadic structure to the stage ol reconsidering not only new lorms ol presen-
tation ol architectural concepts (the variously scaled and coordinated grids are
now represented not in conventional architectural drawings lut in a Plexiglas
lox ol loose acetate sheets that can le randomly rearranged ly the reader). lut
also new lorms ol distrilution in a commercially mass- produced olject with an
ironically mass- produced signature on its cover. thus polemically collapsing the
spaces ol architectural production. architectural pullication. and art commodity
production. Peter Eisenman. Ve..o¸ 4··eos. í·es ao1 0·|-· í··e·s. 4o 4·.|.·-.·o·-
e¡ 4!s-o.- (London.
Architectural Association. .p86).
29. Benjamin L. I. Buchloh. "Conceptual Art .p6.÷.p6p.
From the Aesthetic ol
Administration to the Critique ol Institutions.` 0.·e!-· ¡¡ (\inter .ppc). ....
R O1 E 8 1 O P A G E 8 6 6 ÷ 8 ¡ 183
30. Brecht used the term 6-s·os to signily lodily gesture as opposed to spoken word.
Eventually it came to le understood as the total process. the assemllage ol all
perlormative techniques into a single image.
31. Boland Barthes. !|- l|-aso·- e¡ ·|- !-r·. trans. Bichard Hiller (Rew ¥ork.
and \ang. .p¸¡ [French ed.. .p¸3]). p. .¡. Lacan makes the pleasure / jouissance
distinction in Jacques Lacan. !|- S-m.oa· 8ee| lll. !|- í·|..s e¡ ls,.|eaoa|,s.s.
:,¸,÷:,éc. ed. Jacques- Alain Hiller. trans. Iennis Porter (Rew ¥ork. Rorton.
32. For Lacan. lollowing Freud`s "Beyond the Pleasure Principle.` alsolute jouissance
is possille only in death. 1he link letween jouissance and the death drive is
most evident Lacan`s treatment ol Freud`s mention ol 1as u.o¸. the 1hing. which
names an emptiness at the center ol the Beal. a llack hole condensing the proper-
ties ol everything existing outside ol the signihed. 8ee Lacan. !|- S-m.oa· 8ee| lll.
!|- í·|..s e¡ ls,.|eaoa|,s.s. p. ....
33. 8igmund Freud. "Beyond the Pleasure Principle.` in !|- S·ao1a·1 í1.·.eo e¡ ·|-
6em¡|-·- ls,.|e|e¸..a| le·|s e¡ S.¸moo1 í·-o1. ed. James 8trachey (London.
Lo-garth Press. .p¡3÷.p¸¡). vol. .8. p. 36.
34. Ilid.. p. 38. It will le understood that to interpret the death drive as a wish lor
actual physical mortality is a misconception. Iesire necessarily emerges in
a "lound` state. invested in a system ol signs.
what Freud called a le·s·-||oo¸s-
·-¡·as-o·ao:. or a conceptual representative. a structure ol signihcation.
35. In his early work. Lacan situates the death drive in the Imaginary. descriling it as
a nostalgia lor lost harmony and a desire to return to the pre- oedipal connection
with the mother (one thinks ol Bossi`s yearning lor the Other). In the seminars
ol .p¡¡÷.p¡¡. however. Lacan argues that the death drive is the lundamental ten-
dency ol the 8ymlolic order to produce repetition. 1his shilts Freud`s liological
model to a hrmly cultural one. which is the model I have lollowed here. Lacan.
S-m.oa· ll. p. 3.6.
36. 1he structural alhnity ol this Freudian machine to Eisenman`s own negative
originology is registered ly critics like Bosalind Krauss. Kenneth Frampton. and
Anthony \idler. who have perceived in his work not only a preoccupation with
death lut also the hgure ol the uncanny. For the leeling ol the uncanny is gener-
ated precisely in the !-.em.o¸ aoa·- ol the repetition compulsion. "It must le
explained that we are alle to postulate the principle ol a repetition- compulsion
in the unconscious mind. lased upon instinctual activity and prolally inherent
in the very nature ol the instincts÷a principle powerlul enough to overrule the
pleasure- principle. . . . 1aken in all. the loregoing prepares us lor the discovery
that whatever reminds us ol this inner repetition- compulsion is perceived as
Freud. S·ao1a·1 í1.·.eo. vol. .¸. p. .38.
