VISITING POSITION REPORT (1996-1997)
THIS REPORT RESUMES THE ACTIVITIES DONE BY MIGUEL JAIME D. ARCH. DURING HIS APPOINTMENT AS
VISITING ASSOCIATE IN ARCHITECTURE AT THE DEPARTMENT OF ARCHITECTURE, GRADUATE SCHOOL OF
DESIGN, HARVARD UNIVERSITY, ACADEMIC YEAR 1996–1997. ADVISORS : MICHAEL HAYS Ph. D. (AISP,
GSD) AND JOSEP MUNTAÑOLA DR. ARCH. (D.P., ETSAB). POSTDOCTORAL PROJECT SPONSORED BY THE
COMISIONAT PER UNIVERSITATS I RECERCA - DIRECCIO GENERAL DE RECERCA OF THE PRESIDENCIA DE LA
GENERALITAT DE CATALUNYA
The aim of spending one academic year at the G.S.D. was to expand the scope of my research
and teaching experience at the E.T.S. de Arquitectura de Barcelona during the last nine years.
Immediately after the defense of my doctoral thesis I was concerned about implementing its
conclusions on the academic and professional realm: How to use that specialized knowledge in
teaching undergraduate design students and in designing itself were the main questions. I have
come to the conclusion, after this postdoctoral experience at Harvard, that the answer is one
and the same for both realms: to focus design education and professional practice on pointing
out that specific visual nature of architecture that has more to do with a way of acting than
with any phenomenological interpretation.
This report lists and briefly comments the bibliography, courses, symposiums, lectures, and
exhibitions I consulted and attended during this academic year. It resumes also the essay
Investigating Visual Resistance in Architecture that synthesizes the influence of this American
experience in my investigative work. The possibility of giving a lecture on the urbanism of
Barcelona was an unexpected honor thanks to the kind request of Professor Julia Trilling. The
generous invitation of Juan Navarro Baldeweeg allowed me to participate as critic in the reviews
of his studio, and our conversations were a powerful encouragement to my work. Luis Carranza
(Ph.D. candidate, Harvard University) has become a friend besides helping me through all this
year. I am grateful to Jorge Silvetti for his advises and for inviting me to the 1996 Chairman’s
Symposium. I have to thank Michael Hays for his patience and for letting me do a truly
“Independent Study” of my visiting position, and Josep Muntañola for tutoring this experience
from Spain. The endorsement I recieved from Ma. Antonia Labrada, Tomás Llorens, and in
particular from Rafael Moneo, has been supporting and challenging at the same time. This whole
postdoctoral project has been sponsored by a grant from the Comissionat per Universitats I
Recerca, Direcció General de Recerca of the Presidencia de la Generalitat de Catalunya.
Introduction to Architectural Theory (G.S.D. 3202), Professor: K. Michael Hays, Harvard
University. Fall 1996. This course examines the theoretical production of the last three decades
in the realm of architecture with the intention of explaining the present situation. Architecture
is defined in this introductory course by “its relations to spheres of cultural productions as art,
science, technology, and politics.” From this approach, theory and practice in architecture are
seen as ideological issues, not because of their aesthetic or artistic nature, but because of their
political and cultural content. As the critical power of architecture is thus evaluated by its
direct impact upon society, its theorization develops into self-consciousness of late capitalist
society rather than feeding back the still poor epistemological apparatus of the discipline. The
deep critical trait of this course turns apparent when it brilliantly articulates the theoretical
discourse of the end of the century to demonstrate that autonomous creation is not possible in
architectural practice under current social conditions. Lectures: Theory as the practice of
mediation/ Commodity society and mental life/ The utopian vocation of reification/
Thecnological reproduction and the demise of aura/ The culture industry and the autonomous
art/ The radicalization of the ideology critique: Tafuri´s closure/ The interaction of structure
and event: Collage City and the Tendenza/ Architecture degree zero: Eisenman, for example/
From the street to the boudoir: neo-avant-garde and the space of capital/ Ideology and its
materialization/ Realism and criticism from within/ Work versus labor: Frampton´s unfinished
project/ Minor architecture: Hejduk, for example/ Spacing and the diagrammatics of program:
Tschumi and Koolhaas, for example/ From collage to assemblage: The smoothing of theory.
