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« A Week With Nikos Salingaros -- Part One | Main | A Week With Nikos Salingaros -- Part Three »

May 01, 2003

A Week With Nikos Salingaros -- Part Two

2Blowhards is taking a hiatus from the usual to devote a week to a conversation with the architectural theorist Nikos Salingaros. This is Part Two. Part One is here.



2B: How do you and your wife live?
We live in a small European-size apartment, and endure continuous criticism from friends, acquaintances and colleagues because we so flagrantly violate the life-style of living in a suburban ranch-style house. While I was single, I did own a historic turn-of-the-century Southern Mansion on a vast lot, whose spaces and carved wood, and trees I enjoyed. But it is not for long-term use.

2B: Have you always been an arts buff?
I started out as an artist. I was a painter. In high school, I competed with professional painters. I had commissions -- I did portraits, and rather successfully. I had one-man shows. But because of my very early success, I got involved in the field, and I found it was a dog-eat-dog field and not a very good profession. So I decided to go into science instead, which seems to be much more stable as a profession.

2B: I know a lot of people who looked into the arts and found it too nutty a place to spend a lifetime there.
As far as getting into architecture, I met Christopher Alexander about 20 years ago. He asked me to help him on "The Nature of Order," which he was writing and re-writing. So I let him bounce ideas off me, and I helped with editing. This thing sort of took me over. After 15 years, it had completely taken over my life. What I had been doing was working to develop a thermonuclear fusion reactor to give cheap electricity for mankind. And now I had the thought, Well, what Christopher is doing is more important than this.

An Alexander thought being thought; an Alexander building being built

2B: How did you and Christopher Alexander happen to meet?
I was in Berkeley to meet a mathematician friend, and I had read Christopher's books "Notes on the Synthesis of Form" and "A Pattern Language." I had even given a talk on "A Pattern Language" when I was visiting Greece. So I called the great man. His wife answered and said, "He cannot possibly meet you." And I said, "But I'm a physicist and a mathematician." And she said, "Well, hold on ... Can you come tomorrow and have coffee with him?" I went to meet him, and he said, "I'm glad you came. I have many things I want to discuss with you. With my fellow architects, it's like talking to a blank wall. I cannot get anything across, and can't get anything useful out of them. So I want to talk to someone like you." That's how our friendship got started.

2B: What kind of attention had you paid to architecture before becoming friends with Christopher Alexander?
When I was a graduate student I went through much of the architectural literature just to try to get a broader perspective on architecture. I was puzzled by everything, and only Christopher’s writing made any sense to me. So I made a note: Here is one individual who understands what architecture is. His name stuck in my mind.

2B: When you started paying attention to architecture again and you ran into modernist orthodoxy, what was your first, non-intellectual, response to it?
Well, on first exposure, my first response was, "This stuff is unpleasant." It was either that or neutral. But especially unpleasant. Even before looking at the theory, just looking at the buildings in pictures and being in them in person, I thought, "This stuff is not nourishing." Now, I grew up in Greece, and I know that certain pieces of man-made matter can be tremendously nourishing. There are bits and pieces in Greece that are not totally destroyed, that are classical, Hellenistic, Byzantine, 18th century, 19th century. And I remember as a child that whenever I was near these pieces, there was a tremendous emotional nourishment. I remember that nourishment like having tasted a particular fruit or a cake. It was so strong I never forgot the taste. And that nourishment recurred very rarely, but it did recur in isolated cases in buildings. But most of what’s being built today, no. It’s not there. So it was a function of the geometry of the materials, the configuration ... It was something. And from all the stuff I read it seemed that Christopher was the only one who had any idea about what this was.

2B: What prompted you to start doing your own writing on the subject of architecture?
It came involuntarily. After 15 years of being involved with Christopher it sort of gushed out. I had no desire to abandon what I was doing. I was becoming rather successful and well-known, and the last thing I wanted to do was go into architecture. I’m not a trained architect. I have no idea how to lay down piping and beams. But I reached this threshold where the dam overflowed. And I said, This is probably the most important thing I can devote my time to. It is among the most important things to communicate this to the world at large. And the realization that Christopher alone with his students was not enough to do that, that he needed someone else -- I could offer a very different perspective, and a very different approach and interpretation and approach to what Christopher was doing.

2B: Are you still as enthusiastic about painting as you once were?
I don't paint much anymore because when I write my papers on architecture, somehow it's parallel. It's a creative process. And Christopher and I are not really doing architecture. We are looking at how the world is put together. We are looking for the structural basis for life, and how beings connect to that life, and to the universe.