37. Peter Eisenman. "Introduction.` in 4|1e kess. .o 4m-·..a. :,,é ·e :,,,. ed. Kenneth
Frampton (Rew ¥ork. Institute ol Architecture and Irlan 8tudies. .p¸p). p. 3 (my
38. Boland Barthes has olserved that "the greatest modernist works linger as long
as possille. in a sort ol miraculous stasis. on the threshold ol Literature itsell.
in this anticipatory situation in which the density ol lile is given and developed
without yet leing destroyed through its consecration as an [institutionalized]
Boland Barthes. l·.·.o¸ u-¸·-- /-·e (Rew ¥ork.
Lill and \ang.
.p68). p. 3p.
39. Lacan. S-m.oa· ll. p. ..p.
E N C O U N T E R
1. Jacques Lacan. !|- S-m.oa· 8ee| lll. !|- í·|..s e¡ ls,.|eaoa|,s.s :,¸,÷:,éc. ed.
Jacques- Alain Hiller. trans. Iennis Porter (Rew ¥ork. Rorton. .pp.). p. .8..
2. John Lejduk. Vas| e¡ V-1osa. le·|s. :,¸,÷:,·`. ed. Kim 8hkapich (Rew ¥ork.
Bizzoli. .p8¡). p. ¡c.
3. John Lejduk. l·a.- [Practice] (Prague. OBEC ArchitektI. .pp.). p. 33.
4. "In painting. the English term still lile and the Italian term oa·o·a me··a haunt.
Rot an innocent comlining ol two words in English. 'still lile.` in Italian 'dead
nature.` Il the painter could. ly a single translormation. take a three- dimensional
still lile and paint it on a canvas into a oa·o·a me··a. could it le possille lor the
architect to take the natura morta ol a painting and. ly a single translormation.
luild it into a still lile¨` John Lejduk. 41¡os·.o¸ íeoo1a·.eos. ed. Kim 8hkapich
(Rew ¥ork. Honacelli Press. .pp¡). p. ¡8. It is uselul to compare Lejduk`s still lile
projects with Aldo Bossi`s domestic landscapes.
5. Lejduk. Vas| e¡ V-1osa. p. 6¸.
6. 1he early work ol Lejduk and Eisenman was presented together in í..- 4·.|.·-.·s
(Rew ¥ork. Oxlord Iniversity Press. .p¸.).
R O1 E 8 1 O P A G E 8 8 ¡ ÷ . c 3 185
7. Cited in Carol Armstrong and Laura Giles. 6-:aoo- .o íe.os. la·-·.e|e·s ¡·em ·|-
u-o·, kes- ao1 l-a·|mao 6e||-.·.eo (Princeton. Princeton Iniversity Art Huseum.
.cc.). p. 8c.
8. Lejduk. Vas| e¡ V-1osa. pp. 6.. ¡c. 6..
9. \alter Benjamin. "On 8ome Hotils in Baudelaire.` in l||om.oa·.eos. ed. Lannah
Arendt. trans. Larry Iohn (Rew ¥ork. 8chocken Books. .p¸¸). p. .88. 1he invoca-
tion ol Harcel Proust`s notion ol involuntary memory signals a kind ol memory
that seizes the viewer suddenly and unexpectedly. reminding him ol a previous
experience. lut with an allective intensity unavailalle to willlully revived
10. Jacques Lacan. !|- íeo· íoo1am-o·a| 6eo.-¡·s e¡ ls,.|e- 4oa|,s.s. trans. Alan
8heridan (Rew ¥ork. Rorton. .p¸8). p. .c¸.
11. "On one side ol the wall (the past). the circulatory elements÷ramp. stair. elevator÷
were placed. 1hey were volumetric. opaque. monochromatic. in perspective with
the structure grounded. 1he color was white. grey. llack. the materials reinlorced
concrete. steel and cement. Once the single inhalitant passed through the wall
he was in a space overlooking a landscape (trees¨ \ater¨ Earth¨ 8ky¨) which
was lasically private. contemplative and refective. 1here were three suspended
foors cantilevered lrom the collective elements. 1he materials on this side ol
the wall were glass and refective metal. a fuidity was sought alter. \hereas the
collective side was hard. tough. concrete. the private side was inwardly refec-
tive. a light shattering into lragments. mirror images moving along the polished
surlaces ol metal.` Lejduk. Vas| e¡ V-1osa. p. ¡p.
