Letter to the Editor> Is Stoner Stoned?

East
Friday, May 24, 2013
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(COURTESY MIT PRESS)

(COURTESY MIT PRESS)

[ Editor's Note: The following is a reader-submitted letter to the editor that ran in print edition, AN 05_04.10.2013. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com]

It is hard to believe that The MIT Press published Jill Stoner’s Towards a Minor Architecture based on the kind of prose indicated in Jeffrey Hogrefe’s review of the book (Literary Unbuilding AN 03_03.06.2013). Stoner writes, “Architecture can no longer limit itself to the aesthetic pursuit of making buildings; it must now commit to a politics of selectively taking them apart.” Really? We think we know what she “means,” but this really is bad writing. There is no architecture, only works of architecture. People are involved in aesthetic or other pursuits, not architecture.

She’s also quoted writing, “Le Corbusier’s Towards a New Architecture, which heralded a century of formalism.” This is certainly not what Towards a New Architecture did. Perhaps Stoner doesn’t like the work of Richard Meier. Towards a New Architecture was probably the most important book on architecture written in the twentieth century. Do not confuse one chapter on Regulating Lines for formalism. Remember the blunt conclusion of that book: “Architecture or Revolution.” Corbu certainly made his choice.

Further on in the review Kafka is described as “the Jew and Czech, as outsider in the fervent Germany of the early twentieth century.” He was an “outsider” in Prague (he had a very well paid civil service job and was known to frequent a lot of women in his hometown), where the dominant German language was part of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire… not Germany. Yet further on we read about a collective thesis project, which undertook to “dismantle and rewrite a chain of abandoned Circuit City Stores.” And then there is something called the “new nature of entropy.” This is nothing but the jargon of authenticity. Adorno must be rolling over in his grave.

Jeff Kieffer
Architect, New York City Department of Design and Construction

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