Modernity and Its Other
A Post-script to Contemporary Architecture
7 x 9.5, 208 pp.
47 b&w photos.
Pub Date: 03/01/1997
Studies in Architecture and Culture
Price:        $49.95 s


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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Modernity and Its Other

A Post-script to Contemporary Architecture

By Gevork Hartoonian

The modern/postmodern debate has been fueled by the appearance of a new world order. And, in the aftermath of sociopolitical events such as the May 1968 student uprising in France, the antiwar movement in the United States, and the collapse of the Berlin Wall, a new set of cultural thematics has emerged. Gevork Hartoonian explores how major postfunctionalist architecture has addressed themes in postmodern culture, and in so doing argues that it is an architecture that should be viewed as historical--the gestalt of social/cultural phenomena--and not merely the product of various stylistic choices. In presenting a critical position that favors the tectonic over the aesthetic in treating the development of postmodern architecture, Hartoonian undermines the dominant "isms" in architectural discourse.

Modernity and its Other provides cogent review and analysis of the historicity of post-functionalism; the project of the historical avant-garde to overturn tradition--even that of modernity itself; the historical technological shift of culture toward commodity; and the historical deconstruction of modernist logocentrism.

Hartoonian discusses post-functionalist architecture in the context of American postwar culture and its three tendencies: postmodernism, neo-rationalism, and deconstruction architecture. He reexamines the failure of the historical avant-garde and argues that the movement of technology from the technical into the cultural has opened new paths for discussion of postmodern architecture. Also included is a review of the thematics of the culture of building and an assessment of the relationship between architecture and the city.

Hartoonian's study of the modern language of architecture is offered in the context of Mies van der Rohe's body of work, as well as that of LeCorbusier and the Dom-ino concept. Also examined is the alternative to postmodernism as exhibited by the work of Tadao Ando, Louis Kahn, and Kenneth Frampton. Throughout, Hartoonian employees a wide range of philosophers and critics from various disciplines in offering this well illustrated account of architectural thought from the nineteenth century to the present.

GEVORK HARTOONIAN, architect and associate visiting professor at Parsons School of Design, received his Ph.D. in architecture from the University of Pennsylania in 1982. He is author of Ontology of Construction: On Nihilism of Technology in Theories of Modern Architecture.

What Readers Are Saying:

“. . . a fascinating effort to evaluate the current state of architecture. . . .” --Choice

“ . . . if you persist and read the whole thing, you essentially find an apology for the way in which American architecture developed from its country’s commodity-based culture, while flying various structuralist and Post-Modernist banners in acts of self-identification with its European cousins and (more to the point) the translatlantic critics.” --The Architectural Review (UK)

“This concise, highly condensed and well-illustrated book is surely a sign of the times. . . . no reader interested in the history of architecture, the modernization of the built environment or the history of modernity (as expressed in and through architecture) will be likely to leave this book without at least a number of new insights and plenty of dormant revisions of hitherto held beliefs. No mean achievement for a mere 140 pages of principal text, is it not?” --Ecumene, Vol. 5, #4


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