12. John Lejduk. l..·.ms (London. Architectural Association. .p86).
13. 4|1e kess.. je|o u-¡1o| (Iurich. Arleitslerichte der Architekturalteilung. .p¸3).
1he catalog is introduced with a German translation ol Colin Bowe`s introduction
to í..- 4·.|.·-.·s.
14. Ianiele \itale. "Inventions. 1ranslations. Analogies. Projects and Fragments ly
Aldo Bossi.` le·os lo·-·oa·.eoa| .¡ (.p¸p). ¡¡.
15. Lejduk. Vas| e¡ V-1osa. p. .36. 1he project was. in part. a response to the
call ly the organizers ol the .p¸¡ \enice Biennale to lring awareness to the
degraded state ol the Giudecca and the Hulino 8tucky and "to lring them lack
to lile.` 8ee Carlo Bipa di Heana and Christian Boltanski. 4 ¡·e¡es.·e 1-| Vo|.oe
S·o.|,. ío..·eom-1.a. ¡a··-..¡a:.eo. |.!-·- (4 l·e¡es e¡ Vo|.oe S·o.|,. ío..·eo-
m-1.a. í·-- 6eo··.!o·.eos) (\enice. Allieri. .p¸¡). p. ¡. 1he Hulino 8tucky was
a pasta mill at the western end ol the Giudecca designed ly Ernest \ullkopl in
the late nineteenth century. It was closed in .p¡¡ and was in ruin when Lejduk
made his proposal. 1his is the lull description ol the project. "1he Hulino
8tucky Building`s exteriors are painted llack. 1he Hulino 8tucky Building`s
interiors are painted white. 1he long. extended walls ol the Cemetery lor the
Ashes ol 1hought are llack on one side and white on the other side. 1he top
and end surlaces ol the long extended walls are grey. \ithin the walls are one
loot square holes at eye level. \ithin each one loot square hole is placed a
transparent cule containing ashes. Inder each hole upon the wall there is a
small lronze plaque indicating the title. and only the title ol a work. such as
Bememlrance ol 1hings Past. 1he Counterleiters. 1he Inlerno. Paradise Lost.
Holy Iick. etc. Ipon the exterior ol the walls ol the Hulino 8tucky Building
are small plaques with the names ol the authors ol the works. Proust. Gide.
Iante. Hilton. Helville. etc. In the lagoon on a man- made island is a small house
lor the sole halitation ol one individual lor a limited period ol time. Only
one individual lor a set period ol time may inhalit the house. no others will
le permitted to stay on the island during its occupation. 1he lone individual
looks across the lagoon to the Cemetery lor the Ashes ol 1hought.` Beprinted
in Lejduk. Vas| e¡ V-1osa. p. 8c.
16. Lejduk. Vas| e¡ V-1osa. p. 8¡. "\hat I am doing is I am the questionnaire upon
the question. I am the interrogation upon the interrogator. 8o when Bossi and
all those things in Europe are going on. the totalitarian stull which has to do with
deep political and social meanings. then I answer it with 1he Cemetery lor the
Ashes ol 1hought. People did see that. lut laly. nolody talks alout that project.
1he Cemetery lor the Ashes ol 1hought was one man`s conlrontation with that
whole European condition.` Ilid.. p. .3c.
17. Lacan. !|- S-m.oa· 8ee| lll. !|- í·|..s e¡ ls,.|eaoa|,s.s. p. .... 1his is the pas-
sage lrom Leidegger. "\hen we hll the jug. the pouring that hlls it fows into
the empty jug. 1he emptiness. the void. is what does the vessel`s holding. 1he
empty space. this nothing ol the jug. is what the jug is as the holding vessel. . . .
But il the holding is done ly the jug`s void. then the potter who lorms sides and
R O1 E 8 1 O P A G E 8 . c 3 ÷ . . c 187
lottom on his wheel does not. strictly speaking. make the jug. Le only shapes the
clay. Ro÷he shapes the void. . . . 1he vessel`s thingness does not lie at all in the
material ol which it consists. lut in the void that holds. Hartin Leidegger. "1he
1hing.` in le-··,. lao¸oa¸-. !|eo¸|·. trans. A. Lolstadter (Rew ¥ork. Larper and
Bow. .p¸.). p. .6p.