The 1996 Faculty Symposium. Since the beginning of his chairmanship at the G.S.D., Jorge
Silvetti has annually organized what has been called the Chairman’s Symposium. This
symposium in the Greek manner (“…held in private, with no recordings and no audiences”)
gathers together “prominent pedagogues of different generations, faculty and special guests”
in order to discuss architectural education. As a guest I had the opportunity to learn firsthand
the state of the art of the architectural education in the United States today. Celebrated on the
15th of November 1996 this symposium focused on the possibility of establishing a new
foundation of principles for the architect´s education. Participants: George Baird, Henry Cobb,
Scott Cohen, Michael Hays, Carlos Jimenez, Alex Krieger, Ralph Lerner, Toshiko Mori, Jorge
Silvetti, Peter Wladman, Val Warke.
Testing Ground, Contesting Space. Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Symposium,
sponsored by Harvard University and M.I.T. A two days symposium in which doctorate students
presents papers related with the dissertations they are working on. Papers presented: White
Out: Nationalism and American Architecture. Mayha Yahya, M.I.T. Department of Architecture
History; Empire of the Miniature and the Gigantic: Two Projects by Lutyens at the British Empire
Exhibition of 1924, Tim Rohan, Harvard University Department of Fine Arts; " Yo Chikti Yo Sea
Huya Aniwapo": Ritual Spaces of Identity Maintenance for the Yoeme (Yagui) Indians, David
Allen Shorter, UC Santa Cruz, History of Consciousness; Common Ground: Describing Ottoman
Conventions of Architectural Representation, Graham Larkin, Harvard University Department of
Fine Arts; Suburban Prospects: Vision and Possession in Ford Madox Brown´s "English Autumn
Afternoon", Alastar Wright, Columbia University Department of Art and Archaeology; Mise-en-
scene of the closet: Space and Gay Identity in Postwar Cinema, Chris Cagle, Brown University
English Department; “Fascist Authentic”: Building a Model Peasant Society in Italian Colonial
Libya, Krystyna von Henneberg. Standford University Department of History; Cultural Politics of
the Aerial Gaze: Le Corbusier´s Urban Schemes for South America and Algeria 1929-31, Adnan
Morshed, M.I.T. Department of Architecture History, Theory and Criticism; The Violence of
Abstraction: Spacial Modes of Regulation in the Twenty Century Egypt, Omnia El Sharry,
Princeton University Department of History; Wartime Advertising and Planning Culture, Andy
Shanken, Princeton University Department of Art and Archeology; The Architecture of
Bureaucracy, Jeffrey Inaba, Harvard University Committee on Architecture, Landscape
Architecture and Urban Planning; Diagnosing Sick Building Syndrome, Jonathan Massey,
Princeton University School of Architecture; Buildings Without Organs: A History of Indoor
Environments and Pathology in Late Capitalism, Michelle Murphy, Harvard University History of
Science; Inside/Outside: Beckett´s Identifiable Settings, Gina Fried-Miller, Brandeis University
Joint Program of Literary Studies; Productions of Incarceration, Felicity Scott, Princeton
University School of Architecture, The Practice of Public Dissection: Defining a Hybrid Space
Through Seventeenth Century Representational Strategies, Patricia Kelly, University of British
Columbia Department of Fine Arts. Moderators: Luis Carranza, Lauren Kogod, Brian McLaren,
Regan McDonald, Nana Last.
The Education of the Architect. A festschrift honoring Stanford Anderson. M.I.T., Saturday
May 3rd 1997. This symposium of former and current architectural theory students of the
M.I.T. program focused on the growth of the architectural knowledge in the second half of this
century. Current investigations were presented together with the balance of years of
experience in teaching positions of former students. Papers presented by young scholars:
Modernism and Modernity: Introduction Mark Jarzombek. Participants: Maha Yahya, Mitchell
Owen, Adnan Morshed, Jeffrey Leiter. Round Table: Teaching History, Theory and Criticism in a
School of Architecture. Chair: Stanford Anderson, Participants: Hilary Ballon, Micha Bandini,
Diane Ghirardo, Akos Moravansky, Mitchell Schwarzer.