2B: How do your math and physics friends react when they hear what you're up to?
Some are proud of me because I have gone way, way out of the field and am applying mathematics to real practical problems. Others think that I've abandoned real mathematics and they get very hostile. They don't speak to me. They don't question the validity of what I'm doing. They just think mathematicians should be doing real mathematics, which is defined as a page full of equations.

2B: When does the first volume of Alexander's four-volume "The Nature of Order" become available?
Well, Alexander has decided to publish it himself. The first volume is there, it just has to be run. The other volumes are finished and have already been typeset.

2B: I got a look at a version of the book some years ago. Is the final version drastically different than what I saw?
(Laughs) No. I've been telling Christopher to just print it for about ten years.

2B: Does he have a hard time letting go of it?
He correctly envisions "The Nature of Order" to be on the same level as Newton's "Principia" and Darwin's "Origin of Species." I am a down-to-earth, feet-on-the-ground scientist who has worked with this book for the last twenty years. And I think he is correct in his estimation of the importance of this for civilization. He is not exaggerating. The problem is that people who have not seen the book, they hear snippets, they hear him talking about it --

2B: And they think it sounds crazy?
Yeah, they think it sounds crazy. And it's not. I'm sure we will be vindicated when people sit down and read it.

2B: Is there a way to convey to readers what this new way of seeing things is?
It's a new way of looking at nature, and a new way of looking at what mankind constructs and builds on all scales -- from the scale of a toy or a drawing to the scale of a city. And to be able to relate these scales. We have an infinite potential for creating structures. However, we have to juggle with infinities. Of all the vast possibilities of structures that can be created, only a dot in the sea, say, will have some degree of life, where we define life to have a mathematical affinity with natural structures, living, biological or inanimate.
Most of the things we can construct do not have this degree of coherence and organization. What Alexander does is to pinpoint the dot in the ocean that contains the class of structures that have a degree of life that we can construct, whether it is a drawing or a building or a city.
Now when architects first listen to this, because they are not mathematicians, they become horrified. They say, "You are restricting the choices!" But that is a total misunderstanding, because the dimension of that dot is infinite. There are an infinite number of structures that fit into that dot. It is just that the number of possible structures that don't have life is an uncountable number of infinities larger than that. To an ordinary person this just blows their mind. For mathematicians it's like eating breakfast cereal. Following a set of constraints that create living structures does not restrict the number of possible structures, which is always infinite. And how many more choices do you want?

2B: Within that dot is an entire cosmos, there to be endlessly explored.

2B: When I talk to arty friends about this kind of thing, I notice that they tense up especially about two things. One is the idea that there's some objective way of measuring the "life" in a structure. The other is that it's possible to be scientific about beauty.
The answer to both those questions is yes.

2B: How can we convince them in a couple of terse sentences?
You can't convince them. They have to wait until "The Nature of Order" is out, to read all 1500 pages of it, and then to brew on its contents for several years. It's a new world-view that, amazingly enough, goes back to old views that have been erased in modern culture. It links back with religious traditions, philosophical traditions, Eastern traditions, vernacular traditions of architecture, folk art traditions -- folk art before it became trendy, that is. It is the whole creative spirit of the human being. The problem is that words have been thrown around for the last several decades, and they've become cheap and superficial. So we just have to wait for five years for this to be digested. Even if it were available in bookstores tomorrow, people would not know what to make of it.

A microchip? A city seen from above? A cross-section of a cell? A carpet?

2B: Some years ago, when Alexander's book about carpets came out, I gave it to a theater critic friend of mine. He couldn't shut up about it for several months after.
I predict that when people read "The Nature of Order," they will find it so stunning they will not be able to respond. And only slowly will they realize how profoundly important and deep this is.

2B: There's some conjunction around right now: computer science, evolutionary biology, cracking open the genome ... Some threshold has been reached. And it's resulting in some amazing and fresh thinking about the arts.
That is absolutely fair to say. This is cutting edge science.

2B: I certainly see something similar in the work of someone like Frederick Turner, too.
The literary guy? I don't know him, but we are certainly allies. He has deduced independently the need for living structure, and has given examples of forms.

2B: He writes about how the artistic forms that persist over time and across cultures represent a kind of artistic DNA.
These are the kinds of things Alexander and I are saying. When you look at great scientific, political or social revolutions in the past, people start to discover the same things at the same time.

