Peter Eisenman

Architect (1932)

Internationally recognized for his work as an architect, theoretician and professor, in the 1980s, Peter Eisenman came to be known as the leading figure of deconstructivism in the field of architecture. His singular approach to the project, which sought to achieve a disjunction of form from function and signification, is a direct theory-based challenge of architectural thinking about these three key aspects of architecture. The strong cultural ties he maintained with European intellectuals such as Colin Rowe, Manfredo Tafuri and Jacques Derrida deeply influenced both his writing and his architectural designs. Language and the parallel he consistently draws between philosophy, linguistics and architecture provide the foundations for an extremely rigorous approach to the project, which, from a critical point of view, involves a rethinking of architecture in terms of its history, the way it functions and its limits. Eisenman starts with culture as the raw material for his projects, aiming to remove architecture from the dominance of visual considerations and modernist dogmatism. This “theoretical practice,” which defines his approach, has led him to base his projects on a new syntax. The concepts of “text,” diagram, graft, trace, superposition, interstitial space, etc. have led him to invent spatial configurations that seek to intensify the user’s spatial and temporal experience of the built environment. Among his major projects one can cite the Aronoff Center (1988-96), the Greater Columbus Convention Center (1990-93), the Staten Island Museum (1997-2001), the Garden of Lost Footsteps (2003) of the Castelvecchio Museum in Verona and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin (2005). He is currently working on his project for the City of Culture of Galicia in Santiago de Compostela and on the new train station for Pompeii.

Now a professor at Yale University, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Peter Eisenman (1932) was awarded the Golden Lion at the 2004 Venice Biennale for his lifetime achievements. In 1967 he was a founding member of the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies (IAUS), where he served as president until 1982. Co-representative of the U.S., along with Frank Gehry, at the 1991 Venice Biennale, he also was editor-in-chief until 1982 of Oppositions magazine. Peter Eisenman has written numerous books on theory. At the time of the exhibition entitled Deconstructivist Architecture held by the MoMA in New York in 1988, he already had a well-established career as a theoretician and professor. A member of the influential group of architects, New York Five, he developed a radically conceptual approach to architecture, notably through a series of thirteen experimental houses he designed in which he attempted to demonstrate that geometry alone could be used to define space.

Nadine Labedade

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