The First 15 Years of the G.S.D.: The Hudnut/Gropius Era April 25th-26th 1997.
Conference of Alumni/ae and professors of the classes of 1937-54. Subjects: The G.S.D. of
Hudnut y Gropius, 1937-1952. Primary participants Henry Cobb, Jhon Harkness, Cornelia
Oberlander, G. Holmes Perkins, and Harry Seidler. Instruments of Social Conscience Hudnut y
Gropius. Primary participants: Edward Larrabee Barnes, James Marston Fitch, Peter Oberlander,
Richard Snibbe, and Blanche Lemco van Ginkel. The Hudnut/Gropius Influence: Pedagogy and
Practice at Harvard and After. Primary participants: Robert Geddes, Sam Hurst, Joseph R.
Passonneau, G. Holmes Perkins, Anne Tyng. Moderator Michael Hays. Interlocutors: Anthony
Alofsin, Sara Ksiazek, Joan Ockman and Peter Rowe.
Composite Conditions: Buildings as Hybrid. Andrea Leers, Architect, Leers Weinzapfel
Associates, Boston. 16/10/96
Brigitte Shim Visiting Design Critic, Department of Architecture, Department of Architecture
Lecture Series. 22/10/96
Barbara Bloom, Plastic Artist, Rouse Visiting Artist Lecture Series. 24/10/96
Lorna Sympson, Plastic Artist, Rouse Visiting Artist Lecture Series.
Michael Speaks. Writer, Researcher, and Critic of Architecture, Lebanon, New Hampshire.
Department of Architecture Lecture Series. 12/11/96
Stephen Cassell, Tom Jenkinson, and Adam Yarinsky: Architectural Research
Office (ARO) New York. Adam Yarinsky, Visitor at the Department of Architecture,
Department of Architecture Lecture Series.
The Leaning of the Tower of Pisa: History and safeguard Measures, 1173 to 1996.
Salvattore Settis, Director of the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, Los
An Atlas of the Flesh: Journeys in Film and Architecture. Giuliana Bruno, Gordon W.
Gahan Associate Professor of Visual Art and Environmental Studies, Harvard University.
Department of Architecture Lecture Series, 11/2/97
Twentieth-Century Architecture, Technology and Utopia. Antoine Picon. Department
of Architecture Lecture Series. 2/3/97
An Arrangement of Pictures. Louise Lawler, Artist, New York City. Rouse Visiting Artist
Lecture Series. 4/3/97
Rethinking the Modern: A Museum for the Next Century. Terence Riley, MoMA
Architecture curator. 18/3/97
Complementary Geometry. Juan Navarro Baldeweg, Spring 1997 Kenzo Tange Visiting Critic
in Architecture, Madrid Spain. Department of Architecture Lecture Series, 19/3/96
Arquitectura de España. El principio del fin del siglo XX. Xavier Güell Guix,
Barcelona. Department of Architecture Lecture Series, 1/4/97
Connections. The Relationship Between Art and Architecture. Rafael Moneo, Wellesley
College, May 1997.
Dennis Adams. Artist, Boston and New York, Associated Professor, Visual Arts
Program, M.I.T. Rouse Visiting Artist Lecture Series, 10/4/97
Barcelona’92: The Birth of the Catalan Metropolis. Lecture given by Miguel Jaime in the
Urban Planning Master´s course The European City (G.S.D. 5310), Harvard University, May
1997. Instructor: Professor Julia Trilling
To explain the urban impact of the Olympic Games of Barcelona in the institution that awarded
the city with the Prince of Wales Prize in Urban Design 1990 has been a challenge and a
satisfaction at the same time. The main hypothesis is that the games served, within the whole
project Barcelona ´92, to create the infrastructure that made true the metropolitan dream of
Barcelona. Thus, in this particular case the Summer Games produced a lasting benefit for the
city, a goal always wished but scarcely achieved by these kind of events.
