Peter Eisenman

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pages: 317 words: 107,653

A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams by Michael Pollan

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A Pattern Language, back-to-the-land, Benoit Mandelbrot, dematerialisation, Frank Gehry, interchangeable parts, Marshall McLuhan, Mercator projection, Peter Eisenman, place-making, Stewart Brand, telemarketer, The Great Good Place, urban renewal, zero-sum game

This was a decidedly idiosyncratic lens to deploy during the 1990s, when the book was written. For that was the decade when the architectural profession fell head over heels for literary theory, of all things, and was in the throes of a rebellion against the idea there was anything “natural” or necessary about a building, beyond the basic, boring necessity of keeping the rain off your client’s head. (Not that it always succeeded at that.) Architect/theorists like Robert Venturi and Peter Eisenman held the microphone, and they were arguing in all sincerity that a building was in fact no different than a poem, that the conventions of architecture—things like gabled roofs and right angles—were just as arbitrary and culture-bound as the sounds of words in a language. Like words or letters, the meaning of these things derived not from facts of nature or the human body’s experience of space but from the system of signs or the “language” of which they were a part.

Charlie cautioned that watching him design my building wasn’t necessarily going to give me a fair picture of contemporary architecture, if that’s what I was looking for. “Just as long as you realize that what I do doesn’t have too much to do with all that stuff.” I hadn’t realized that, actually. Charlie had studied under a number of eminent contemporary architects—Charles Moore, at UCLA, where he went to architecture school in the late seventies; and Peter Eisenman, at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Design in New York—and his father, a former head of the architecture department at MIT, was himself fairly well known for several arresting modernist buildings in and around Boston. So Charlie wasn’t exactly an architectural naïf. I heard nothing from Charlie for a couple of weeks, and had begun to wonder what was going on when two equally perplexing items arrived in the mail.

Most of the prize-winning buildings, or designs, struck me as willfully idiosyncratic and, at least before I read the lengthy captions, totally perplexing. Here was a trio of silver plywood structures on a beach, each resembling a different fish washed up on shore: a carp, a ray, and a sea slug. Called Beached Houses, they were intended as artists’ housing in Jamaica. A prospective Tokyo office building designed by Peter Eisenman looked like a conventional glass-walled tower that had somehow been folded over and over again until it resembled an origami construction—a dizzying collage of multiplying facets and peculiar angles. The California architect Frank Gehry had two winners, both of them actually destined to get built. Another California architect had designed a house and gallery for an art collector in Santa Fe that consisted of two groupings of cubes within cubes within cubes; it looked like the sort of building you might get if you asked M.


pages: 165 words: 45,397

Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming by Anthony Dunne, Fiona Raby

3D printing, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, Buckminster Fuller, Cass Sunstein, computer age, corporate governance, David Attenborough, en.wikipedia.org, Fall of the Berlin Wall, game design, global village, Google X / Alphabet X, haute couture, life extension, Mark Zuckerberg, mouse model, New Urbanism, Peter Eisenman, RAND corporation, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, social software, technoutopianism, Wall-E

House VI is unusual because it was intentionally an uncompromising piece of architectural art someone could live in, just about. It was as though the owner lived inside an idea rather than a building. Beyond this lies the world of film design and more recently game design, which deals less with conceptual objects and more with imaginary worlds. We will return to this subject later in chapter 5. Peter Eisenman, House VI, east facade, 1975. Photograph by Dick Frank. Photograph courtesy of Eisenman Architects. Peter Eisenman, House VI, 1975, axonometric drawings. Drawings courtesy of Eisenman Architects. COMMODIFIED IMAGINATIONS In the fields of applied arts, graphics, fashion, furniture, vehicle, and architecture, conceptual design is a highly valued, mature, and interesting way of working, and it embraces one-off experiments by individual designers through to products available in shops.

From paper architecture to visionary design, its long history is full of exciting and inspiring examples. There is a tension between visionary architecture, which has an outward facing social or critical agenda, and paper architecture, which, though often introspective and concerned only with architectural theory, is rarely intended to ever be built. One of the most interesting examples to cross over from idea to reality is Peter Eisenman's famous House VI (1975), which prioritized formalist concerns over practicalities to an extreme extent. The client later wrote about the many practical problems it had but still loved living in such a conceptual building." The relationship between reality and unreality is particularly interesting in architecture because many buildings are designed to be built but remain on paper due to economic or political reasons.

