An Introduction to Architectural Theory: 1968 to the Present
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.
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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.
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