Dezeen: "Academics Need to break out of their loop"
December 15 2015
According to Dezeen 's Reinier de Graaf, the Architecture Academia in the United States is dominated by conservative thinkers and has therefore become insular and out of touch.
Reinier illustrates his point by taking a recent debate at the Chicago Architecture Biennal as an example. Chaired by Jeffrey Kipnis — a theorist, designer, filmmaker, curator, educator, and founding director of the Architectural Association's Graduate Design Program and professor at the Knowlton School of Architecture — the debate focused on the caracteristics that define a highly contextual piece of architecture. Architects such as Patrik Schumacher, design director at Zaha Hadid Architects and Peter Eisenman, principal of Eisenman Architects and a pivotal figure in American Academia, participated to this debate, among other invited guests. The panel's aim is to establish a potential agenda for 21st-century architecture. "The composition of the panel seemed odd," comments Reinier de Graaf as "most of the panelists' formative lives have been lived in the 20th century, and all the panelists are from a part of the world to which – unless all current indicators are completely misgiven – the 21st century will not belong".
Among the main topics of discussion are the Guggenheim Helsinki museum competition, a competition that to this day has not produced an actual building; the loss of the individual genius in favor of architects as a virtual collective, and the unique approach of archi-starFrank Gehry, seen as the ultimate signature architect. "The often grandiose character of the debate stands in stark contrast to the marginal nature of that which is being debated," says Reinier de Graaf . "Any notion that architecture might be shaped by a larger political, societal or economic context does not seem to register," he continues. According to de Graaf, the western architectural ivory tower has become self-referencing and obsessed by minutiae unrelated to the built environment. In order to change this situation, Reinier de Graaf belives that "Academics need to break out of their closed information loop and get back into the real world".