Will Bradley and Charles Esche, eds., Art and Social Change: A Critical Reader (London: Tate Publishing, 2007), 13. 16. For example, see Robert Klanten et al., eds., Furnish: Furniture and Interior Design for the 21 st Century (Berlin: Die Gestalten Verlag, 2007); and Gareth Williams, Telling Tales: Fantasy and Fear in Contemporary Design (London: V&A Publishing, 2009). 17. See Suzanne Frank, Peter Eisenman's House VI: The Client's Response (New York: Watson-Guptil Publications, 1994). 18. For a detailed discussion of device art see Machiko Kusahara, "Device Art: A New Approach in Understanding Japanese Contemporary Media Art," in Media Art Histories, ed. Oliver Grau (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007), 277307. 19. For more examples and discussion of work like this, see Conny Freyer et al., eds., Digital by Design (London: Thames and Hudson, 2008).


pages: 98 words: 29,610

From Bauhaus to Our House by Tom Wolfe

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Bonfire of the Vanities, Buckminster Fuller, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Peter Eisenman, Plutocrats, plutocrats, The Chicago School, urban renewal

They were convinced that the way to be nonbourgeois, in the new age, was to be scrupulously pure, as Corbu had been scrupulously pure, and to be baffling. Baffling was their contribution. The Whites. Architecture’s about-face avant-garde, marching resolutely back to the 1920s and Corbu’s early phase, with R & R at Gerrit Rietveld’s. Peter Eisenman, House II. Richard Meier, Douglas House. Charles Gwathmey, Bridgehampton residence. Corbu was a pane of glass compared to, say, Peter Eisenman, an architect who ran the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York, which put out the two major organs of the Whites, Oppositions and Skyline. Eisenman was Corbu, if Corbu had ever gone to Holland and been hypnotized by Gerrit Rietveld. Eisenman designed white buildings that were Expressed Structure Heaven.

Then came the exodus. Half of America’s architects seemed to be working, if they were working at all, for the Shah of Iran. Forty percent seemed to be working for King Saud the Good. The rest stayed behind to vie for fame within the intellectual competition of the academies. In 1972, a new compound, known as the Whites, or the New York Five, made its bid with a book entitled Five Architects, the five being Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, John Hejduk, Richard Meier, and Charles Gwathmey. They played Anselm or Abelard to Venturi’s Roscellinus. In their bid to appear original without violating the fundamental assumptions of modernism, they took the position that the true way would be found not in the land of the sprawling middle-middles but in a return to first principles. Their idea was to return to the purest of all the purists, Dr.


pages: 441 words: 135,176

The Edifice Complex: How the Rich and Powerful--And Their Architects--Shape the World by Deyan Sudjic

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Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, British Empire, call centre, colonial rule, Columbine, cuban missile crisis, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Frank Gehry, glass ceiling, Guggenheim Bilbao, haute couture, haute cuisine, megastructure, Mikhail Gorbachev, new economy, New Urbanism, oil shock, Peter Eisenman, Ronald Reagan, Socratic dialogue, urban planning, urban renewal, V2 rocket, Victor Gruen

In the flesh, the mosque is not a particularly effective way of demonstrating Iraqi defiance; and since Hussein’s purpose was to present himself as a devout Muslim, it seems unlikely that he would use the Christian calendar to do it. This emphasis on the power of numbers, if it really is intentional, was uncomfortably echoed in some of the seven plans to rebuild the World Trade Center, revealed in New York in the same week that the story appeared. Richard Meier and Peter Eisenman designed a tower 1,111 feet high, presumably on the basis that a mere 911 feet would have been too short to attract enough attention. Daniel Libeskind famously went for 1,776 feet. One interpretation of Hussein’s enthusiasm for building could be to see him simply as following in the tradition common all over Asia and the Middle East, of employing fashionable Western architects to design prestige projects to demonstrate how up to date he was.

It came in sections raised up to chest height, so they could be pulled apart to offer Hitler a closer look at the façades, and allow him to explore the effect from pavement level under different lighting conditions. The model was painted to suggest the materials that would have been used, and marching ranks of lead toy soldiers set the mood. Hitler would lead expeditions of dinner guests with flash lights across the garden of the Chancellery – occupied today by Peter Eisenman’s holocaust memorial – and through a specially built rear entrance to the studio to see it late at night. There were more detailed models of individual buildings, and much bigger models of Hitler’s two personal designs: the triumphal arch and the great hall. As preparations for building began, life-size replicas of sections of the façades were commissioned by Speer and installed on an outdoor site at Treptow, on the edge of Berlin, to give an idea of what to expect.

