World's Greatest Architect: Making, Meaning, and Network Culture

Front Cover
MIT Press, Aug 1, 2008 - Architecture - 168 pages
1 Review

Artifacts (including works of architecture) play dual roles; they simultaneously perform functions and carry meaning. Columns support roofs, but while the sturdy Tuscan and Doric types traditionally signify masculinity, the slim and elegant Ionic and Corinthian kinds read as feminine. Words are often inscribed on objects. (On a door: "push" or "pull.") Today, information is digitally encoded (dematerialized) and displayed (rematerialized) to become part of many different objects, at one moment appearing on a laptop screen and at another, perhaps, on a building facade (as in Times Square). Well-designed artifacts succeed in being both useful and meaningful. In World's Greatest Architect, William Mitchell offers a series of snapshots -- short essays and analyses -- that examine the systems of function and meaning currently operating in our buildings, cities, and global networks.

In his writing, Mitchell makes connections that aren't necessarily obvious but are always illuminating, moving in one essay from Bush-Cheney's abuse of language to Robert Venturi's argument against rigid ideology and in favor of graceful pragmatism. He traces the evolution of Las Vegas from Sin/Sign City to family-friendly resort and residential real estate boomtown. A purchase of chips leads not only to a complementary purchase of beer but to thoughts of Eames chairs (like Pringles) and Gehry (fun to imitate with tortilla chips in refried beans). As for who the world's greatest architect might be, here's a hint: he's also the oldest.


What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - mjgrogan - LibraryThing

Spoiler alert - by "Worlds Greatest Architect" Mitchell does not reference himself. As usual, I appreciate Mitchell's witty observations about computers, Hurricanes, reality TV shows, cell towers ... Read full review


Making Meaning
Kicking the Bottle 1
Paper Wonders 5
Viva Venturi 9
Loveliest of Trees 17
Albertis Anniversary 21
The Net Has a Thousand Eyes 25
Surveillance Cookbook 33
Deep Focus 77
Dappled Things 81
Morphology of the Biopic 85
Little Blue Coupe 89
Bicycle Socialism 93
Faux Book 97
Man of Steel 101
Its Not Easy 105

Forget Foreign Wars 37
Everyday Low 41
Texas Chain Store 45
Right Place at the Wrong Time 49
Best Practices 53
Mama Dont Take My Megapixels 57
Instruments and Algorithms 61
Theory of Black Holes 65
Elegy in a Landfill 69
Theory of Everything 73
Imagined Wall Street 109
The Eagle Flies 113
Architectural Assassination 115
Urban Plastination 119
Civic Immunology 123
Worlds Greatest Architect 131
Writing and the Web 135
Index 139

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Bibliographic information