Whether built, written or drawn, the work of renowned architect, theorist and educator Peter Eisenman (born 11th August 1932) is characterized by Deconstructivism, with an interest in signs, symbols and the processes of making meaning always at the foreground. As such, Eisenman has been one of architecture’s foremost theorists of recent decades; however he has also at times been a controversial figure in the architectural world, professing a disinterest in many of the more pragmatic concerns that other architects engage in.
After receiving degrees in architecture from Cornell and Columbia universities and then a PhD from Cambridge university, Eisenman rose to fame in the late ‘60s, as part of the New York Five, a group that shared an interest in the purity of architectural form and besides Eisenman included Michael Graves, Richard Meier, John Hejduk and Charles Gwathmey.
Eisenman has maintained his position at the fore of architectural theory thanks to what Stefano Corbo, in his book “From Formalism to Weak Form,” calls “propagandistic activity”: for example, from 1967 to 1982, Eisenman founded and directed the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies (IAUS), which brought together many key figures, Kenneth Frampton, Rem Koolhaas and Anthony Vidler among them. Currently, Eisenman teaches at Yale and is professor emeritus at the Cooper Union school of architecture.
In the 1980s, Eisenman tried to connect architecture to the ideas of deconstructivist philosophy through an ambitious collaboration with the philosopher Jacques Derrida on his competition entry to design the Parc de la Villette. The collaboration did not go to plan: not only did the design lose to fellow deconstructivist Bernard Tschumi, but during their correspondence Derrida began to question the rigor of Eisenman’s architectural deconstructivism. Nevertheless, ten years later, Eisenman chose to publish his entire correspondence with Derrida in the book “Chora L Works: Jacques Derrida and Peter Eisenman.”
Given his significant influence in the profession, Eisenman has built surprisingly little; however the buildings he has completed are often incredibly dense in their ideological underpinning, frozen manifestos for his theory. Among his most critical works are House VI, the Wexner Center for the Arts, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the City of Culture of Galicia.
See all of Peter Eisenman’s built work featured on ArchDaily via the thumbnails below, and further coverage of the architect and his theories below those: