This work provides a glimpse into the mind of the architect. It contains essays from 25 of the world's foremost architects, from Michael Graves to Richard Meier, who describe their greatest influential mentors and why they had such an enormous impact on their work. Each essay is illustrated with full-page photography of both the architect's work and that of their mentor.
Get architects to write about their mentors and they may disclose more of themselves than when writing or talking about their own work. Such revelations are among the pleasure of this book. The 24 contributors are well known. Some reveal themselves to be quite selfless, some to be self-absorbed, but all show themselves to be "people who think and learn, and whose ideas do not spring full-blown from their heads," as Paul Goldberger accurately says in the foreword. Some have written gemlike tributes, notably Tadao Ando to Le Corbusier and Norman Foster to Paul Rudolph. Others are more solipsistic, particularly Michael Graves, FAIA, on Le Corbusier. A full five eulogize Corbu, which doesn't come as a surprise. But that Rudolph is honored by four - albeit four Yalies - is telling, and especially that one of them is Robert A.M. Stern, FAIA, who has spent most of his career rebelling against Rudolphian Modernism. And who would have guessed that Henry Cobb, FAIA, would select H.H. Richardson as his mentor, in part of his "intuitive capacity, which we would not be wrong to call genius." Or that Richard Meier, CAIA, with his many built references to Corbu, would nevertheless single out Wright and Fallingwater? But remember, this is a book about memory, and, as John Irving wrote in A Prayer for Owen Meany, "You think you have a memory, but it has you." Architectural Record 20020508 ARCHITECTS ON ARCHITECTS by Susan Gray Review written by D.P. Doordan, University of Notre Dame The title neatly describes this book: 24 contemporary architects contribute short essays about an architect (or, in four cases, a building) whose work possesses special significance for them. Essays are illustrated with photos of the author's as well as the subject's work. The book's value lies in the insights each essay offers into the thinking of the contributors. The personal quality of each contributor's reflections and the quirky nature of their sections (Richard Meier's surprising decision to write about Frank Lloyd Wright, for example) will appeal most strongly to readers already familiar with the names and work discussed. The list of contributors is international but, like the rest of this book, eccentric. No rationale for inclusion is provided and no conclusions about the state of contemporary architecture are offered. Editor Gray previously conceived and photographed the collection Writers on Directors (1999). Pulitzer Prize winning architecture critic Paul Goldberger contributes a brief but thoughtful foreword introducing the reader to the type of autobiographical writing characteristic of Architects on Architects. Supplemental material is limited to capsule curriculum vitae for authors and the subject of each essay. Graduate students through professionals. Choice 20020401 ARCHITECTS ON ARCHITECTS. Edited by Susan Gray. (McGraw-Hill, $39.95.) Review by Martin Filler Practitioners of a wildly competitive art form, architects are always looking over their shoulders, not just at contemporaries with whom they must compete for jobs but also at the great predecessors against whom they'll be measured by history. The master builders that 24 present-day architects chose to write about for this revealing if somewhat repetitive collection tell as much about the authors as their subjects. Predictably, many of the participants (all men, with the exception of Diana Agrest) gravitated toward the big boys of modernism, and three architects are the focus of almost half the essays, with five on Le Corbusier, four on Paul Rudolph and two on Louis I. Kahn. Sometimes those pairings can seem willfully contradictory. It would have been far more interesting to find out what Richard Meier thinks about Le Corbusier, who has had such an overwhelming influence on his own aesthetic, than for him to draw tenuous analogies between his work and the diametrically different architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. Likewise, there is more than a bit of irony in Michael Graves's praise for Le Corbusier, whom he routinely belittled in lectures earlier in his career. Much more edifying is Tadao Ando's epiphany on his first visit to Le Corbusier's Ronchamp chapel: "Because of the overwhelming spatial experience, which penetrated deep into my soul, I had to escape after staying less than one hour. I was awe-struck by a light unprecedented in my life." Best among the other appreciations are Carlos Jimenez on Luis Barragan; Ricardo Legorreta on another