7: Conflicting Values S/S 1999


Readers sometimes ask: “How do you select the themes for the magazine?” A straightforward question with a complicated answer: the choice can be based upon the sense that a topic is timely, or neglected, or one of those perennially vexing issues requiring periodic discussion. The current theme, “conflicting values,” is the result of a more unusual process. It was selected, in a real sense, by our writers, for we began with a subtly different agenda: our earlier idea was not to explore how buildings embody value but rather to dissect the process of evaluation. How do we judge architecture, landscapes, cities? What criteria for judgment are implicit in the work of critics, historians, and essayists? What are the responsibilities of criticism? Given the broad acceptance of cultural relativism, can we agree on any normative standards by which to judge (or design) architecture and landscapes?

As this issue evolved, however, we found that few writers were eager to train their critical energies upon evaluative processes—to judge their own judgments, or those of others. But what they were eager to explore—or how they chose to interpret our questions—has illuminated a set of issues of equal power. How do buildings and places embody and preserve meaning and value? Who is qualified to judge design? What is the value of architecture in the larger culture?

— Nancy Levinson (excerpted from the introduction)

Table of Contents


American Ruins

Camilo José Vergara

Beyond the Valley of Silicon Architecture

Mitchell Schwarzer

Eyesore or Art?

John Beardsley

Film+Arc: Graz 2 + 3 Internationale Biennale Film und Architektur

Edward Dimendberg

From Taste to Judgment: Multiple Criteria in the Evaluation of Architecture

William S. Saunders

History Matters

Alice T. Friedman

Inhale…The Future Has Already Begun

Ron Witte

Less for Less Yet

Michael Benedikt

Linear Landscapes

Ken Smith

Most Architecture Should Be Modest

Roger Scruton

Questions of Value

Kenneth Frampton

Toward an Architecture of Humility

Juhani Pallasmaa

When Design Is Against the Law

Brenda Case Scheer

Why Are Some Buildings More Interesting than Others?

Kurt W. Forster

With the Best Intentions

Denise Scott Brown


Capital Dilemma by Michael Z. Wise

Jan Otakar Fischer

Cinema & Architecture edited by François Penz and Maureen Thomas

Edward Dimendberg

Divided Highways by Tom Lewis

Kenneth T. Jackson

Erich Mendelsohn and the Architecture of German Modernism by Kathleen James

Alona Nitzan-Shiftan

Film Architecture edited by Dietrich Neumann

Edward Dimendberg

Representation of Places by Peter Bosselmann

Graham Larkin

The Ghosts of Berlin by Brian Ladd, Capital Dilemma: Germany’s Search for a New Architecture of Democracy by Michael Z. Wise

Jan Otakar Fischer

The Werkbund by Frederic J. Schwartz

Andrew Herscher