It is inconceivable that any other architect would have had the same treatment, not even Frank Gehry, who, with Brad Pitt in and out of his office, is certainly no stranger to stardom. The Vanity Fair photograph is a tribute not so much to the significance of Johnson’s contribution to the history of architecture as a reminder of his importance to the cult of fame. Frank Gehry sits on one side of Johnson, alongside Peter Eisenman. Arata Isozaki has flown in from Tokyo, Rem Koolhaas from Rotterdam and Zaha Hadid from London. Their presence seems to suggest not just a tribute to Johnson on their part, but a sense of an acceptance of the old man’s benediction, a laying-on of hands that has certainly helped their careers over the years. Johnson looks exactly the same each year while the selection of guests in the Vanity Fair photograph gets steadily younger to demonstrate his continuing grip over architectural life.


pages: 342 words: 90,734

Mysteries of the Mall: And Other Essays by Witold Rybczynski

additive manufacturing, airport security, Buckminster Fuller, City Beautiful movement, edge city, Frank Gehry, Guggenheim Bilbao, Jane Jacobs, kremlinology, Marshall McLuhan, new economy, New Urbanism, out of africa, Peter Eisenman, rent control, Silicon Valley, the High Line, urban renewal, young professional

Instead of a single sheltering gable, the roof was broken up into several slopes. This is a favorite device of commercial home builders and is obviously a crowd-pleaser, although the roof has always seemed to me an odd thing to spend your money on. The complexity of the roof was mirrored by the intricacy of the windows: there were half a dozen different shapes and sizes. The modest house was hardly in a league with Frank Gehry or Peter Eisenman, but it was busy. I realized that I had to say something more substantive, but I wasn’t sure where to start. I believe that small, inexpensive houses like Danièle and Luc’s should be as simple as possible. This is partly a question of economics; complexity costs money, after all, and I would rather see a restricted budget devoted to better-quality materials than to architectural bravura. But it is also an aesthetic issue.

Mies van der Rohe designed the Farnsworth House and Philip Johnson the Glass House, Richard Neutra built the Kaufmann House, and Charles and Ray Eames built the influential Case Study House No. 8. Postmodernism, too, has had domestic landmarks, not only the Vanna Venturi House, but also Charles Moore’s weekend cottage in Orinda, California. Then there’s Richard Meier’s Smith House, Frank Gehry’s own house in Santa Monica, and Peter Eisenman’s House VI. There have been so many significant houses that it would be easy to compile a convincing history of twentieth-century architecture illustrated solely by residences. There are several explanations for this curious fact. The simplest is that it is easier for a talented young architect to receive a small private commission than a large public one. And if a client is not forthcoming, a tyro with time on his hands can strut his stuff by building his own home, as Johnson, the Eameses, Moore, and Gehry did.

Stern’s fascination with early twentieth-century eclecticism. The buildings of Michael Graves, arguably the most talented of the postmodernists, progressively owe more and more to European classicism, especially to the ancient cultures of the Mediterranean. Nor is Americanness an issue in the work of what passes for the avant-garde today. Not only is the outlook of architects like Frank Gehry and Peter Eisenman international, like their practices, but if deconstructivism has any roots—other, that is, than in the Euro-American world of high fashion—it’s probably in the abstract architecture of the Russian constructivists of the early Soviet Union. As the millennium approaches, it is obvious that Johnson was mistaken: Wright was—is—America’s greatest twentieth-century architect, not only by dint of his considerable architectural accomplishments, which have proved remarkably durable, but also because of their very Americanness.


pages: 903 words: 235,753

The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty by Benjamin H. Bratton

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1960s counterculture, 3D printing, 4chan, Ada Lovelace, additive manufacturing, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, Celebration, Florida, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, David Graeber, deglobalization, dematerialisation, disintermediation, distributed generation, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, Georg Cantor, gig economy, global supply chain, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Guggenheim Bilbao, High speed trading, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, industrial robot, information retrieval, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, liberal capitalism, lifelogging, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, means of production, megacity, megastructure, Menlo Park, Minecraft, Monroe Doctrine, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, peak oil, peer-to-peer, performance metric, personalized medicine, Peter Eisenman, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Philip Mirowski, Pierre-Simon Laplace, place-making, planetary scale, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Robert Bork, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, semantic web, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Slavoj Žižek, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, software studies, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Startup school, statistical arbitrage, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, Superbowl ad, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, the built environment, The Chicago School, the scientific method, Torches of Freedom, transaction costs, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, urban planning, Vernor Vinge, Washington Consensus, web application, Westphalian system, WikiLeaks, working poor, Y Combinator

