An Introduction to Architectural Theory: 1968 to the Present

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John Wiley & Sons, Mar 16, 2011 - Architecture - 288 pages
A sharp and lively text that covers issues in depth but not to the point that they become inaccessible to beginning students, An Introduction to Architectural Theory is the first narrative history of this period, charting the veritable revolution in architectural thinking that has taken place, as well as the implications of this intellectual upheaval.
  • The first comprehensive and critical history of architectural theory over the last fifty years
  • surveys the intellectual history of architecture since 1968, including criticisms of high modernism, the rise of postmodern and poststructural theory, critical regionalism and tectonics
  • Offers a comprehensive overview of the significant changes that architectural thinking has undergone in the past fifteen years
  • Includes an analysis of where architecture stands and where it will likely move in the coming years

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This book describes the key players in the architectural scene in the last half century. It is wonderfully detailed account sure to prove useful to the architectural student. However, the book lacks a clear frame of reference for the multiplicity of details.
A useful frame of reference to this reviewer is influenced by the writings of Charles Jencks. It holds that, since the nineties, the term contemporary architecture is a hybrid of the qualities of two ways of seeing architecture: postmodernism and late modernism. In the sixties, these were alternate reactions to the crisis of modernism. One of these reactions looked to the past while the other saw the potential of the future. With this frame of reference, practically any building put up today can be categorized within one of these four paradigms.
Clearly the authors have a different point of view. In the book's index the terms modernism and postmodernism appear more than a hundred times, while neither the term late modernism or contemporary architecture appear at all.
Perhaps an alternate frame of reference is justified, but the authors fail to describe it. The reader is interested not only in the description of the multiple fragments of architectural history but also, and more importantly, in how these fragments make up a coherent whole.
Possibly the authors feel that a coherent whole simply does not exist in the context of architectural history in the period described. This fragmentation is reflected in the deconstructive nature of the book. If the authors feel that architectural history in this last half century does not have a clear structure, they would do well to express it in an explicit manner.


List of Illustrations
The Crisis of Meaning
Early Postmodernism
Modernism Abides
Postmodernism and Critical Regionalism
Traditionalism and New Urbanism
Gilded Age of Theory
Wake of the Storm
Pragmatism and PostCriticality
Sustainability and Beyond

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About the author (2011)

Harry Francis Mallgrave is Professor of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology, and has enjoyed a distinguished career as an award-winning scholar, translator, and architect. His most recent publications include The Architect's Brain (Wiley-Blackwell 2010), Modern Architectural Theory: A Historical Survey, 1673-1968, Architectural Theory Volume I: An Anthology from Vitruvius to 1870 (Wiley-Blackwell 2005) and, with co-editor Christina Contandriopoulos, Architectural Theory Volume II: An Anthology from 1871 to 2005 (Wiley-Blackwell 2008).

David Goodman is Studio Assistant Professor of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology and is co-principal of R+D Studio. He has also taught architecture at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design, and Boston Architectural College. His work has appeared in the journal Log, in the anthology Chicago Architecture: Histories, Revisions, Alternatives, and in the Northwestern University Press publication Walter Netsch: A Critical Appreciation and Sourcebook.

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