Mexican, the little-remembered Jose Villagran; and Hugh Hardy on William van Alen, architect of the Chrysler Building. As Hardy writes of that idiosyncratic aluminum-spired skyscraper, "This iconic office building goes for broke, flaunting the exterior skin's independence as a costume pageant of pattern, gleaming profiles and symbolic panache. It's a theatrical gesture that identifies this as a building like no other, and gives New Yorkers proof that they are extraordinary." The New York Times 20011202 Reviewed by Ken Tadashi Oshima Who inspired the Who's Who of Architecture? ARCHITECTS ON ARCHITECTS attempts to address this loaded question in a series of 24 essays by leading architects of the late twentieth century from around the world--from Norman Foster to Carlos Jimenez to Tadao Ando. As the essays illustrate, influence is actually not simply a question of "who?" but rather comes from a number of different sources: a single building, an entire career of an architect, or sometimes just an attitude or way of looking. Many of these influential experiences happened during the architect's formative years as students or interns and the impact of how these influences changed the direction of a life are revealed for the first time in these later career recollections. For Richard Rogers, his visit to the Maison de Verre as a student in 1955 would not only determine his thesis project, it would stay with him through the next half century as the symbol of "the power of innovation itself." For Tadao Ando, Le Corbusier's words in Vers une Architecture stressing that a journey in one's youth has a deep and strong significance throughout a lifetime inspired the young untrained aspiring architect to visit Le Corbusier's church at Ronchamp in 1965. As the essays attest, the importance of an architect can be measured not only by his or her designs, but also by the architect's impact on other architect's careers. Based on this criteria, Le Corbusier, Paul Rudolph, and Louis Kahn appear in these essays as some of the most influential architects. However, although five of the 24 essays are devoted to Le Corbusier, we see five very different aspects of the master architect: Ando describes impressions of Ronchamp, Michael Graves talks about Le Corbusier's method of drawing, William Lim discusses him in relation to Frank Gehry, Sumet Jumsai describes his personal meeting, and Arata Isozaki describes the context of his death. While Paul Rudolph's reputation suffered greatly during the Postmodern period, we see his lasting impact through his students who studied at Yale ranging from Norman Foster to current dean Robert A. M. Stern. One of the most interesting aspects of this collection is the great variety of topics that the architects chose to write about. Some easily understandable choices include Cesar Pelli writing about his mentor and former employer Eero Saarinen and high-rise building specialist William Pederson writing about Rockefeller Center. However, it might come as a surprise to see Diana Agrest writing about architect-turned-filmmaker Sergei M. Eisenstein or Richard Meier writing about Frank Lloyd Wright rather than Le Corbusier. For the most part, these short essays are poignantly written--a refreshing change from the typical arrogance and incoherence of many architects writing about their own work. Nevertheless, the essays shed great insight into the architects' inner thinking and also reveal architecture as a collective profession greater than the work of any single architect. The collection serves as a valuable document to understand this generation of architects from the second half of the twentieth century and also begs the question of how this generation will influence future generations of architects. Architecture & Urbanism 20011201 In a tried-and-true pop-scholarly format, writer and photographer Susan Gray (Writers on Directors) presents Architects on Architects. The essays include Mario Grandelsonas on Mies van der Rohe, Cesar Pelli on Eero Saarinen, Diana Agrest on Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein, Charles Gwathmey on Louis Kahn and Der Scutt on Paul Rudolph. The contributors discuss the impact of their heroes and teachers on their own work, and many pieces convey nostalgia, admiration and gratitude. Arata Isozaki discusses Le Corbusier's death by drowning in relation to his vision: "the sea was the substance of motive force that provoked all of his imagination by permeating every detail of his body." Ricardo Legorreta describes studying under Jose Villagran at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. With 200 elegant photos and illustrations of work by both mentors and mentees, architects and enthusiasts will delight in this moving, erudite collection. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Publisher's Weekly 20011105