For a fascinating discussion of the role of program as a technique of provocation in the late-1970s architectural avant-garde, see Rem Koolhaas and Bernard Tschumi, “Two Architects 10 Questions on Program Rem Koolhaas + Bernard Tschumi,” Praxis 8: Journal of Writing and Building, May 18, 2006. 29.  It may be a matter of debate whether for parametricism that a shift away from representation is at work, or whether the style has introduced a formal vocabulary for the indexical expression of fast finance in building form. Schumacher, however, may not find this such a problem. See “I Am Trying to Imagine a Radical Free Market Urbanism: Conversation between Peter Eisenman and Patrik Schumacher,” Log 28 (Summer 2013). However, this is not the only perspective available. Luciana Parisi has outlined a more promising alternative grammar of algorithmic thought and practice in contrast to deterministic homeostasis and formal closure in her Contagious Architecture: Computation, Aesthetics, and Space (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013). Instead, (through her reading of Alfred North Whitehead) architecture is staged as a mereotopology of points, parts, and wholes, and put into motion by algorithmic machines toward open-ended, ultimately contingent and indeterminate cascades of formation, information, and deformation.

See also Sabrina Van Der Ley and Markus Richter, Megastructure Reloaded: Visionäre Stadtentwürfe Der Sechzigerjahre Reflektiert Von Zeitgenössischen Künstlern = Visionary Architecture and Urban Design of the Sixties Reflected by Contemporary Artists (Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2008). 50.  The Bilbao region in Spain experienced significant economic growth concurrent with the opening of the Frank Gehry designed Guggenheim Bilbao and opening in 1997. The “Bilbao effect” is a termed coined by Peter Eisenman to refer to the misguided hope of second-tier cites that adding some flashy new architectural icons would magically boost their city's brand and regional economy. 51.  Perhaps a future Erich von Daniken will interpret Foster's structures as proof of alien intelligence on Earth's moon. 52.  Yes, “Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space.” 53.  Easterling reaches the same conclusion for different reasons in “New Monuments: Keller Easterling on Norman Foster's Crystal Island, ”Artforum International 46, no. 10 (Summer 2008). 54. 


pages: 306 words: 92,704

After the Berlin Wall by Christopher Hilton

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anti-communist, Berlin Wall, land reform, Mikhail Gorbachev, Peter Eisenman, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Silicon Valley, urban planning, urban renewal, women in the workforce

It is situated on what used to be the death strip not far from the Brandenburg Gate. The tourists are confronted by 2,711 unmarked concrete slabs arranged symmetrically, meaning each is freestanding and you can walk through them from north–south or east–west, corridor after corridor. Each slab slants slightly and is a different size, just as the victims were, and the middle of the area is lower so you are constantly descending or ascending. The architect, Peter Eisenman, has been quoted as saying: ‘I fought to keep names off the stones, because having names on them would turn it into a graveyard.’ At the opening ceremony Chancellor Gerhard Schröder made all the right noises and insisted that Germany was now ‘facing up to its own history’. Inevitably the memorial has drawn to itself praise and criticism – it’s too abstract, it was done too late (the idea only approved in 1999, opened in 2005), it does not commemorate all the others apart from Jews who died in the Holocaust.


pages: 313 words: 92,053

Places of the Heart: The Psychogeography of Everyday Life by Colin Ellard

augmented reality, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Broken windows theory, Buckminster Fuller, carbon footprint, commoditize, crowdsourcing, Frank Gehry, Google Glasses, Guggenheim Bilbao, haute couture, Howard Rheingold, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, mass immigration, megastructure, more computing power than Apollo, Oculus Rift, Peter Eisenman, RFID, Richard Florida, risk tolerance, sentiment analysis, smart cities, the built environment, theory of mind, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, Victor Gruen

As we arrived at the intersections of the walkways, we were able to see all the way to the outside of the monument through long, narrow, empty corridors that skewered us in the gaze of any faraway onlookers standing on the outside of the structure. Our disorientation among blocks that obscured our view of the outside world, the feeling of loss that came from separation from each other, and the occasional visual penetration by the long unoccluded pathways produced a powerful set of feelings: fear, anxiety, sadness, and loneliness. What Peter Eisenman, the designer of the monument had managed to do was to build a structure that resonated with small but potent echoes of many of the feelings that must have been experienced by Jews persecuted during World War II, and he had done this in such a way that the power of the experience could only be had through embodiment. One had to join with the installation, walk through it, and get lost. When one did so, the grief and fear were palpable and convincing.