2B: It's in the air.
I would love to say that it's about to break out, but I cannot predict the exact time. But it's certainly in the air. Computer science is leading to a new understanding of complexity at the same time that evolutionary biology is leading to similar and parallel understandings of complexity. And all this is finally shedding some light on various cloudy issues. Let me emphasize the following fact. I have gone into the scientific literature and used results from it to support results that I have published in architecture and urbanism publications. Which I think is very neat. Now, Alexander is one level beyond me, in that his results in architecture are seen by computer scientists themselves as tremendously innovative and visionary.

2B: Right, I read the book about that, Richard Gabriel’s "Patterns of Software" (here).
So here we have Christopher, struggling with "The Nature of Order" and coming up with results that are found innovative and visionary by the computer-science community -- so much so that they invited him to give the keynote speech at a computer-science conference.

2B: I saw a tape of that. He seemed startled to be there.
He called me, and he said, "This was the shock of my life!" He didn't really believe they understood what he was trying to say. And he gave his talk, and there was a standing ovation that wouldn't stop. It was like the days of Toscanini. And then all these extremely intelligent people talked to him, and he thought, "My god, these people understand what I have been doing better than any architect over my entire career!" These people get it and understand it, and are applying it to software.

2B: I often feel ashamed of the arts community. Why don't they catch onto these things more quickly, and more eagerly?
There is a lock-out, and intentional ignorance. People on top keep the practitioners ignorant because they're more easily controlled.


* Nikos Salingaros' website is here.
* Christopher Alexander's "Pattern Language" website is here.
* Alexander's book "A Pattern Language" is here; his "The Timeless Way of Building" is here.
* Alexander's "The Nature of Order," vol. 1, will go on sale shortly here and here.
* Leon Krier's "Architecture: Choice or Fate" can be bought here. You can read a review of the book here. Nikos Salingaros interviews Leon Krier here.
* Lucien Steil's webzine Katarxis is here.
* The Congress for the New Urbanism is here.
* Richard Gabriel's "Patterns of Software" is here.
* Tom Wolfe's "From Bauhaus to Our House" is here.
* Jane Jacobs' "Death and Life of Great American Cities" is here.
* Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck's introduction to the New Urbanism, "Suburban Nation," is here.
* Philip Langdon's intro to the New Urbanism, "A Better Place to Live," is here.
* Langdon and Duany collaborated on this discussion for The American Enterprise here.
* You can sample the work of the busy New Urbanist firm Merrill and Pastor here.

posted by Michael at May 1, 2003


"When I talk to arty friends about this kind of thing, I notice that they tense up especially about two things. One is the idea that there's some objective way of measuring the "life" in a structure. The other is that it's possible to be scientific about beauty."

I don't have any problem with either of those two things. Quite honestly--and not trying to be sarcastic---maybe the problem is with your arty friends. I think you may move in a fairly staid, snotty circle (if what you said above is in fact what they think) and assume these attitudes are widely held. What "scientific" efforts have you made to determine if any but a small circle feel this way?

Posted by: annette on May 2, 2003 6:09 AM

"I was becoming rather successful and well-known, and the last thing I wanted to do was go into architecture."

"I think architecture for the last several decades has attracted people who want power..."

One other query---if he went into mathmatics and found gratification in becoming successful and well-known...isn't that a form of wanting power?

So...the architects are like him? What is he seeking, after all, with his new book---but to simply shift the power into other hands than currently have it, including his own? He'd be more compelling if he would acknowledge that.

I mesn, name me one single profession that some people don't go into for power? This professor says these things like he's being accusatory, or insightful, when in truth he seems to be stating the painfully obvious, and is simply after the same things that the people he's accusing are after. His TASTE is different. Perhaps this new book applies a more rigorous 'test' to determining if something is 'good' or not---but we won't know until we see the book, right? (15 years later, and counting....) And somehow I doubt if it is as empirical as, say, the theory of relativity.

Posted by: annette on May 2, 2003 9:25 AM

Sorry--my last comment for awhile---but I asked a new question on Part I which would be really interesting for me to see an answer to somewhere. Please see Part One comments.