Envisioning Design: Selections from the Special Collections of the Frances Loeb
Library, Gund Hall Gallery, 1/11/96
Leers Weinzapfel Associates: Composite Conditions. Youth Development Center,
Boston. Gund Hall Gallery, 14/11/96
This is the modern World: Furnishings of the 20th Century. Museum of Fine Arts,
ARO: Recent Work. Recent work de Stephen Cassell, Tom Jenkinson, and Adam
Yarinsky: Architectural Research Office (ARO) New York, Gund Hall Gallery, 15/11/96
Recent Work of Enrique Norten. Norten is Eliot Noyes Visiting Design Critic and partner at
TEN Arquitectos, Ciudad de Méjico. Gun Hall Gallery, 10/1/97
Kimo Griggs: Prototypes. Gund Hall Gallery 10/1/96
Student Work From Fall 1996, Gund Hall Gallery, 15-30/1/96
CAD/CAM '97: Emerging Technology in Architecture. Gund Hall Gallery 23/2/97
Complementary Geometry. Recent work of Juan Navarro Baldeweg. Kenzo Tange
Visiting Critic in Architecture, Gund Hall Gallery 3/3-3/4/97
Ex|plate chess house in progress. Richard Rosa, Visiting Design Critic in Architecture.
The Art of John Biggers: View from the Upper Room. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Roy Liechtenstein: Landscapes in the Chinese Style. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,
Projecting Beirut: Episodes in the Construction and Reconstruction of the Modern
City. Gund Hall Gallery, 7-14/4/97
Leonardo da Vinci: Scientific, Inventor and Artist. Science Museum, Boston, June 97.
Traveling Exhibition organized by the Cultural Institute of Tübingen (Germany) and Malmö City
Boticelli's Witness. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA April 1997
Wertheim Collection. Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge MA, Mayo 97
1997 Biennale of American Art, Whitney Museum NY, NY. June 97
19th Century European, Early Modern, and Contemporary Art at the Yale University
Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut
Towards the New Museum of Modern Art: Sketchbooks by Ten Architects. MoMA,
NY, NY. June 97. Architectural proposals for the expansion and renovation of the MoMA by the
architects Wiel Arets (The Netherlands); Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron (Switzerland);
Steven Hol (USA); Toyo Ito (Japan); Rem Koolhaas (The Netherlands); Dominique Perrault
(France); Yoshio Taniguchi (Japan); Bernard Tschumi (USA); Rafael Viñoly (USA) y Tod
Williams/Billie Tsien (USA)
Graduate Center (1950) Harkness Commons, Cambridge, MA, Architect: Walter Gropius
Gropius House, 1937. 68 Baker Bridge Road, Lincoln, MA. Architect: Walter Gropius.
Zimmerman House, Manchester, NH. Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright,
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut. Architect: Louis Khan
The Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut. Architect: Louis Khan
Philip Exeter College Library, New Hampshire. Architect: Louis Khan
Seagram Building, New York, NY. Architect: Mies Van der Rohe
Ford Foundation, New York, NY. Architect: Kevin Roche y John Dinkeloo
Carpenter Center, Cambridge, MA. Architect: Le Corbusier
Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY. Architect: Frank LLoyd Wright
Whitney Museum, New York, NY. Architect: Marcel Brewer
Josep Lluis Sert House, Cambridge, MA. Architect: Jose Lluis Sert
John F. Kennedy Library, Boston, MA. Architect: I. M. Pei
STUDIO WORKS REVIEWS
Observer in the Fall semester´96 Studio Reviews of the at the G.S.D., Harvard
Invited Critic in the Intermediate Review of the Advanced Studio at the Boston
Architectural Center. Spring 1997. Instructors: Luis Carranza y Denise Dea. Title: A
Department Store. Critics: Luis Carranza, Denise Dea, Eugenia Lopez Reus, Bill Boehm, Miguel
Jaime and Heinrich Herman.
