The Multiple Failures Of Architecture Education

If urban areas are to improve, the public must become a more savvy consumer of good architecture.
January 9, 2003, 9am PST | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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"Not since the 1970s, in fact, has corporate America built stunning works of large-scale architecture such as Eero Saarinen's CBS Building, in New York City, or I.M. Pei's John Hancock Tower, in Boston. The last planning projects to gain widespread public recognition were the tony Seaside, Fla., and the Disney Company's white-bread new town, Celebration. Those projects, however, are both exemplars of the suburbanizing movement propagandistically misnamed the "New Urbanism."... The general public's lack of even the most basic education in architecture and urbanism makes for ill-informed, ill-prepared clients, be they developers such as Larry A. Silverstein (who holds a 99-year lease on the trade-center site), public servants such as the Port Authority, or advisers such as the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. With admittedly a few exceptions, asking members of those groups to judge inspired architecture is akin to asking people with a third-grade education to select the next winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature... We cannot ignore that postmodern theorists have profoundly influenced how many of our best-educated designers think about making architecture and urbanism, if in sometimes unexpected ways (although postmodernism's complexity and heterogeneity make it impossible to detail all those effects in one article). The impact that postmodern theory has had on design is, in some ways, providential. Creative designers approach their environment and their commissions with a sociocritical frame of mind."

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Published on Friday, January 10, 2003 in The Chronicle of Higher Education
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