An Architectural-Urban Strategy: Re-reading Rowe and Koetter’s Collage City

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review

428 Downloads (Pure)


This paper postulates that composition strategies propounded in Colin Rowe (1920-1999) and Fred Koetter’s (1938) Collage City illustrate a form of quotation at the scale of the urban precinct and composite building. The paper demonstrates that three kinds of quotation are at work: quotation as literal citation, as replication of form generation principles, and as evocation of architectural character chiefly by means of the park as city image. The paper suggests that a close analysis of Collage City will add to our understanding of the concept and device of quotation in terms of the aesthetics of urban scale composition. The paper also postulates that certain secondary readings have misread Collage City or at best not done it full justice in claiming the book advocates the common, the permanent, and the stable. The paper suggests that closer analysis of the text, the iconographic support, and student work undertaken under Rowe’s direction in the Cornell University graduate urban design studio demonstrate an aesthetic sensibility, a mind set, and a studio practice that is all about action, change, and movement. Collage City, student work completed under Rowe at Cornell, and contemporaneous writing comprise primary source material for the research. Key secondary literature – Baird, Biraghi, Cooper, Hurtt, Middleton, Ockman, Ortelli, Secchi, Tschumi – is referenced and for select works differences in point of view and finding briefly discussed. The paper makes a contribution of scholarship on
the ideas and influence of Rowe and Koetter’s thinking and Rowe’s teaching on architectural discourse revealing a generative potential largely ignored in secondary literature to date, adds to studies of twentieth-century architectural education, and addresses aspects of the 2017 SAHANZ conference theme of quotation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationQuotation: What does history have in store for architecture today?
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 34th Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand
EditorsGevork Hartoonian, John Ting
Place of PublicationCanberra
PublisherSociety of Architectural Historians Australia New Zealand
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780646981659
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'An Architectural-Urban Strategy: Re-reading Rowe and Koetter’s Collage City'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this