Robert Somol: See what I’m saying (January 27, 2016)



Robert Somol characterizes his topic as the realignment of words and things, or more precisely books and buildings from the 1960s through the mid-1990s. He argues that two modes of engagement with language: indexical (words to read) and speech acts (words to look at) generated two different streams of architectural discourse. One stemming from Colin Rowe, and includes Hedjuk, Rossi, and Eisenman. The other from Reyner Banham, and includes Cedric Price, Venturi, and Koolhaas. Somol proposes Herzog and De Meuron as a hybrid of the two streams, and continues the discussion of words as language and words as things, illustrating his points with projects by Herzog and De Meuron with Rémy Zaugg. Somol contrasts the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennale with the State of Art of Architecture symposium held in Chicago 38 years earlier. Where earlier the goal was debating positions, the current emphasis is on presenting results. Somol argues that one symptom is a disconnect between the discourse of architects and their forms.

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