Monday, March 06, 2006

Architecture must burn . . . maybe

Yesterday I picked up a copy of Aaron Betsky's 2000 manifesto "Architecture Must Burn" at a used bookstore in suburban Cleveland. I was neither moved nor repulsed by the text put forth by the globtrotting theorist, but I did find the graphic design rather annoying.

There were two things that I found interesting after reading and reflecting upon the brief screed:

1. Current Manifestos, like current technologies, have ever-diminishing half-lives. The ideas published just over five years ago are somewhat stale and out of architectural fashion already.

2. The tone of the text seemed to also contradict some of the notions put forth by Mr. Betsky at a recent symposium this past fall at Cleveland State University. The "go-with-the-sprawl" thesis present in the manifesto disappeared from his critique of American sprawl offered in September.

Don't get me wrong--theorists are allowed to alter their tunes. But the above observations demonstrate the thin-ness or ephemerality of the foundations upon which these intellectual provocations rest.