Invited Critic in the Intermediate and Final Review of the Studio A Museum in
Torcello, G.S.D. Harvard University. Spring 1997. Instructor: Juan Navarro Baldeweg,
Kenzo Tange Visiting Critic 1997, G.S.D. Harvard University. Intermediate Review Critics: Mack
Scogin, Sheila Kennedy, George Baird, Luis Rojo, Scott Cohen, Miguel Jaime, Juan Navarro
Baldeweg. Final Review Critics: Jorge Silvetti, Mario Gandelsonas, Luis Rojo, Scott Cohen, Miguel
Jaime, Sheila Kennedy, Juan Navarro Baldeweg, and Alan Colquhoun.
ESSAY: INVESTIGATING VISUAL RESISTANCE IN ARCHITECTURE.
Intransitive appearance as a vestige of architectural
modernity. Miguel Jaime, Cambridge, Mass., 1997, 20 pp.
The original idea of this essay was to explain to a group of faculty and doctorate students of
the G.S.D. the content of my doctoral thesis Its Own Reason. A Critique of the Rationality of
Modern Architecture. Nevertheless, the effort to make its content suitable for such an event –
in public, in English, and in America– made me discover aspects of the investigation not
exploited until now. Far from a simple translation of the content of my thesis, this essay should
be taken as a testimony of its evolution thanks to this experience at Harvard.
Visual Resistance in Architecture points out the unaware validity of the intransitiveness
inaugurated by the seminal works of modern architecture at the begining of this century. This
validity is behind every advanced trend in architecture that claims some sort of “resistance”
against any threat to architectural specificity today. Visual resistance is the translation of
notions like Visuality (Konrad Fiedler) or Opacity (Philipe Junod) into the terms in which
current architectural debate in American understands the problem of such specificity. While the
resistance against being reduced to commodity tends to convert the works of art in simple
bearers of the “appropriate” ideological meanings, the artistic intransitiveness involved in the
resistance of visuality is a critique-in-itself as it introduces in our world portions of reality truly
autonomous and yet not indifferent to it. Cultural resistance is a defiance against market
immoderation; visual resistance strives against any form of dogmatism as, besides fighting
back, it offers an example of a truthful reality that is not totally explainable anyhow.
This essay examines the misunderstanding of historiography about the visual gnoseologism (as I
have named it) of the seminal works of modern architecture and the works of the formal avant-
garde that preceded them. Simultaneously, it points out the silence on the role of convention in
creation within the original theory of visuality. The absence of a modern theory of creation that
successfully relates form and history is the cause of the crisis that has characterized the
evolution of art and architecture during this century. Towards a possible solution of this
problem leads the final proposition of this essay of incorporating the study of history as an
active part of the studio work in our schools of architecture.
This list includes a few readings done in the summer of 1996 when preparing to move to
Cambridge, as well as the books I checked out from Harvard University Library during this year.
The criteria of selection has been varied: the recommendations of my advisors, published work
that could be interesting for the purpose of the investigation and some complementary
bibliography related to my doctoral thesis. To structure a lecture on the urbanism of Barcelona
out of the bibliographic sources of the Frances Loeb Library was a reflective event in the two
meanings of the expression: to see how we were seen and to think about it.
Baird George, The space of appereance, Cambridge, Mass., M.I.T. Press, 1995
Baljon Cornelis J., The structure of architectural theory. A study of some writings by Gottfried
Semper, Jhon Ruskin, and Cristopher Alexander. [Leiden, C.J. Baljon, 1993?]
Bizios Georgia, (ed.) Architectural Theory and Criticism, Urban Design, Architectural History.
Architecture Reading lists and courses outlines, Raleigh, Department of Architecture, School of
Design, North Carolina State University, 1991
Bunch Clarence, Art education: a guide to information sources, Detroit, Gale Research Co.,
Chen Hui-Min A critique of scientific rationality in the production of Architecture, Georgia
Institute of Technology, 1993. Doctoral thesis (Ph. D.)