18. In 8eminar \II. Lacan claims that art as such is always organized around the
central void ol the impossille- real 1hing. and mentions in particular the lunc-
tioning ol the void in the visual arts and in architecture.
19. Freud. "Project lor a 8cientihc Psychology.` in !|- S·ao1a·1 í1.·.eo e¡ ·|- 6em¡|-·-
ls,.|e|e¸..a| le·|s e¡ S.¸moo1 í·-o1. ed. James 8trachey (London.
.p¡3÷.p¸¡). vol. .. p. 33..
20. Lacan. !|- S-m.oa· 8ee| lll. !|- í·|..s e¡ ls,.|eaoa|,s.s. p. ¸..
21. Ilid.. p. .¡c.
22. Ilid.. pp. ¸.. ¡8.
23. Lejduk. Vas| e¡ V-1osa. p. 83.
24. 8ee Jacques- Alain Hiller. "Extimite.` in la.ao.ao !|-e·, e¡ u.s.eo·s-. So!¡-.·.
S··o.·o·-. ao1 Se..-·,. ed. Hark Bracher et al. (Rew ¥ork. Rew ¥ork Iniversity
Press. .pp¡). Lacan uses the term inlrequently. lut it is elalorated ly Hiller "to
designate in a prollematic manner the real in the symlolic` (p. ¸¡). "Extimacy
says that the intimate is Other` (p. ¸6).
25. Bay Bradlury. !|- Va.|.o-·.-s e¡ je, (Rew ¥ork. 8imon and 8chuster. .p6¡). p.
¡3. cited in Gilles Ieleuze and Felix Guattari. 4 !|eosao1 l|a·-aos (Hinneapolis.
Iniversity ol Hinnesota Press. .p8¸). p. .6..
26. H. H. Bakhtin. ka!-|a.s ao1 u.s le·|1. trans. Lelene Iswolsky (Camlridge. HI1
Press. .p68). p. 3.¸.
27. Lejduk. Vas| e¡ V-1osa. p. 3p.
28. Jean- Paul 8artre. 8-.o¸ ao1 |e·|.o¸o-ss. 4o íssa, eo l|-oem-oe|e¸..a| 0o·e|e¸,.
trans. Lazel E. Barnes (London. Hethuen. .p¡¸). p. .88. Lacan`s own interest in
Christianity lollowed lrom the vocation it shared with psychoanalysis to deal with
what can never le lully known.
29. "John Lejduk or. 1he Architect \ho Irew Angels.` conversation with Iavid
8hapiro. 4·.|.·-.·o·- ao1 |·!ao.sm. no. .¡¡ (.pp.). 6..
30. For a discussion ol Lejduk`s work as a peculiarly American quest lor a promised
land. see Catherine Ingraham. "Errand. Ietour. and the \ilderness Irlanism ol
John Lejduk.` in u-¡1o|`s 6|·eoe·e¡-. ed. K. Hichael Lays (Rew ¥ork. Princeton
Architectural Press. .pp6). pp. ..p÷.¡..
31. 1he entire suite ol thirty- two Enclosures is pullished in K. Hichael Lays. Sao.·oa·-
.-s. !|- las· le·|s e¡ je|o u-¡1o| (Rew ¥ork. \hitney Huseum. .cc3).
32. Le Corlusier. 0-o.·- .em¡|-·- :,¸é÷¸a (Iurich. Girslerger. .p¡3). p. 88.
33. Gilles Ieleuze and Felix Guattari. "¥ear Iero. Faciality.` in 4 !|eosao1 l|a·-aos.
34. Ilid.. p. .6¸. Ieleuze and Guattari luild on and "correct` Lacan and 8artre in
terms ol the gaze. "1he gaze is lut secondary in relation to the gazeless eyes. to the
llack hole ol laciality. 1he mirror is lut secondary in relation to the white wall ol
laciality` (p. .¸.).
S P A C I N G
1. Bernard 1schumi. "1he Pleasure ol Architecture.` in ¸o-s·.eos e¡ S¡a.-. l-.·o·-s
eo 4·.|.·-.·o·- (London. AA Pullications. .ppc). p. ¡¡.
