Note that the architects Schwarting targets as the objects of this whitewash Eisenman, Hejduk, Meier, Venturi, Stern and Johnson are roughly the same as the architects I am singling out in this dissertation.
As the major players on the architectural cutting-edge since the 1970s, the kids have at times been grouped together, although this has rarely been done by virtue of their connection with Johnson. When critics or historians have tried to create some kind of group out of these individuals (for example to deflate the battle between the Whites and the Grays), they have generally been grouped together as formalists,73 but what formalism might mean in this context has not been drawn out.
73. See for example Rosemarie Bletter, "Review of Five Architects Eisenman, Graves, Gwathmey, Hejduk, Meier and 'Five on Five'," Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (May 1979): 205-207.
After exploring the historical genealogy behind the innocent eye in the writings of John Ruskin, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, its development in nineteenth century child-art education, and its arrival in architectural pedagogy and thinking, I will examine the writings of four cardboard architects, John Hejduk, Peter Eisenman, and Michael Graves, and Richard Meier, in order to shed light on its particular repercussions in architecture.
An alternative to political romance is to be an architect, for those who actually have the necessary talent for architecture. ...
86. Arthur Drexler, preface to Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, Charles Gwathmey, John Hejduk, Richard Meier, Colin Rowe and Kenneth Frampton, Five Architects, (New York: Wittenborn & Company, 1972), 1.
At nearly the same time that Gropius's system reached its apex, in the early 1950s, a different reading of visual grammar began that was to have a tremendous and impact on architectural pedagogy, remaining a foundational element even today. In 1953 a group of educators retrospectively known as the "Texas Rangers," formed around Harwell Hamilton Harris, Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas in Austin, consisting primarily of Colin Rowe, Bernard Hoesli, John Hejduk, Robert Slutzky, Lee Hodgden, John Shaw, and Werner Seligmann (who arrived a couple of years later). While in retrospect their program seemed revolutionary, at the time it caused such controversy that within three years all of the Rangers had been dismissed or left their teaching positions at Texas.145
145. Alexander Caragonne. The Texas Rangers. Notes from the Architectural Underground. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1994) promises to fill in the gaps in this account.
The Rangers believed in architecture as idea, a revolutionary concept for the time. If architecture was idea, then it would have to be rigorous: if it was formal, it would have to have a logic of form.148 Thus, for example, John Hejduk, who would later go on to transmit the fundamental research of the Rangers at Cooper Union explained his need to develop a methodology based on a reduction to the basic elements of architecture, "columns, piers, walls, beams, edges, and so forth" as appearing "With the beginning of teaching. I had to get things in order. To order one's teaching, on a rational basis.
I developed it from a methodological condition. Method. Method. Do you know what I mean? Basic architectonic construction method: am I making myself clear?"149 In other words, there was a calculated attempt by Hejduk and at least some of the other Texas Rangers to come up with a new method of architecture that would have a rational basis. Building with the basic elements of architecture, the "columns, piers, walls, beams, edges, and so forth," the new architecture would be put together in a visual language or visual logic of architecture.
149. John Hejduk, Mask of Medusa: Works 1947-1983, (New York: Rizzoli, 1985), 35.
This idea of a mental act of reconstruction that would explain the building as a gestalt even while the individual elements, presented in cinematic spatial sequence would only frustrate, would become a key component of most sophisticated thinking in cardboard architecture, notably that practiced by Eisenman and Graves and we will return to this in chapter five.168
168. See for example John Hejduk's essay "Out of Time and Into Space," Mask of Medusa. Works 1947-1983, ed. Kim Shkapich. (New York: Rizzoli, 1985; originally published in French as "Hors de Temps dans L'Espace" in L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui, September/November 1965; reprinted in English and Japanese in A+U, May 1975), 71-75.
Since the sixties, Rowe has continued his project of evacuating extra-formal ideas from architecture while teaching history as a quarry for design ideas without a genetic or Hegelian basis.170
170. For Rowe on his own ideas on education see Colin Rowe, "Architectural Education in the USA. Issues, ideas, and people. A Conference to explore current alternatives," Lotus International 27 (1980, originally a paper written for a conference held in 1971 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York): 43-46.
Hejduk has on occassion attacked the work of Rowe et. al. at Cornell: "After the Texas thing reached Cornell, it dried up. It became academic. They took Corb, analyzed him to death, and they squeezed all the juice out of him... The warm Texas breeze hit the chill of Ithaca and then rained itself out." quoted in Rowe and Slutzky, Transparence. R้elle et Virtuelle, 9. One wonders if the same could not be said of Hejduk, substituting perhaps Mondrian for Corb.
