My buddy Lee, with Lee Calisti Architecture + Design, has a recent post where he poses the question “where are we, where am I”, speaking about the current state of architecture and geo-political economics, etc. And he makes the point that architecture today is in flux, changing, at breakneck speeds. Technology is only increasing each and every day making it more and more difficult to keep up with the latest tools, let alone keep up with the latest design trends in a world wide community.
What I like most about this post was the video at the end. An interview by Archdaily with Peter Eisenman in which they ask “what do you think about American architecture today?” A bold question to ask one of our generations starchitects.
Peter responds by first talking about what he calls a “pivotal time” in architecture (this time being the late 60s and early 70s) where there was an architectural identity in which “architecture changed from being practical and pragmatic to being theoretical and cultural”, and goes on to say that architecture today is basically without an “ism” (i.e. Post-Modernism, Deconstructivism, Neoclassicism). And today’s architects, being without this identity, a founding ism, or dogma are sort of floundering around looking for that sense of architectural self.
I tend to agree with Peter that architecture today lacks a particular identity. But I also think the lack of a singular identity has allowed architects to get back to a root cause of architecture that is project specific. For so many years our architecture had a style, a dogma, a set of aesthetic principles that were followed based on nothing more than visual appeal or some other guiding principle rather than on some specific expression of the site, surroundings or even the function. Architecture, today, I think, has reclaimed that sense of place even in a world of expanding modular capabilities where buildings are no longer constructed on site, but rather shipped and lifted into place.
What I’ve seen is the design process shift to a more sensitive and site specific approach to design that maybe was lacking in years past. What about you? Do you think Peter is right when he says young architects today should “get ready for a time when there is a possibility of making architecture again?” Or are we already there?