Léon Krier
Preface by Robert A. M. Stern
The Monacelli Press, New York, 2013, English
Nonfiction, Architecture
7.3 x 9.5 inches, hardcover, 272 pages
ISBN: 9781580933544
Suggested Retail Price: $75.00

From the Publisher. Architect Léon Krier asks, “Can a war criminal be a great artist?” Speer, Adolf Hitler’s architect of choice, happens to be responsible for one of the boldest architectural and urban oeuvres of modern times.

First published in 1985 to an acute and critical reception, Albert Speer: Architecture 1932-1942 is a lucid, wide-ranging study of an important neoclassical architect. Yet is is simultaneously much more: a philosophical rumination on art and politics, good and evil. With aid from a new introduction by influential American architect Robert A. M. Stern, Krier candidly confronts the great difficulty of disentangling the architecture and urbanism of Albert Speer from its political intentions.

Krier bases his study on interviews with Speer just before his death. The projects presented center on his plan for Berlin, an unprecedented modernization of the city intended to be the capital of Europe.

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Witold Rybczynski

The design legacy of the Nazi regime is considerable. The Kraft durch Freude-Wagen (Strength through Joy Car), named by Hitler himself and better known as the Beetle, for example, became the favorite transport of the psychedelic generation in the 1960s, and its designer, Ferdinand Porsche, the darling of boy racers everywhere. The V-2 rocket—and its designer, Werner von Braun—was eagerly taken up by the American space program. But while Nazi cars and rockets are admired, not so Nazi architecture. Yet, as Léon Krier convincingly demonstrates in this lavishly illustrated book (originally published in 1985, but here with a new preface and an introduction by Robert A. M. Stern), there is much to admire. The New Chancellery of the Reich, for example, as well as the Zeppelinfield, stand comparison with the best work of Edwin Lutyens and Paul Philippe Cret. Speer’s intended makeover of central Berlin recalls L’Enfant. “Can a war criminal be a great artist?” asks Krier. Evidently, yes.

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