Lateness and the Crisis of Modernity

Inspired by the great amount of resource that the AA provide on their lecture series, I felt compelled to provide a literary summary of some of the lectures that I watch. The first of which will be Peter Eisenman’s lecture on “Lateness and the Crisis of Modernity” whereby he introduces recent images of his most recent project in construction, the City of Culture of Galacia.

The presentation appears to revolve around three key ideas, that of genius loci, zeitgeist and capital. Eisenman introduces genius loci as the spirit of place while zeitgeist is the spirt of time, what is more important to architecture than such things? This additional notion of capital is broken into three distinct figures of the second half of 20th century who deal with issues of capital in different ways.  The first of whom is Mies Van der Rohe who in the context of this lecture was associated greatly with projects associated with clients such as Seagram and Armour and how Mies was able to deny such effects of capital upon his architecture.

The second figure to mention was Robert Venturi, who accommodates capital in the forms of decoration and decorum. Finally, Eisenman proposes Rem Koolhaas as the most recent example of fully confronting marketing and advertising in what can be recognized as surface architecture.

But what are these effects of capital having upon the earlier terms, genius loci and zeitgeist? There was once a time when one could associate certain forms of branding with a particular place. The welcomed examples within the lecture were of recognisable shirt and suit tailors who if you wanted to purchase their goods, you had to travel to their only outlet available in a particular part of town, giving a strong sense of place to be associated with the specialised branding and products. The effects of capital have distributed some of these brands far in the most unexpected of places such as airports and stations, which did not originally serve that clientele. One doesn’t have to look far to see the detrimental effect capital has on the spirit of place than these examples.

When architects are being faced with projects of scale in today’s climate it becomes more noticeable that these are in fact projects of Capital. We are finding ourselves as architects constantly under the influence of Capitalism and Marking, finding that some of us are being hired more and more for branding than architecture. The question to ask is how much do people need space? When surface and signage are being pushed to the forefront of demands.

Continuing on themes of zeitgeist, genius loci and capital; Peter Eisenman makes reference to the the “City of Culture of Galacia”…

I’ll update this soon once I’ve had a chance to review the lecture content.

URL for lecture video:



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