The architecture of aftermath
The September 11 terrorist attacks targeted, in Osama bin Laden’s words, “America’s icons of military and economic power.” In The Architecture of Aftermath, Terry Smith argues that it was no accident that these targets were buildings: architecture has long served as a symbol of proud, defiant power—and never more so than in the late twentieth century.
But after September 11, Smith asserts, late modern architecture suddenly seemed an indulgence. With close readings of key buildings—including Jørn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House, Minoru Yamasaki’s World Trade Center, Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and Richard Meier’s Getty Center—Smith traces the growth of the spectacular architecture of modernity and then charts its aftermath in the conditions of contemporaneity. Indeed, Smith focuses on the very culture of aftermath itself, exploring how global politics, clashing cultures, and symbolic warfare have changed the way we experience destination architecture.
Like other artists everywhere, architects are responding to the idea of aftermath by questioning the viability of their forms and the validity of their purposes. With his richly illustrated The Architecture of Aftermath, Smith has done so as well.
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