Dutton Thomas A. (Editor), Voices in Architectural Education: Cultural Politics and Pedagogy,
N.Y., Bergin & Garvey, 1995
Duve Thierry de, Kant after Duchamp, Cambridge, Mass., M.I.T. Press, 1996
Edward Theodore, The Notion of form in Kant's Critique of Aesthetic Judgement, The Hague,
Epron, Jean-Pierre, L'Architecture et la regle. Essai d'une theorie des doctrines architecturales,
Bruxelles, P. Mardaga, [1981?]
Gain Therese Mary, Theory and Practice in architectural education: The Harvard Curriculum,
1934-1956, Ithaca, N.Y., Cornell University, 1977
Gropius Walter, "Essentials for Architectural Education", PM (magazine), v. 4, no. 5, Feb.-Mar.
1938, p. 3-16
Hays Michael K., Modernism and the post-humanist subject, Cambridge Mass., M.I.T. Press,
Hays Michael K., Unprecedented Realism. The Architecture of Machado and Silvetti, New York,
Princeton Architectural Press, 1995.
Hays Michael K., On the German Pavilion of the Venice Biennale 1991. Heinrich Tessenow,
1976-1950, Madrid, Arquitectura, COAM Enero 1992, pp.42-46
Junod Philipe, Transparence et Opacité. Essai sur les fondements Theoriques de l'art moderne.
Pour une nouvelle lecture de Konrad Fiedler. Laussane, L'age d' Home, 1976
Mertins Detlef, The Presence of Mies, New York, Princeton Architectural Press, 1994
von Meiss Pierre, Elements of Architecture: from Form to Place, London, New York, N.Y., Van
Nostrand Reinhold, 1990
Moneo Rafael, The Solitude of Buildings. Kenzo Tange Lecture, March 9th 1985, Cambridge MA,
G.S.D. Harvard University, 1986
Nelson George, "The End of Architecture" in On design, London, The Architectural Press, 1979
Pearce Martin, and Toy Maggie eds., Educating Architects, London, Academy Editions, 1995.
Podro Michael, The parallel of linguistic and visual formulation in the writing of Konrad Fiedler,
Torino, Edizioni di "Filosofia", 1961
Podro Michael, The Manifold in Perception. Theories of art from Kant to Hildebrand, Glasgow,
Oxford University Press, 1972
Soulez Antonia, L'Architecte et le philosophe, Liege, France P. Mardaga, 1993
Silvetti Jorge, “On realism in Architecture”, The Harvard Architecture Review, G.S.D. Harvard
University, M.I.T. Press, Vol. I, Spring 1980, pp. 11-31
Teymor N., Architectural Education, London, Question Press, 1992
van Dijk Hans, Janson Liesbeth ed., Architecture and Legitimacy, Rotterdam, Nai Publishers,
van Pelt Robert Jan, Architectural Principles in the age of historicism, New Haven, Yale
University Press, 1991
UNIVERSITIES PROGRAMS, SYMPOSIUMS PUBLICATIONS, AND THESIS:
Denari Neil Martin, Plexus: the origins of the scientific theory in architecture, Master Thesis (M.
ARCH.), Harvard University, Departement of Architecture, 1982.
The Official Register, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, 1995-96
Doctor of Design and Doctor of Philosophy Programs, G.S.D., Harvard University
The Form of the Doctoral Thesis, A Supplement to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Handbook Cambridge, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, 1985,
Ph. D. Program in Architecture, School of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of
Wisconsin, Milwaukee (example of a doctoral program based on Enviroment-Behavior Studies
Graduate Programs in Architecture of Cornell University, Carnegie Mellon University, M.I.T.,
Georgia Tech. College of Architecture, The Pennsylvania State University.
Selection of 40 Abstracts of Ph. D. thesis from Eureka (out of 2.500 titles approximately)
“Symposium: On Architectural Research”. Part 1 & 2, Cambridge, The Harvard Architecture
Review, V9 1993
“History in architectural education Symposium”, History in, of, and for architecture, papers from
the symposium, Cincinnati Ohio, May 30 and 31 1980.