pages: 313 words: 100,317

Berlin Now: The City After the Wall by Peter Schneider, Sophie Schlondorff

Berlin Wall, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, mass immigration, New Urbanism, Peter Eisenman, rent control, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Silicon Valley, young professional

The “nonmonument” proposed by the previously mentioned artist duo Renata Stih and Frieder Schnock stood out from this aesthetic and moral mishmash. Instead of turning the space near the Brandenburg Gate into a memorial, they wanted to build a bus station there, from which buses would leave regularly for concentration camps and other sites in Europe associated with the German extermination machinery. The design of the New York duo Peter Eisenman and Richard Serra ultimately emerged victorious from the final round of the competition. Reminiscent of tombstones, dark gray concrete steles of various heights, arranged in narrow, parallel rows, cover a slightly undulating surface of some 4.7 acres. Thanks to the initiative of the state minister of culture Michael Naumann, an urgently needed museum, the so-called Place of Information, was added to their design for the memorial; the originally planned number of steles of various heights was reduced from 4,000 to 2,711.


pages: 341 words: 116,854

The Devil's Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square by James Traub

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Anton Chekhov, Broken windows theory, Buckminster Fuller, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, fear of failure, intangible asset, Jane Jacobs, jitney, light touch regulation, megastructure, New Urbanism, Peter Eisenman, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, rent control, Ronald Reagan, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal

The new Times Square was, itself, a hybrid place—for, just as Toys “R” Us made Times Square into a more “family-oriented” locale by placing its flagship store there, so Morgan Stanley helped erase the distinction between the corporate world of midtown Manhattan and the old honky-tonk world of Times Square. Kennon is a sandy-haired, soft-spoken man of an academic bent. His father had been the head of the largest corporate architecture firm in the United States and the dean of architecture at Rice University. While still in college, Kennon had studied at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, a study group founded by a group of young architects and theorists, including Peter Eisenman and Kenneth Frampton. One of Kennon’s fellow students was Rem Koolhaas, who was working on a project that ultimately became Delirious New York, a manifesto that celebrated Manhattan’s raw power and indifference to traditional aesthetic standards, somewhat as Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour had done with Las Vegas. Koolhaas wanted to celebrate Times Square, and its frankly commercial and bluntly sexual traditions, rather than gentrify or erase them.


pages: 410 words: 119,823

Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life by Adam Greenfield

3D printing, Airbnb, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, bank run, barriers to entry, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, business intelligence, business process, call centre, cellular automata, centralized clearinghouse, centre right, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable, cloud computing, collective bargaining, combinatorial explosion, Computer Numeric Control, computer vision, Conway's Game of Life, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, dematerialisation, digital map, distributed ledger, drone strike, Elon Musk, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, fiat currency, global supply chain, global village, Google Glasses, IBM and the Holocaust, industrial robot, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet of things, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, late capitalism, license plate recognition, lifelogging, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, megacity, megastructure, minimum viable product, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, natural language processing, Network effects, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, Oculus Rift, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, Pearl River Delta, performance metric, Peter Eisenman, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, post scarcity, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, RFID, rolodex, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart cities, smart contracts, sorting algorithm, special economic zone, speech recognition, stakhanovite, statistical model, stem cell, technoutopianism, Tesla Model S, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Future of Employment, transaction costs, Uber for X, universal basic income, urban planning, urban sprawl, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce

A long walk to the east along leafy Karl-Marx-Allee—between 1949 and 1961, Stalinallee—takes you to the headquarters of the Stasi, the feared secret police of the former East Germany, also open to the public as a museum. But there’s nowhere in Berlin where the curious cost of remembering can be more keenly felt than in the field of 2,711 concrete slabs at the corner of Ebertstrasse and Hannah-Arendt-Strasse. This is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, devised by architect Peter Eisenman, with early conceptual help from the great sculptor Richard Serra. Formally, the grim array is the best thing Eisenman has ever set his hand to—here we are most likely perceiving Serra’s influence. But as a site of memory, the Monument leaves a great deal to be desired. It’s what Michel Foucault called a heterotopia: something set apart from the ordinary operations of the city, physically and semantically, a place of such ponderous gravity that visitors don’t quite know what to make of it.