2. Bernard 1schumi. 4·.|.·-.·o·- ao1 u.s¡oo.·.eo (Camlridge. HI1 Press. .pp¡).
1here are lew serious treatments ol 1schumi`s early work. 1he lest remains Louis
Hartin. "1ranspositions. On the Intellectual Origins ol 1schumi`s Architectural
1heory.` 4ss-m!|a¸-. no. .. (April .ppc).
3. Bernard 1schumi. "Questions ol 8pace. 1he Pyramid and the Lalyrinth (or the
Architectural Paradox).` S·o1.e lo·-·oa·.eoa|. 8eptemler- Octoler .p¸¡. p. .38.
1he essay was pullished in a slightly dillerent lorm as "1he Architectural Paradox.`
in 4·.|.·-.·o·- ao1 u.s¡oo.·.eo.
4. Ilid.. p. .38.
5. 1heodor Adorno. "Functionalism 1oday` (.p6¡). trans. Jane Rauman and John
8mith. 0¡¡es.·.eos .¸ (8ummer .p¸p). 3¸.
6. 1schumi. "Questions ol 8pace.` p. .¡..
7. Ilid.. pp. .¡.. .38.
8. Ilid.. p. .¡.. Adorno writes. "1he phenomenon ol hreworks is prototypical lor
artworks. . . . Fireworks are apparitions [par excellence]. they appear empirically
yet are lilerated lrom the lurden ol the empirical. which is the olligation lor
duration. they are a sign lrom heaven yet artilactual. an ominous warning. a script
R O1 E 8 1 O P A G E 8 . . c ÷ . ¡ . 189
that fashes up. vanishes. and indeed cannot le read lor its meaning.` 1heodor \.
Adorno. 4-s·|-·.. !|-e·,. trans. Bolert Lullot- Kentor (Hinneapolis. Iniversity
ol Hinnesota Press. .pp¸). p. .c¸.
9. 1schumi. "Questions ol 8pace.` p. .¡..
10. Jacques Lacan. í.·.·s. 4 S-|-.·.eo. trans. Alan 8heridan (Rew ¥ork. Rorton. .p¸¸).
11. Bernard 1schumi. "Architecture and 1ransgression.` in 4·.|.·-.·o·- ao1 u.s¡oo.·.eo.
p. ¸3. Originally pullished in 0¡¡es.·.eos ¸ (\inter .p¸6). For one ol the lew
accounts ol Advertisements. see Kari Jormakka. "1he Host Architectural 1hing.`
in So··-a|.sm ao1 4·.|.·-.·o·-. ed. 1homas Hical (London. Boutledge. .cc¡).
12. 1schumi. "Architecture and 1ransgression.` p. ¸6.
13. Ilid.. p. p¡.
14. It is interesting to note that in Lacan`s reading ol the Antigone story in 8eminar
\II. the key term is 4·-. normally meaning late or doom lut which he renders
as "transgression.` Antigone transgresses Creon`s laws and laces death in a way
adequate to her desire.
15. "8omething on the order ol a so!¡-.· can le discerned on the recording surlace.
It is a strange sulject. however. with no hxed identity. wandering alout over the
lody without organs. lut always remaining peripheral to the desiring- machines.
leing dehned ly the share ol the product it takes lor itsell. garnering here. there.
and everywhere a reward. in the lorm ol a lecoming or an avatar. leing lorn ol
the states that it consumes and leing relorn with each new state. 'It`s me. and
so it`s mine` [.`-s· 1eo. me.. .`-s· 1eo. a me.]. . . . 1he sulject is produced as a
mere residue alongside the desiring machines.` Gilles Ieleuze and Felix Guattari.
4o·.- 0-1.¡os (Rew ¥ork. \iking Press. .p¸¸). pp. .¸÷.p.
16. Bernard 1schumi. !|- Vao|a··ao !·aos.·.¡·s. !|-e·-·..a| l·e¡-.·s (Rew ¥ork. Academy
Editions. .p8.). p. xxviii.
17. Georges Bataille. "1he Rotion ol Expenditure.` in l.s.eos e¡ ír.-ss. S-|-.·-1
l·.·.o¸s. :,a,÷:,`, (Hinneapolis. Iniversity ol Hinnesota Press. .p8¡). p. ..8.
