PETER EISENMAN with MIROSLAVA BROOKS
From a conversation between Peter Eisenman, Miroslava Brooks, and John Kleinschmidt.
Our world right now is anti-hierarchical, decentralized, and against power. This cultural condition begs the question: how do we uncouple architecture from power? Symmetries are at the heart of architectural power—think of Fascist, Communist, and Nazi architecture. A way to get at that power is to deny symmetry, and the diptych offers a way to explore that. In the realm of the diptych—just as in the world of the algorithm and the digital—the vertical is the critical surface. Our site for this studio—the Palazzo Rucellai—
is essentially a facade. In my own body of work I have always been interested in the plan and never the vertical surface, so this represents a significant shift.
What I do follows naturally from a desire to animate the current architectural situation, which I believe has lost authority for two reasons. First, the computer has taken over as the new authority. Second, we don’t have any more giants in the field. When I was in school, Frank Lloyd Wright was the giant. Then it was Louis Kahn, then Le Corbusier, Aldo Rossi, Jim Stirling, Michael Graves…there was always a dominant figure. Authority is a necessary condition for resistance. Therefore, I argue that we need to resurrect authority. I teach and write about Palladio and Alberti because history acknowledges them as giants, and it’s better to learn something about them than learn about someone “of the moment” who is not an authority figure.
I write, I practice, I teach. Those are the three things I think are important as a model of behavior. I assume that the students who take my studio understand that this is one way rather than the only way. The more strong voices we have here at Yale, the more choices students will have – and the better off they’ll be.