Posted by: annette on May 2, 2003 12:12 PM

Hey Annette, Great to see you stopping by. Heavens, if only I had more staid friends than I do, but I largely move among edgy downtown arty types. I've got nothing but my own experience to call on here, but I've found that (in a general way) the artier and edgier a friend, the less likely he/she is to be able to discuss the arts in a sensible, let alone "scientific," way. My edgy/arty friends are almost fanatically attached to romantic/modernist myths about inspiration, creativity, rebelliousness, the role of the artist, etc, and often get very prickly and touchy if any of that gets questioned. Where my more staid (and non-arty) friends have, by and large, a lot less trouble speaking reasonably about the arts. Do you find your artier friends able to discuss art in scientific terms? I envy you.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 2, 2003 12:50 PM

Hey Annette --

A good one, and I'll be sure to ask Prof. Salingaros for his thoughts, thanks.

As far as I'm concerned, the big distinction is between Group One, specialists who want society to be a big machine that they get to run; and Group Two, specialists for whom society is an open-ended game that they want to take part in. The first group tends to veer (confusingly) back and forth between policing outcomes and arguing against any rules whatsoever. The second group focuses more on the underlying rules and processes that tend to lead to what they believe most people prefer and find livable. Group One: bossy, if swingin', semi-socialists. Group Two: use the energies of the free market to serve people better than they're currently being served.

Excellent point that they're both groups of specialists who think they know better, though. I could be placing my bet wrong, but I'll opt against the ones whose pitch is that they know what's good for me and seem hyper-eager to impose it, and opt for the ones who seem interested in serving my needs and pleasures. I may be gullible and foolish, who knows?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 2, 2003 2:30 PM

Yawn. I'm so over this kind of thing: didn't we all get more of it than we could ever handle when A New Kind of Science was published this time last year? Haven't heard much about that of late: I think it's going the way of the Segway Human Transporter. Anybody who lumps their own book in with Newton's "Principia" and Darwin's "Origin of Species" is obviously off their trolley, and can safely be ignored. When arty types go mad they call themselves a messiah, a second Jesus; when scientists go the same way they start comparing themselves to Newton. I blame Kuhn, and his bloody revolutions: now every other amateur twiddling away at his theorems in the back of a shack somewhere thinks that he will be the person to stand the entire known world on its head, to revolutionise human knowledge. Really, science doesn't work like that. The idea of a scientific revolutions is incredibly romantic, surrounded as it is by tales of Newton and apple trees, or Einstein working in a patent office. But here on planet Earth, science advances incrementally, and is advanced by professionals, in peer-reviewed journals. The greatest scientists of the 20th Century never compared themselves to Newton before they'd even (self-)published their papers. In fact, the self-publishing alone should be reason enough to pause here: how many 1500-page self-published works have ever been worth reading? Why is it that the book is already hedged around with statements along the lines of "you won't understand it" -- an obvious attempt to neutralise any criticism of it in advance? Why does this whole enterprise smell like a grand conspiracy theory, where any evidence that doesn't fit (architects all think he's a fruitcake) just goes to show how good the conspiracy is, while evidence that does fit (oh, look, here's an architect/blogger/heir to the throne who thinks that there's something to it after all) is treated at face value? Most of all, where's the friendliness, the humour, the modesty? Why the stories about how Salingaros approached "the master" and was regally granted an audience? Why nothing light-hearted, no jokes, no self-deprecating asides? No one this certain and this humourless has ever been right. Maybe, before he publishes Volume 1 of his magnum opus, The Master might want to re-read From Bauhaus to Our House: not for insight into architecture, but for insight into how to bring the reader on board. At the moment, reading these Q&As, I feel like I've stumbled across some kind of semireligious cult.

Posted by: Felix on May 2, 2003 5:16 PM

Hey Felix, You may be right, and some humor certainly wouldn't hurt, eh? For the record, though, Alexander's book was long under contract to Oxford University Press, which published most (if not all) of Alexander's previous books. (I'm told, for what it's worth, that he yanked the new book himself.) Also for the record, "A Pattern Language" has been one of the best-selling books of serious architecture ever. Though as you point out many architects spurn it, it's been incredibly popular for three decades with architecture fans, with the general public, with certain kinds of high-end developers, with self-build types, and even with computer programmers. I've met a couple of architects who told me that they themselves didn't really "get" architecture until they read the book, which is only anecdotal evidence, but what the heck.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 2, 2003 5:30 PM

"Patterns of Software" has indeed become an instant classic in Computer Science circles, and is considered a foundational level text in Software Engineering by many.

The pattern metaphor is now seen as the basic unit of abstraction in algorithm design and object oriented software; it has literally revolutionized how software is thought about and discussed. It's application has allowed more effective forms of collaboration to emerge, and has radically advanced the state of the art in Software Engineering.