18. 1he program lor the 1ranscripts is lased on "the most common lormula plot. the
archetype ol murder.` 1schumi. !|- Vao|a··ao !·aos.·.¡·s. p. ¸. In archetypal
terms. murder is the interlace letween nature and culture. the lounding violence
that sets in motion the entire symlolic economy.
19. In this regard. on the topic ol reihcation. it is as il 1schumi plays Ielord against
Bossi`s Lukacs and Eisenman`s Adorno.
20. !s.|om. eo 4·.|.·-.·o·-. 6eo.-·sa·.eos o.·| ío·.¸o- la||-· (Rew ¥ork. Honacelli
Press. .cc6). p. 3¡.
21. 1he competition was held in .p8.÷.p83. 1schumi was awarded the project in
.p83. Later came the pullications la 6as- l.1-. la l.||-··-. :,·¸ (London. Architec-
tural Association. .p86). and 6.o-¸·amm- íe|.-. l- la·. 1- |a l.||-··- (Princeton.
Princeton Architectural Press. .p8¸). loth ol which should le understood not as
mere records ol the project lut as lurther instantiations ol it.
22. Jacques Ierrida. les.·.eos. trans. Alan Bass (Chicago. Iniversity ol Chicago Press.
.p8.). p. .¸.
23. Jacques Ierrida. "Point de lolie÷Haintenant l`architecture.` trans. Kate Linker.
in la 6as- l.1-. p. ¸.
24. 1schumi is quite explicit alout this in a .p88 lecture on La \illette pullished as
"Ie- . Iis- . Ex- .` in k-ma|.o¸ u.s·e·,. ed. Barlara Kruger and Phil Hariani
(8eattle. Bay Press lor Iia Art Foundation. .p8p).
25. Is it just a lascinating coincidence that. at the very end ol his career in .p¸¡÷.p¸6.
Lacan gave a seminar on James Joyce. under the title l- s.o·|em-¨ 1he seminar
extends the Beal- 8ymlolic- Imaginary triad. adding a lourth component. the sin-
thome (an old French spelling ol s,m¡·em). as that which holds together the knot
ol the triad constantly threatening to come undone (therely supplementing the
stalilizing and nominating lunctions ol the Rame- ol- the- Father). 1he rupture
that the sinthome indexes is most apparent in the art ol writing. particularly in
Joyce`s í.oo-¸aos la|-.
26. 1schumi`s recollection ol the importance ol Archizoom. "I was lascinated ly the
images and the sultext ol Archizoom and had invited them to the AA. Even today.
I think |e- S·e¡ 6.·, is one ol the strokes ol genius ol that period and dehnitely
one ol the most important projects ol the second hall ol the twentieth century.
|e- S·e¡ 6.·, shed light on how an architectural activity could le critical. how
one could develop critical thinking ly means ol a project. as opposed to a written
article÷with the same. or more ellect. It was an ironic statement ol extraordinary
architectural intelligence. which acknowledged that as an intellectual. one cannot
change the system. only verily it and show where it is going. It also means that.
R O1 E 8 1 O P A G E 8 . ¡ . ÷ . 6 8 191
paradoxically. one may hnd onesell one day in the situation ol actually luilding
one`s verihcation.` !s.|om. eo 4·.|.·-.·o·-. p. .p.
27. 6.o-¸·amm- íe|.-. p. .¸.
28. "It is lecause ol 1.¡¡-·ao.- that the movement ol signihcation is possille only il
each so- called 'present` element. each element appearing on the scene ol pres-
ence. is related to something other than itsell. therely keeping within itsell the
mark ol the past element. and already letting itsell le vitiated ly the mark ol its
relation to the luture element. this trace leing related no less to what is called the
luture than to what is called the past. and constituting what is called the present
ly means ol this very relation to what it is not. what it alsolutely is not. not even
a past or a luture as a modihed present. An interval must separate the present
lrom what it is not in order lor the present to le itsell. . . . In constituting itsell.
in dividing itsell dynamically. this interval is what might le called s¡a..o¸. the
lecoming- space ol time or the lecoming- time ol space (·-m¡e·.:a·.eo·. Jacques
Ierrida. "Iillerence` (.p¸.). in Va·¸.os e¡ l|.|ese¡|,. trans. Alan Bass (Chicago.
Iniversity ol Chicago Press. .p8.). p. .3.