Hejduk and Slutzky, on the other hand, went to Cooper Union and established a particularly influential method of education.
Since Texas, Hejduk had attempted to refine architectural pedagogy, in his words, to "order one's teaching, on a rational basis," to create a rigorous methodology for architectural design based on construction of elements that he would list as "columns, piers, walls, beams, edges, and so forth." This method, Hejduk argued, would allow concentration at the level of detail.172 The research by Hejduk and Slutzky at Cooper Union was documented by an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in November 1971 and an accompanying catalog, Education of An Architect: A Point of View173 which served as the most complete record and also as the most coherent statement for dissemination of the architectural paradigm that began to come together at Texas, as directly applied to teaching.
172. John Hejduk, Mask of Medusa: Works 1947-1983, (New York: Rizzoli, 1985) 35.
173. John Hejduk, Education of An Architect: A Point of View, (New York: The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, 1971). For some discussion of the book, its impact and its relation to its successor, also of the same title, and the possibility (or impossibility) of reading a book produced by a school of architecture about itself see Val K. Warke, "Education of an Architect and Tadao Ando: The Yale Studio & Current Works," The Journal of Architectural Education 43.4 (Summer 1990): 45-50.
In the first project that the student would encounter, Hejduk gave the students a Nine- Square grid in order to force them to understand the elements of architecture, which he listed as "grid, frame, post, beam, panel, center, periphery, field, edge, line, plane, volume, extension, compression, shear, etc." together with generating an inquiry into the meaning of plane, elevation, section and details and a grasp of the relations between two-dimensional drawing, axonometric drawing, and model. From all this, Hejduk wrote, "an understanding of the elements is revealed--an idea of fabrication emerges."175
175. John Hejduk, Education of An Architect: A Point of View, ed. John Hejduk. (New York: The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, 1971) 7.
Thus in 1972 Kenneth Frampton would write "today we find architecture suspended between applied art and social science; as a field of concern, more alienated than any other from a satisfactory rapport with both society at large and the university in particular." In opposition to this unhappy circumstance, Frampton presented the "underground academy" of Cooper Union under John Hejduk, its task to focus only on the matter at hand: architecture.211
211. Kenneth Frampton, "Notes from the Underground," Artforum (1972), p 40. See also K. Michael Hays, Tracking Architectural Theory: Preston Thomas Lectures at Cornell University, 1990, unpublished lectures, and Peter Blake, No Place Like Utopia. Modern Architecture and the Company We Kept, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993), 290-297. Blake writes "after a brief joust with radicalism, the schools of architecture especially those at yuppie universities began to produce new generations of elitist architects who instinctively knew which side their bread was buttered on." 297
It is within this context that cardboard architecture took hold. Faced with the failure of its methods and threatened with its own dissolution, American architecture consolidated a paradigm- shift without destabilizing the discipline. Under the formal virtuosity of a new vanguard, among whom were architects such as Robert Venturi, Michael Graves, John Hejduk, and Richard Meier, architecture was offered a means of containment. By restricting their domain to formal research, the vanguard of architecture could represent precisely what would distinguish and legitimate architecture as a discipline: notions of genius, singularity and presence. Thus in his preface to Five Architects, a vastly influential book that we will return to at length in chapter three, the director of MoMA's department of architecture and design, Arthur Drexler, was able to posit that "An alternative to political romance is to be an architect, for those who actually have the necessary talent for architecture."219
219. Arthur Drexler, preface to Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, Charles Gwathmey, John Hejduk, Richard Meier, Colin Rowe and Kenneth Frampton, Five Architects, (New York: Wittenborn & Company, 1972), 1.
Not all of the architects in 40 Under 40 became well known, but it is remarkable that so many future architectural celebrities were present, even if they were not to be heard from in press again for years (one major exception would be John Hejduk, who Stern says he immediately regretted not including433): Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, Richard Meier, Charles Moore, Jaquelin Robertson, Werner Seligmann, Stern himself (included at Johnson's insistence), Stanley Tigerman and Robert Venturi. By then Meier and especially Moore and Venturi, were already well-known and their inclusion served to legitimate the other, less well-known architects. Many of these architects knew each other, working and teaching in the New York City area: Tigerman and Stern had been at Yale together, where Charles Moore was had recently become the head of the architecture department, Stern had worked as a designer in Meier's office from 1965-1966,434 Eisenman was Meier's cousin and had known him since high school and both had taught at Princeton with Michael Graves.435 Thus 40 Under 40 served to map a network of connections among young (principally New York city-based) architects.
