Plastic Temperaments: Notes on the Historical Project of Peter Eisenman following Bruno Zevi

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This paper examines the historical project of architect and educator Peter Eisenman (b. 1932) in the context of the architectural-historiographical work of Bruno Zevi (1918-2000). Two propositions underlie the investigation. The first proposition is that Eisenman’s changing styles of close reading into architecture’s past share traits with Zevi’s manner of heterodox historiography. The paper conjectures, secondly, that as a consequence of Eisenman’s specific manner of close reading, a distance or displacement is introduced between the object of study and its period which makes potentially operative the forms and devices of history for a contemporary practice. Following a summary review of Zevi’s approach to architectural history in The Modern Language of Architecture, and in order to test these propositions, the paper analyses three of Eisenman’s texts through the lens of their approach to history as close reading. The paper is aligned with the special issue of Esempi di Architettura, contributing to discussions around the legacy of Zevi’s call for architectural history as continuous revolution; makes a modest contribution to secondary scholarship on Eisenman with its focus on a little studied aspect of the latters work; and adds to contemporary debates around the historical project.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-107
Number of pages9
JournalEsempi di Architettura
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2018


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