Book Review: Anything

Anything, edited by Cynthia C. Davidson
The MIT Press, 2001
Paperback, 288 pages

Anything marks the end of ten years of multi-disciplinary conferences and books on architecture and theory sponsored by Anyone Corporation, who recently resurfaced with Log. Spanning three days at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City in June 2000, I was fortunate enough to attend day two of the conference and symposium, featuring Jeffrey Kipnis, Steven Holl, Ben van Berkel, Jacques Herzog, Rafael Moneo, Elizabeth Diller, Zaha Hadid, and others. The book afforded me the opportunity to see what I missed the other two days, particularly the discussions that followed each half day's prepared lectures. Its these transcribed discussions that make the book worthwhile, more argumentative, opinionated, and off-the-cuff than the lectures.

At the conference, the highlight for me was Gary Hill and Paulina Wallenberg-Olsson's day-ending "Anything Intervention", a live and pre-recorded, mixed-media work made specifically for the conference, my sentiment shared by most of the panel members. Surprisingly the highlight of the book (without diminishing the accomplishments of the presenters) is the graphic design, carried out by 2x4, the popular New York-based firm also responsible for the 2d elements of Rem Koolhaas and OMA's student center at IIT. 2x4 creates both macro and micro designs that create cohesion while also setting apart each piece as a unique part of the whole. This happens by subtly changing page colors throughout the book like a catalog of paints (blue-orange-green-pink-brown-purple-gray) and by laying out text and images differently for each contributor, in subtle ways as well.