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Peter Eisenman

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Title: Peter Eisenman  
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Subject: John Hejduk, Wolf Prize in Arts, Starchitect, Robert Eisenman, Conceptual architecture
Collection: 1932 Births, Alumni of Trinity College, Cambridge, American Architects, American Architecture Writers, American Jews, American Male Writers, Architectural Theoreticians, Architecture Educators, Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Alumni, Columbia University Alumni, Cornell University Alumni, Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning Alumni, Deconstructivism, Guggenheim Fellows, Jewish Architects, Living People, Members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, National Design Award Winners, People from Newark, New Jersey, Postmodern Architects, Wolf Prize in Arts Laureates, Yale School of Architecture Faculty
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Peter Eisenman

Peter Eisenman
© Peter Eisenman, Andrew Lazaris, Panayotis Pangalos, Parthenon, Acropolis, Athens, Greece, 2013
Born (1932-08-11) August 11, 1932
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation Architect
Buildings House VI
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
City of Culture of Galicia

Peter Eisenman (born 1932) is an American architect.


  • Biography 1
    • Early life 1.1
    • Career 1.2
  • Buildings and works 2
  • Bibliography 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Early life

Peter Eisenman was born on August 11, 1932, in Newark, New Jersey.[1] As a child, he attended Columbia High School located in Maplewood, New Jersey. He transferred in to the architecture school as an undergraduate at Cornell University and gave up his position on the swimming team in order to commit full-time to his studies. He received a Bachelor of Architecture Degree from Cornell, a Master of Architecture Degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Cambridge. He received an honorary degree from Syracuse University School of Architecture in 2007.


He first rose to prominence as a member of the New York Five (also known as the Whites, as opposed to the Grays of Yale: Robert A.M. Stern, Charles Moore, etc.), five architects (Eisenman, Charles Gwathmey, John Hejduk, Richard Meier, and Michael Graves) some of whose work was presented at a CASE Studies conference in 1967. Eisenman received a number of grants from the Graham Foundation for work done in this period. These architects' work at the time was often considered a reworking of the ideas of Le Corbusier. Subsequently, the five architects each developed unique styles and ideologies, with Eisenman becoming more affiliated with Deconstructivism.

He currently teaches theory seminars and advanced design studios at the Yale School of Architecture.[2] He is Professor Emeritus at the Cooper Union School of Architecture.[3] Previously, he taught at the University of Cambridge, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and the Ohio State University. Peter Eisenman founded the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in 1967, serving as its Executive Director until 1981.

His professional work is often referred to as formalist, deconstructive, late avant-garde, late or high modernist, etc. A certain fragmenting of forms visible in some of his projects has been identified as characteristic of an eclectic group of architects that were (self-)labeled as deconstructivists, and who were featured in an exhibition by the same name at the Museum of Modern Art. The heading also refers to the storied relationship and collaborations between Peter Eisenman and post-structuralist thinker Jacques Derrida.[4]

His writings have pursued topics including comparative formal analyses; the emancipation and autonomization of the discipline; and histories of Architects including: Fredric Jameson, Laurie Olin, Rosalind Krauss and Jacques Derrida.[5]

His focus on "liberating" architectural form was notable from an academic and theoretical standpoint but resulted in structures that were both badly built and hostile to users. The Wexner Center, hotly anticipated as the first major public deconstructivist building, has required extensive and expensive retrofitting because of elementary design flaws (such as incompetent material specifications, and fine art exhibition space exposed to direct sunlight). It was frequently repeated that the Wexner's colliding planes tended to make its users disoriented to the point of physical nausea; in 1997 researcher Michael Pollan tracked the source of this rumor back to Eisenman himself. In the words of Andrew Ballantyne, "By some scale of values he was actually enhancing the reputation of his building by letting it be known that it was hostile to humanity."

His House VI, designed for clients Richard and Suzanne Frank in the mid 1970s, confounds expectations of structure and function. Suzanne Frank was initially sympathetic and patient with Eisenman's theories and demands. But after years of fixes to the badly specified and misbegotten House VI (which had first broken the Franks' budget then consumed their life savings), Suzanne Frank was prompted to strike back with Peter Eisenman's House VI: The Client's Response, in which she admitted both the problems of the building, as much as its virtues.

He has also embarked on a larger series of building projects in his career, including the recently completed Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin and the new University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. His largest project to date is the City of Culture of Galicia in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. He is featured in wide print and many films, including the 30 minute 2008 film Peter Eisenman: University of Phoenix Stadium for the Arizona Cardinals where he provides a tour of his recent construction. In 2001, he won the National Design Award for Architecture from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.[6]

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe at the site of the gardens of the former Reich Chancellery in Berlin.
Another view of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Buildings and works

USGS satellite image of the Greater Columbus Convention Center.


  • Peter Eisenman, Houses of Cards. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. ISBN 0-19-505130-0
  • Peter Eisenman, Diagram Diaries (Universe Architecture Series), Thames and Hudson, 1999. ISBN 0-7893-0264-0
  • Blurred Zones: Investigations of the Interstitial : Eisenman Architects 1988-1998
  • Peter Eisenman, Giuseppe Terragni: Transformations, Decompositions, Critiques, New York, The Monacelli Press 2003 ISBN 1-885254-96-2
  • Peter Eisenman, Eisenman Inside Out. Selected Writings 1963-1988, New Haven-London, Yale University Press 2004 ISBN 0-300-09008-0
  • Peter Eisenman, Ten Canonical Buildings 1950-2000, New York, Rizzoli International Publications inc. 2008 ISBN 0-8478-3048-9


  1. ^ Peter Eisenman, Great Buildings Online. Accessed September 19, 2008.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Derrida's Garden by Eleanor Morgan in Fillip
  6. ^


  • Interview: Peter Eisenman, Threshold, Rizzoli, 1983.
  • Kari Jormakka, Interview with Peter Eisenman, Datutop 14, 1991.
  • What Is Architecture?, Andrew Ballantyne, Routledge, 2002.
  • Pangalos P., Petridou V., The imprint of Eisenman, ed. Futura, Athens, 2013.

External links

  • Eisenman Architects official website
  • Peter Eisenman archive at the Canadian Centre for Architecture
  • Video interview with Eisenman from 1996
  • interview
  • interview
  • Eisenman's politics an interview with Robert Locke
  • Eisenmania
  • "Being Eisenman" video 2004, a personal interview with famous architecture friends on YouTube
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