Exhibitions at Yale School of Architecture Explore Ideas for the Future

Recent work of the innovative design firm MVRDV and the opposing views of prominent architectural theorists Peter Eisenman and Leon Krier are the subjects of exhibitions and symposia at the Yale School of Architecture this fall.

The season will open on September 4 with the exhibition “3D City,” a multi-media installation exemplifying the projects and mission of the Rotterdam-based design firm MVRDV. This first comprehensive exhibition of their work held in the U.S. will highlight the firm’s signature use of complex architectural information and data to invent new ways to visualize cities. Winy Maas, a principal of the firm, is a well-known proponent of density in urban planning, advocating concentration and verticality as a guiding principal of urban development.

The projects of MVRDV range from buildings and urban plans to publications and installations. The Dutch Pavilion for the World Exhibition 2000 in Hanover, Germany; an apartment complex, WOZOCO in Amsterdam; and the futuristic installation “Metacity/Datatown” are among their projects. “Metacity,” a projection of moving images of diagrammatic “cities” synthesized from demographic and urban data information, forms the core of the exhibition “3-D City.” The creators of the exhibition challenge the two-dimensional idea of the city, which still dominates urban design, and they hope to inspire creative alternatives to conventions, which, they say, are inadequate to address the realities of modern life.

“Winy Maas and the other designers at MVRDV are among the most provocative young architects on the scene today,” says Yale School of Architecture Dean Robert A.M. Stern. “Their point of view is not limited to one aesthetic, but is open to the best ideas they can find to address problems of urban development and redevelopment.”

“The work and ideas in this exhibition,” Stern adds, “coming as it does one year after the disaster of September 11 and as the debate rages over the fate of the World Trade Center site, should provide an important benchmark for New York’s planners.”

The exhibition will run through October 25 and will continue a world tour after leaving Yale.

“Dense-cities: An American Oxymoron?” a symposium in conjunction with the exhibition, will take place at the Yale School of Architecture September 20-21. As part of the symposium, Maas will face influential architecture, environmental and urban planning professionals-including Terence Riley, James Corner and Phil Aarons-in a debate on fundamental issues of urban planning and design. To open the symposium, Maas will present his firm’s studies of Vienna. Following the presentations of other speakers, he will engage them in a talk-show-format discussion about density in America.

The simultaneous exhibitions at the School of Architecture from November 4 to February 7,”Krier/Eisenman: Two Ideologies,” pay homage to two great theorists who personify the opposing sides of a great debate in post-war architecture.

“In the repudiation of international modernism that followed the social unrest of the 1960’s, two schools of architectural thought emerged,” Stern explains. The one, represented by Krier, advocates a return to traditional forms and classical methodologies and an emphasis on interconnectedness and context in urban planning. The other, espoused by Eisenman, seeks to “completely throw aside all sense of architecture as a social enterprise and concentrate on architectural forms,” Stern says.

For urbanist Krier, structures are linked to their physical, social and cultural environment. Krier argues that the town as an organic whole, rather than individual constructions within it, should be treated as the basic unit of urban planning.

In the early 1980’s, Krier led the planning effort for the community of Seaside, Florida, which exemplifies his ideal of a small town with generous public space. More recently, Krier was commissioned by Prince Charles to design four villages in conformity to the principles of ecological, social and historical harmony they both share. The completed town of Poundbury in Dorset, England, is meant to demonstrate, among other things, that mixed use housing is more likely to foster the well-being of the community than the common zoning practice of clustering buildings according to their function.

“Atlantis,” after the mythic utopian island, is the name Krier gave to an “ideal town” he planned for Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands. Part artist colony, part retreat for the world’s intelligentsia, “Atlantis” was commissioned by Helga and Hans-Jurgen Müller as a place where intellectuals and visionaries might meet to reestablish “the humanistic values that transform individuals into citizens.” The town, which slopes from the church at its pinnacle to the ocean, was inspired by the American Academy in Rome. The exhibition will explore the Atlantis project in architectural plans, drawings and models of the site. The exhibition was shown in 1988 at the Galerie der Stadt Stuttgart; La Fondation pour l’Architecture, Brussels; Deutsches Architekturmuseum, Frankfurt-am-Main; and the Architektur Forum, Zurich.

Contrasted with the European humanist Krier, the American Eisenman has been described as a “post-humanist” theorist with a “post-functional,” deconstructionist approach to architecture. While for Krier, the town is the ideal medium in which to demonstrate his ideas, Eisenman has used the individual house to articulate his theories. From the late 1960’s to 1980, he designed 10 houses - of which four were built - to try to distill pure architectural form from the most familiar genre of building. Krier titled his projects with numbers, in the order in which he created them, to underline that they were to be viewed as abstract intellectual exercises. This exhibition is devoted to House IV, a project that Eisenman completed between September 1970 and May 1971. The work is considered to express most clearly the theories of Conceptual Architecture that he had formulated in writing.

The multimedia installation that makes up this exhibition consists of a full size conceptual model of House IV with original drawings by Eisenman, photographs and a film created for the 1973 Triennale of Milan. This show is being produced in collaboration with the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Louis Martin is the curator and Peter Fianu of Atelier Braq in Montreal is the designer of the house module. The exhibition will travel to schools of architecture in North America.

On November 8 and 9, the School of Architecture will host a symposium at which Krier and Eisenman will meet in a public forum for the first time since 1977, when they debated at Princeton University. The reunion of the two highly influential architectural theorists follows their encounter at Yale last year, when Krier was invited by Eisenman to critique the final review of a studio he was teaching. Although scheduled to teach a studio at Yale in the spring of 2003, Krier expressly arranged to come to Yale this fall, when Eisenman will again be teaching.

The well-known literary critic Roger Kimball will give the keynote address at the opening of the symposium. On Saturday, leading architects and critics from Europe and North America will present papers in panels related to the four major areas of interest, and contention, between Krier and Eisenman: history, urbanism, politics and language. Stan Allen, Kurt Foster, Demitri Porpyrios and Mark Wigley will be among the presenters. Following the panel discussions, Eisenman and Krier will meet face to face to discuss the ideas they share and debate their differences. Vincent Scully, the Sterling Professor Emeritus of the history of art at Yale, will provide the final commentary.

Exhibitions will be held at the gallery of the Architecture Building, 180 York Street.

Hours for the gallery are Monday - Saturday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Symposia are free and open to the public but pre-registration is required. For more information, contact the Yale School of Architecture, 203-432-2288, or visit their web site at www.architecture.yale.edu

The announcement of the lectures to be delivered at the School this fall will be made in a separate release.

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Media Contact

Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345