29. Ierrida. "Point de lolie.` p. ¸.
30. Jacques Lacan. !|- íeo· íoo1am-o·a| 6eo.-¡·s e¡ ls,.|e- 4oa|,s.s. trans. Alan
8heridan (Rew ¥ork. Rorton. .p¸8). p. .¡..
31. Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Houlle. u-¸-meo, ao1 Se..a|.s· S··a·-¸, (London.
32. 1he so- called nine- square prollem÷a grid ol three ly three squares used to in-
vestigate the purely lormal relationship letween center and periphery. plane and
volume. grid and insertions÷led to Lejduk`s 1exas Louse series (.p¡¡÷.p63) and
is related to Peter Eisenman`s hrst house projects. 1he nine- square prollem was a
loundational project in design studios at Cooper Inion. 8ee John Lejduk. Vas| e¡
V-1osa. le·|s. :,¸,÷:,·`. ed. Kim 8hkapich (Rew ¥ork. Bizzoli. .p8¡). pp. 3¸÷38.
33. Bem Koolhaas. u-|.·.eos |-o Ie·|. 4 k-··ea.·..- Vao.¡-s·e (Rew ¥ork. Oxlord
Iniversity Press. .p¸8).
34. Bem Koolhaas et al.. Sma||. V-1.om. la·¸-. ír··a- |a·¸- (Rew ¥ork. Honacelli.
.pp¡). p. ¡..
35. Bem Koolhaas. "1he Iltimate Atlas lor the ..st Century.` l.·-1 (June .cc3). .6p.
36. 1his economic- technological 1hing is only a specihc instance ol a more general
relationship to the 1hing that is capital. As Iizek has suggested. "1oday more than
ever. capital is the 1hing ¡a· -r.-||-o.-. a chimeric apparition which. although it
can no where le spotted as a positive. clearly delimited entity. nevertheless lunc-
tions as the ultimate 1hing regulating our lives.` 8lavoj Iizek. ío¡e, Ieo· S,m¡·em.
ja.¸o-s la.ao .o ue||,oee1 ao1 0o· (London. Boutledge. .cc.). pp. ...÷..3.
37. Bem Koolhaas. "Junkspace.` in Chuihua Judy Chung. Jellrey Inala. et al.. eds..
ua·.a·1 u-s.¸o S.|ee| 6o.1- ·e S|e¡¡.o¸ (Cologne. 1aschen. .cc.).
38. 1he value ol this evolution is. ol course. more amliguous than I have put it here.
Consider 8anlord Kwinter`s assertion that "architecture has legun to vanish as a
discipline. and some ol us are not mourning. Hore and more. we like to think ol
practice in lar more generic and elastic terms. we think ol what we do as 1-s.¸o.
and like the generations lelore us. we leel the need lor an escape velocity that
might carry us leyond the sclerosis ol inherited loundaries.` 8anlord Kwinter.
"Leap in the \oid. A Rew Organon¨` in 4o,|eo (Camlridge. HI1 Press. .pp8).
p. .¡. It is interesting in this context to le reminded ol Koolhaas`s reaction to
this manilesto launched ly 8anlord Kwinter and joined ly Alejandro Iaera- Polo.
Ben van Berkel. and Greg Lynn during the .pp¸ Anyhow conlerence in Bot-
terdam. "1hey had lresh and new amlitions and postures÷antisemantic. purely
operational÷represented in virtuoso computer (in)animation. . . . I rememler
leing critical ol their claim. then. that they had gone leyond lorm to sheer per-
lormance. and their claim that they had gone leyond the semantic in to the purely
instrumental and strictly operation. \hat I hnd (still) lalfing is their hostility
to the semantic. 8emiotics is more triumphant than ever÷as evidenced. lor
example. in the corporate world or lranding÷and the semantic critique may
le more uselul than ever. . . . It seems a potential tragedy that. once again. archi-
tectural discourse is hostile to a phenomenon at the moment ol its greatest use.`
Bem Koolhaas. "8pot Check. A Conversation letween Bem Koolhaas and 8arah
\hiting.` 4ss-m!|a¸- ¡c (Iecemler .ppp). ¡6.
39. 1he suggestion here is that the category ol late avant- garde holds within itsell at
a smaller scale its own moments ol realism. modernism. and postmodernism.
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