Even if those building the physical world (architects) don't "get it", those building the virtual world do.

Posted by: David Mercer on May 2, 2003 5:37 PM

No one this certain and this humourless has ever been right.

Oh, come on, Felix. Newton himself was a pretty advanced case of certainty and humorlessness. I don't recall too many knee-slapping anecdotes about Gauss; I seem to recall him declining to debate Kant on the issue of whether there could be additional heavenly bodies on the grounds that the great philosopher was too stupid to merit arguing with. I'm sure Kant got a big laugh out of that one. (Although I'll admit that in Gauss' case the score of children he produced may have indicated he was conserving his vital energies for something more fun than mere humor.)

Anyway, good ideas are where you find them--not only where you've found them in the past.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on May 2, 2003 6:17 PM

Felix wrote: "At the moment, reading these Q&As, I feel like I've stumbled across some kind of semireligious cult."

Cult indeed, and detectable not only in the Q&A here, but in Dr. Salingaros's own responses, and in his writings as well.

For more on this matter, see my squib posted early this morning at:


Posted by: acdouglas on May 2, 2003 6:25 PM

Good to see Felix and ACD chiming in here. Based on what I've read by them here and on their websites, I wouldn't trust any idea having to do with architecture that they didn't roundly condemn. (It's kind of like a compass that always points south - you make some adjustments, but you can still navigate by it...)

Posted by: jimbo on May 2, 2003 7:35 PM

Friedrich, perhaps the professor isn't bringing any humor, but, thanks for yours.

Michael---I agree---it's always better if benign benefactors fill the power void. I just don't hear the professor ackowledging that that is what he wants to do. He could stand to climb down off the pedestal, and stop saying 'I don't really need this, I'm an important mathmetician, I'm just talking about architecture as a service to humanity coz I'm such a noble person...' and just admit that he hates who's running the show and would rather run it himself. Nothing so wrong with that---but it's wrong that he doesn't admit it.

Posted by: annette on May 2, 2003 9:24 PM

ACD, as one who has lived with an architecture student (girlfriend), has other friends who are architects, and a brother who just finished an architecture Masters this week, your comment "which supposed cult he labels "modernist" (by which term he seems to mean architectural thinking and design in the 20th century and later)" reveals how unfamiliar with the field you are.

The Modernists are SELF-LABELED, and are quite horrific, easily being on the level of a professional Cult. The Architecture school here in Tucson at the University of Arizona has been firmly in thrall to them for quite a few years, and it's quite difficult to go against the grain of Modernist thought in the field.

You either worship at the altar of Modernist derived orthodoxy, or resign yourself to small projects only for your career.

Have you read any Corbusier? He has dedicated at least one of his works "To Authority".
Ever seen any souless, horrible boxes of glass?
Or even worse, the aweful concrete boxes of Eastern Europe? That's Modernism.

Nikos and Alexander ARE fighting against a cult, and yes sometimes this makes it's oppenents seem a bit extreme. But please don't spout off on a topic you obviously have no familiarity with, as your slinging mud at the wrong target in this case.



Posted by: David Mercer on May 3, 2003 4:08 AM

Ah, the dueling cults dispute ...

Well, Felix and ACD are supporters of the orthodox academic/journalistic architectural thing. Which is fine, and which wouldn't annoy me a bit if they presented it as a matter of taste preference: "Hey, I really like this modernist/po-mo/decon stuff." In fact, I'd be very curious to learn what they see in it and get from it -- they're brainy, articulate guys with good descriptive and analytic writing skills, and I've enjoyed their discussions of the WTC proposals, however much I've disagreed with their tastes and conclusions.

What does grate a bit is the tack they take instead: "This is Architecture and that isn't!" The insults and name-calling don't exactly endear either. Is it out of line for me to suggest that they're reacting exactly like people do who feel that their religion has been dissed? Which, to my mind, hints that they're the cult adherents, and that modernist/po-mo/decon orthodoxy really is -- just as the Blowhards have argued in our scatterbrained way, and as Prof. Salingaros is arguing much more cogently here -- something like a church. But perhaps this is gratuitous.

Still, let me offer up a comparison. ACD writes in his comment here that he finds the Alexander/Salingaros take on things to be cultish, and points us to his own posting on the topic. OK, a little compare-and-contrast. First, a visit with ACD. Let's take note of ACD's language:

...tendentious, self-serving... first-water zealot...pernicious and virulent...his own new religion...impressive-sounding, esoteric, academic gibberish shot through with generalizations, half-truths, unsupported (and largely insupportable) allegations, elided references, and cleverly constructed misdirection ...his evangelical crusade, and of the dogma of his new cult ...painfully tortuous and invidious verbiage ...

