A Question of Qualities

A Question of Qualities is a collection of eleven articles and short essays from American critic Jeffrey Kipnis (1951) on some of the most renowned architects today. The texts, written between 1990 and 2008, but not presented chronologically, address -and overflow- key aspects of current architecture.

For many people, the name of Jeffrey Kipnis remains associated with Peter Eisenman and Jacques Derrida, alongside whom participated in their legendary project for the Parc de la Villette Competition in Paris. In fact, he was the co-editor, with Thomas Leeser, of Chora L Works, the book that documents the relationship of intellectual exchange between Eisenman and Derrida. In a way, poststructuralist interpretation of architecture cultivated by Eisenman and Derrida remains alive in the writings of Kipnis.

For Kipnis, the conception of architecture clearly outperforms the disciplinary field. His criticism does not despise any approximation. He describes it like that:

“Broadly speaking and independent of aesthetic issues, architectural history has developed three distinct approaches to consider the ways in which architecture can say something about the world: intellectual, social, and phenomenological. An intellectual approach conceives of the building as an object of formal contemplation that communicates through conscious understanding and interpretation (…) The social approach focuses on how a building communicates through its institutional role (…) The phenomenological approach sees the building as a knot of blended perceptions that communicate simultaneously through sensation, intuition, and comprehension to produce a place in the world.”

[…]

David H. Falagan

A Question of Qualities: Essays in Architecture

Jeffrey Kipnis

MIT Press, 2013

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