Book of the Moment: A Forward-Minded Retrospective

On Thursday evening I attended a book launch for Cedric Price Works 1952-2003: A Forward-Minded Retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. The event, which took place in MoMA's library, celebrated the release of the huge, two-volume, 1,400-page monograph written and edited by Samantha Hardingham and published by AA Publications and the CCA.

Actually calling the book a monograph is far from ideal, since the British architect built very little and the book collects a hefty amount of Price's writings alongside his increasingly influential projects; the descriptors "manifesto" or "biography" might be more accurate. Whatever the case, even though the book is large, it seemed that those speaking on Thursday were in agreement that it would be but the first of a number of overdue publications on Price. In this case, size may equate with importance, but it is does not equal definitiveness.

One copy of the book was on display in the library; with only a few minutes to peruse over one thousand pages, only the most rudimentary of impressions could be obtained. Paired with the postcards available for people attending the launch (my take-home postcard is below), one thing that came across strongly was Price's humanity  – be it in a portrait of the architect in, of all things (considering how little he built), a hardhat, or notes on his office door, one of them reading, "He is not guilty – merely ahead of his time" – something sorely missing in architectural monographs.

With projects that placed a higher emphasis on systems, experience, ephemerality, and other less-tangible characteristics of architecture over form-making, Price was indeed ahead of his time. The book appears ready to provide a good dose of inspiration for today's young architects who are looking to make some positive change via architecture – in its various guises, not just buildings.