SOME BIBLIOGRAPHY ON BARCELONA IN HOLLIS:
Rowe Peter et. alt., Prince of Wales Prize in Urban Design, 1990, Cambridge MA, Harvard
University, Graduate School of Design, 1991
Barcelona Olimpica. La ciudad renovada, Barcelona, Holsa Ambit Servies, 1992
Barcelona en joc. Barcelona, where the games are no game, Barcelona, Co.legi Oficial
d´Aparelladors I Arquitectes Tecnics de Barcelona, [1988?]
Maragall Pascual, Barcelona la ciudad renovada, Barcelona, Edicions 62, 1991
Maragall Pascual, Refent Barcelona, Barcelona, Planeta, 1986
Busquets Joan, Barcelona. Evolución urbanística de una capital compacta, Madrid, Editorial
MBM/Puigdomenech, Transformation of a sea front. Barcelona, the Olympic Village, 1992,
Barcelona, G. Gili, 1988
Oriol Bohigas et. alt, Barcelone, ville et architecture: 1980–1992, Barcelona, G. Gili, 1991
The name Modern Architecture designates different things on each side of the Atlantic. Far
form the interpretations that talked about a des-ideologization of the original European model,
in America architectural modernity was understood mainly as a sociological proposal, except
that adapted here to the needs of the great capital. Modern Architecture meant in the United
States concentrating high density and administrative functions in downtown areas; it meant
spreading residential suburbs around the cities and connecting them through a system of
highways; it meant giving priority to the use of the automobile when planning the territory; it
meant the determination of the whole human environment to the dictates of industrialization; in
sum, Modern Architecture means in America today an exhausted model of spatial and vital
organization associated to late capitalism rather than a specific artistic proposal.
Architectural modernity in Europe has not lost entirely its artistic legitimacy. On the one hand,
restricted interventions, dissolved in an already consolidated urban fabric, were not able to
radically modify the relationship of the general public with the built environment. On the other
hand, the so-called seminal works of modern architecture did demonstrate that the form of the
buildings –as any other artistic object in modernity–could achieved a new sort of necessity
without resorting to classical or historical orders: this possibility permitted to overcome the
deep artistic crisis opened by eclecticism in the XIX century. The fact that the architecture that
spread through Europe after the war was a declared rectification of the original modern
foundations of the 1920’s has contributed to the feeling of a premature cancellation of
architectural modernity in the continent.
Thus, different attitudes towards modernity explain the fact that in Spain, for example, modern
architecture can still be conceived as an incomplete artistic project, while in the United States it
is something that has to be definitely overcome for the sake of society.
Modern urban “deserts”, like Detroit or Newark, fully justify American ill feeling towards
anything that bears the adjective of “modern”. However, even in America the seminal works of
modern architecture still determine the expectations of what a work of art should be, as the
Deconstructivist ´s recuperation of formal intransitiveness has recently demonstrated. As a
result of acting from within the same aesthetic condition that is morally rejected, speculation,
abstraction, and cynicism is irrupting in some American architecture in this end of the century.
On the one hand, researching in modern form’s principles can still be considered a promising
investigative project in Spain thanks to a more relaxed and moderated relationship with
architectural modernity. Yet, this relaxation is not free from risks as merging modernity and
moderation can threaten art critical power to the point of converting it into a simple
aesthetization of what already exists. In the United States, on the other hand, as architectural
modernity is so closely associated to plain reality, the architectural debate too frequently
averts towards strictly ideological grounds. Nevertheless, as what American society expects
from architecture is nothing less than the production of an alternative to current life,
architectural research and practice in the United States has become one of the most lively,
dynamic and culturally committed in the world today.
COURSES ATTENDED 3
SYMPOSIUMS ATTENDED 3
LECTURES ATTENDED 5
LECTURE: BARCELONA’92: THE BIRTH OF THE CATALAN METROPOLIS 6
VISITED EXHIBITIONS 6
ARCHITECTURAL VISITS 7
STUDIO WORK REVIEWS 7
ESSAY: VISUAL RESISTANCE IN ARCHITECTURE 8
PRELIMINARY CONCLUSION 12