Peter Eisenman

From Academic Kids

Missing image
One of Eisenman's homes from his New York Five period

Peter Eisenman (b. Newark, New Jersey 1932) is one of the foremost practitioners of deconstructivism in American architecture. Eisenman's fragmented forms are identified with an eclectic group of architects that have been, at times unwillingly, labelled deconstructivists. Although Eisenman shuns the label, he has had a history of controversy aimed at keeping him in the public (academic) eye. His theories on architecture pursue the emancipation and autonomy of the discipline and his work represents a continued attempt to liberate form from all meaning, a struggle that most find difficult to understand. The work of philosopher Jacques Derrida is a key influence in Eisenman's architecture. He is often seen in a bowtie.

Eisenman first rose to prominence as a member of the New York Five, five architects (Eisenman, Charles Gwathmey, John Hedjuk, Richard Meier, and Michael Graves) whose work was the subject of an exhibition at MoMA in 1969. These architects' work at the time was often considered a reworking of the ideas of Le Corbusier. Subsequently, the five architects each developed unique styles and ideologies, with Eisenman becoming more affiliated with the Deconstructivist movement.

Eisenman's focus on "liberating" architectural form was successful from an academic and theoretical standpoint -- that is, it got him a lot of attention -- but resulted in structures that were badly built and hostile to users. The Wexner Center, hotly anticipated as the first major public deconstructivist building, has required extensive and expensive retrofitting because of elementary design flaws (such as incompetent material specifications, and fine art exhibition space exposed to direct sunlight). Its spatial grammar of colliding planes also tends to make users disoriented to the point of nausea, and Eisenman has been known to chuckle in lectures about making people vomit.

Eisenman's "House VI", designed for client Suzanne Frank in the late 1970's, confounds user expectations with such fun-house stunts as an exterior column that does not reach the ground, an linear notch in the bedroom floor that prevented Ms. Frank and her huband from sleeping in the same bed, and antagonistic space planning. Frank was initially sympathetic and patient with Eisenman's theories and demands. But after years of fixes to the badly-specified and misbegotten "House VI" had first broken the Franks' budget then consumed their life savings, Frank was prompted to strike back with a book-length response, a fascinating bit of black humor and one of the most revealing documents in 20th Century architecture.

As of 2004 Eisenman has rejected all theory.

Buildings and works

External links

fr:Peter Eisenman sv:Peter Eisenman


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