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Giuseppe Terragni: Transformations, Decompositions, Critiques

2.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1885254962
ISBN-10: 1885254962
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Peter Eisenman is principal of Eisenman Architects in New York, Louis I. Kahn Professor of Architecture at Yale University, the author of a great number of books and articles, and the subject of many others, including Blurred Zones: Investigations of the Interstitial; Eisenman Architects 1988-1998.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: The Monacelli Press (August 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1885254962
  • ISBN-13: 978-1885254962
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.2 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,075,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
For a book that was 40 years in the making, it tells us little about Terragni, but a great deal about Eisenman. So much so, one wonders whether this was in fact the purpose of the book. As usual, Eisenman busies himself 'decoding' things that were never coded in the first place. Eisenman never saw a wall he wasn't willing to develop a theory about. - Often, - where none was intended by Terragni - Eisenman steps in to fill the void with his own irrational and highly subjective musings. True to form Eisenman adds a whole slew of invented words into his text. Diagrams of Eisenman's own design are selectively overlaid on photos and plans to support Eisenman's theory of the month. The usual architectural gibberish abounds. And the author grabs at any fashionable social, critical, cultural or mathematical theory available to agrandize himself (or his intellectual view of himself) and seem more intelligent than he is. In the end, he offers little or nothing (nothing useful that is) to an understanding of Terragni's work. Most interestingly, Eisenman never once documents that he finds the building beautiful. Perhaps he was so busy ratifying obscure positions, he failed to identify the underlying aesthetic ideal that Terragni surely had in mind. Thus, it is a thoroughly joyless book. One wonders how someone could spend 40 years researching a subject and fail to convey any sense of enthusiasm or delight in the Casa Del Fascio. (I read this book as part of my Master's Program researching Italian Rationalism. There are a great number of writers who have much to say about the style. Eisenman is not one of them.)
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Format: Hardcover
Over the years (decades actually), Peter Eisenman's "Terragni" took on something of the urban myth, an elusive, unpublished work, supposedly of great genius. Draft copies were jealously hoarded by a few insiders adding to the myth. Now, after 40 years, it appears in print, no longer only the stuff of legend, but an actuality exposed to real scrutiny. Frankly, the wait has not been worth it. Exhaustively drafted from every conceivable projection and angle, the images of the building are accompanied by a text (a `critical text', the author repeatedly informs us), that pushes the limits only of the ridiculous. For example: the plan of the Casa del Fascio, Eisenman "discovers", is a square, or rather, almost a square. In order to satisfy Eisenman's supposition, the true square, it seems, is realized only when particular window is opened fully to the 90 degree position, thereby implying a volumetric extension of the building, which then completes the so-called purity of the geometry. The fact that other windows on other sides of the building might also be opened at the same time thereby undermining the purported geometrical purity, does not seemed to have occurred to the author so blinded is he by the supposed brilliance of this, the most pretentious of studies. Numerous equally untenable speculations flesh out the remainder of this overwrought, but ultimately fruitless examination. Terragni's classical parti is studiously avoided by the author who is largely ignorant of the precepts that underlie this, the most basic formal arrangement that Terragni carried through his design. Eisenman stretches similar guesswork beyond the point of irritation as though insulting the intelligence of his readers is one of the underlying purposes of this book.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Eisenman dissects the Casa Del Fascio as a pathologist would examine a corpse. In simplistic diagrams the building's parts are duly chronicled in uninspired prose. One is left with the impression that he has examined a piece of graph paper with coordinates and alignments. That the building represented human endeavor, or embodied cultural aspirations seems lost on Eisenman in this humdrum attempt at scholarship.

Knowing the nihilistic, anti-human qualities of Eisenman's superficial approach to design, and the ever-mutable "logic" in his work, this is no surprise. He lacks any intuitive understanding of space or scale and a lifetime of pretentious writing has not equipped him for the serious task at hand. Ever since Eisenman indulged himself placing columns in the middle of a client's dining table, he has gotten away with his preposterous intellectual gimmickry, passing it off as "challenging", the stock-in-trade excuse for ridiculous and contrived design. [Interestingly, when it came to his own apartment, Eisenman handed off the work to another firm who produced a fairly cozy design. This hypocrisy shows a lack of sincerity in his unrefined speculations, and no thinking person should ever take Eisenman seriously again.]

This lowbrow rhetoric has served as a handy tool for the mediocre academic whose primary audience is susceptible students. But Eisenman's shaky credibility is rapidly and thankfully waning, the result of absurd quasi-intellectual hypotheses which produced crude buildings, no single one of which has achieved enduring respect. Revisionist histories already marginalize him as a sideshow huckster, an irritating distraction from more meaningful debates developing elsewhere.
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