Phew -- and that ain't the half of it. ("Pimping"? Good one, ACD.) I don't know about you, but I have a hard time reconciling ACD's language with his implicit claim that he's the reasonable one here. Um, to say the least: his words seem to me to be dripping with irrational fury. Castigations, imprecations -- hey, son of a gun, that's the language of the offended religious nut! I'll resignedly point out, feeling slightly wounded, another anomoly -- that ACD, despite his habit of presenting himself as the ultimate arbiter of all things civilized, never shows the grace to express even the smallest appreciation for the way 2Blowhards occasionally stimulates a little conversation on architecture topics. No, he just seems to want to stamp it out. Tres civilized.

For contrast, here's a passage from one of Prof. Salingaros' essays, which you can read in its entirety here. The essay is called "Architecture, Patterns and Mathematics," and in it Salingaros is talking about the relationship between building and math, and what became of this relationship with the advent of Modernism:

What about city planning? Didn't Modernism straighten out curved streets, and order unevenly-distributed buildings into neat rows of repeated identical forms? Yes, but by imposing a simplistic geometry on city form, post-war planning drastically reduces the rich mathematical complexity of the urban environment [16,17]. That is perhaps analogous to reducing the Spinor group in n dimensions into the trivial Abelian group Z2. With hierarchy reversal, the monotonous patterns defined by modernist buildings and streets are visible only from an airplane. Urbanists of the early twentieth century didn't understand complex systems, so they were eager to simplify human interactions as much as possible. They removed the essential patterns (not only the spatial ones, but more importantly, the dynamical ones) present in the great historical cities, to create empty suburbia and monstrous office buildings.

Architects complain that new buildings are bad because they are cheap and tacky; implying that they could be improved by a more generous budget. One hears that: "the reason beautiful buildings cannot be built today is because of the high cost of materials and workmanship". This statement is belied by the wonderful variety of folk architecture built the world over using inexpensive local materials.

AC complains in his posting that Salingaros' essays are short on substantiation and examples. Yet in the first five or six pages of this particular essay (which I pulled up at random), I find references to Mies' German Pavilion, the Hagia Sofia, and Hoffmann's Stoclet House; informative bits of information about how ancient architects were often mathematicians too; quotes from Loos and Le Corbusier; and an engrossing discussion of the meaning of patterns in math, building and life more generally.

Look at Salingaros' language. Follow his thinking. Run your fingers through his knowledge to test its depth. Hmmm. Seems informed, provocative, reasonable, and open-minded to me. (It seems considerably more than that, too, but I'll let that pass.)

ACD argues -- to my mind, in a wild-eyed, offended-fanatic sort of way -- that he, ACD, is the "objectively" reasonable guy here, and that Salingaros is the wild-eyed nutcase. But, gosh, judging from the above passages and examples, ya gotta wonder: who's the real intemperate, wild-eyed hothead? And who's the searching, knowledgeable and open-minded person?

Now, I could be wrong. My instincts and brain, such as they are, may well be leading me totally astray. They have certainly done so before, and readers will reach their own conclusions here. But for the moment I'm quite content with the working assumption that ACD is the crazed defender of the One True Faith, and that Salingaros is a brainy, reasonable man trying in an open-minded way to make sense of an interesting, if often bewildering, field. Which is why we Blowhards are such fans, and are so pleased to present this q&a.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 3, 2003 12:50 PM

David wrote: "But please don't spout off on a topic you obviously have no familiarity with, as your slinging mud at the wrong target in this case."

I suggest you take your own advice to heart, David. Keep you out of trouble. Know whadamean?

Here's a freebie for you, just to show what a nice guy I really am.

Modernism is the label for a fairly specific period in world architecture; that period which had its beginnings around the turn of the 20th century with the work of Behrens and Gropius in Germany, and Sullivan in the U.S., and which period reached its zenith in the works of the Europeans Mies and Corbu, and the American, Wright. IOW, a period ranging roughly from 1900 to 1960. Loosely slinging the labels "modernist" and "modernism" around in casual conversation to mean all post-fin-de-siècle architecture is one thing. Using them in that way with critical intent in a professional or scholarly paper is something else altogether, and not to be countenanced.

See how that works?


Posted by: acdouglas on May 3, 2003 6:45 PM

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