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Friday, August 12, 2016

Book Review: Conversations with Peter Eisenman

Conversations with Peter Eisenman: The Evolution of Architectural Style by Vladimir Belogolovsky
DOM Publishers, 2016
Paperback, 160 pages

Last year I reviewed Vladimir Belogolovsky's collection of interviews, Conversations with Architects, which he started having following the 2002 World Trade Center Competition. This offshoot of that book features three conversations with Peter Eisenman held in 2003, 2009 and February of this year; the first two are unedited transcripts of interviews from last year's book and one that is completely new. Given this fact, I gravitated to the last interview.

The most recent conversation continues with many of the ideas explored in the first two, such as the role of language, the influence of Jacques Derrida, and the City of Culture in Galicia, what should be Eisenman's magnum opus. Although Eisenman admits to not caring about his legacy, he pinpoints a late phase of his career that is marked by projects that focus on facades, unlike the manipulation of the site as in the Galicia project. Unfortunately Belogolovsky does not prod into these projects, instead keeping the focus on Galicia and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, as well as the theoretical considerations Eisenman is known for.

So to decipher the late phase of Eisenman's career, the reader is left to delve into the dozen projects documented with photographs, drawings and models that make up the bulk of the book. These range from the built and unbuilt houses of the 1970s to two in-progress projects in Milan and Istanbul, the projects that fit into this late phase. Missed opportunity aside, the book is a solid collection of words and images that fans of Peter Eisenman will appreciate. It's also a good start for a potential series of conversations on particular architects coming out of Belogolovsky's ongoing interviews.

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