Herbert Muschamp
The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1974, English
Nonfiction, Architecture
ISBN: 9780262630672

On the back cover of this (out-of-print) book, Muschamp states: “I am an architect who has neither designed nor built any buildings nor has the inclination to do so. I call myself an architect purely out of the comic conceit which is all that remains of the Western architectural tradition. Buildings have such short lifespans nowadays, and few bother to look at them, anyway. Planning schemes must be revised each year, and still can’t keep up. Last winter’s cosmic-comical conceptual designs are forgotten with the appearance of the new spring line. Books last longer,take up less space, are easier to take care of, make better gifts than do most buildings. In the last analysis, architecture is not a very highly evolved state of mind. This is neither sour-grapes bitterness nor casual frivolity. It is the opening of a passionate, informed, witty, and intensely serious critique of the idea of architecture and an exposure of architectural pretense in all ages, but especially in the modern age—the years following the Industrial Revolution, which have been characterized by visual and ideological chaos and a wholesale dipping into the aesthetic and conceptual capital accumulated by ages past.”

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Véronique Vienne
Herbert Muschamp, who eventually became the architecture critic for the New York Times between 1992 and 2004, was only 27 years old when he wrote this quirky manifesto. Printed on craft paper and bundled like a small parcel between two corrugated cardboard covers, it weighs only nine ounces, no heavier than a couple of twigs. . . . The layout is so unassuming and legible it soothes your eyeballs—which is a good thing, considering the audacious, contentious, and insolent nature of Mr. Muschamp’s prose. . . . View the complete text
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