433. Stern "The Old '40 Under 40'," 31
In 1967 two public exhibitions served to establish CASE's direction for the rest of its existence. The Museum of Modern Art show "The New City" publicly displayed an attempt to re- read the European avant-garde and to re-think the possibilities of an urbanistic interest in architecture.456 The other show, John Hejduk and Robert Slutzky's "Diamond Exhibition" was held at the Architectural League, perhaps a way for Stern to apologize for his omission of Hejduk from 40 Under 40.457
457. It is hard to tell whether this show was a product of Stern's tenure as program director which ended in 1966. At this point (1966-67) Stern was also working with Johnson on "Eye on New York," a television series on "urbanistic developments" in New York and on Mayor Lindsay's Task Force on Urban Design. See Stern in "Writings," 156.
Diamond and The Square
While the New City exhibition was intended as a rereading of the avant-garde, a more formal rereading was given by the Hejduk and Slutzky show "The Diamond and the Square." The exhibit, consisting of a series of paintings on the theme of the square by Slutzky and houses by Hejduk that originated from rotated squares and triangles, ending in diamond configuration intentionally reminiscent of Mondrian's paintings. Hejduk's work, while ostensibly architecture, did not appear constructable at all. Rather, it marked a rereading of the architectural avant-garde of the 1920s and 1930s in terms of form motivated by the visual logic advocated by Rowe and Slutzky in their earlier "Transparency" essay.463
Yet where Rowe and Slutzky organized their essay around shallow space motivated by its two-dimensional origins in painting, Hejduk turned it on end to achieve an even greater two- dimensionality, or cardboard-ness. As he explains in a text that accompanied the publication of the Diamond Houses in 1969.
...When a square form in plan is drawn in isometric, it appears to the eye as a three- dimensional projection. When more than one floor plan is projected in isometric, it builds up quite naturally and still appears as a three-dimensional representation. When the diamond is drawn in isometric and has a plan of more than one floor, a very special phenomenon occurs. The forms appear two-dimensional; the stories overlap each other in primary two-dimensional vision. The form tips forward in isometric towards the picture plane; they are three-dimensional yet a stronger reading of two-dimensionality predominates.464
The aftermath of the New City and Diamond and the Square exhibitions resulted in the final chapter of CASE, the emergence of a splinter group that as Frampton has explained was "committed to a re-reading of the European avant-garde in terms that were quite strongly formal."465 Thus in 1968,466 the splinter group held CASE Seven in MoMA, with Eisenman, Graves, and Meier in attendance together with a number of individuals who had not previously been involved with CASE: Hejduk and Slutzky, Charles Gwathmey (who had taught at Princeton with Graves467 and whose own re-reading of the European avant-garde in his house and studio on Long Island were beginning to attract attention in the architectural media), Arthur Drexler, James Stirling, and Joseph Rykwert.468 Arthur Drexler, as Director of MoMA's Architecture and Design department, played the role of the sponsor and indeed would be the patron of New York CASE and their successors the New York Five until Johnson took over that role in the mid- seventies. Kenneth Frampton, then visiting from England, gave an introductory critique and Eisenman, Graves, Gwathmey, Hejduk and Meier each presented a project. A lively debate followed.469
The projects presented at the session together with Frampton's critique were to become the book Five Architects, arguably the most influential single book in the discipline during the 1970. Five Architects served as a fantastic promotional device for its participants. Known interchangeably as the New York Five, the Five, or the Whites--for the white appearance their architecture took on in the predominantly black and white publication--Eisenman, Graves, Gwathmey, Hejduk, and Meier went on to become some of the major architectural celebrities of architecture in the United States during the 1970s and 1980s.
463. Frampton, "Five + Ten," 4-5.
464. Introduction to catalog the Diamond in Painting and Architecture, 1967 reprinted in John Hejduk, Mask of Medusa: Works 1947-1983, (New York: Rizzoli, 1985), 49.
465. On the impact of the exhibits on the emergence of the splinter group, see Eisenman, "Five + Ten," 6.
466. In an interview, Meier states that the CASE meeting was in the fall of 1971. This appears to be a mistake on his part. See Barbaralee Diamondstein, American Architecture Now, (New York: Rizzoli, 1980), 105.
467. Gwathmey, "Five + Ten," 8.
468. Peter Eisenman, "Five + Ten: A Symposium held at the School of Architecture, Spring 1981," Colonnade vol. 1, no 1 (Spring 1982), 10.
469. Eisenman, "Five + Ten," 6.