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Peter Eisenman

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Peter Eisenman
Eisenman at GSAPP
Born (1932-08-11) August 11, 1932 (age 91)
Alma materCornell University
Columbia University
University of Cambridge
BuildingsHouse VI
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
City of Culture of Galicia

Peter David Eisenman (born August 11, 1932) is an American architect, writer, and professor. Considered one of the New York Five, Eisenman is known for his high modernist and deconstructive designs, as well as for his authorship of several architectural books. His work has won him several awards, including the Wolf Prize in Arts.[1]


Early life

Peter Eisenman was born to Jewish parents on August 11, 1932, in Newark, New Jersey.[2][3] As a child, he attended Columbia High School located in Maplewood, New Jersey. He transferred into the architecture school as an undergraduate at Cornell University and gave up his position on the swimming team in order to commit full-time to his studies. He received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cornell, a Master of Architecture degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and MA and PhD degrees from the University of Cambridge. He received an honorary degree from Syracuse University School of Architecture in 2007.[citation needed]


He first rose to prominence as a member of the New York Five (also known as "the Whites"), along with fellow architects Charles Gwathmey, John Hejduk, Richard Meier, and Michael Graves. Some of their work was presented at a CASE Studies conference in 1969, catapulting their respective careers. Eisenman received a number of grants from the Graham Foundation for work done in this period[when?]. The New York Five began their careers by iterating on Le Corbusier's distinctive style, but they all subsequently developed unique styles and ideologies, with Eisenman becoming more affiliated with Deconstructivism.

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe at the site of the gardens of the former Reich Chancellery in Berlin.

Eisenman currently teaches theory seminars and advanced design studios at the Yale School of Architecture, and is Professor Emeritus at the Cooper Union School of Architecture.[4][5] Previously, he taught at the University of Cambridge, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University School of Architecture, and the Ohio State University. He founded the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in 1967 and served as its Executive Director until 1981.[citation needed]

Another view of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

His professional work is often referred to as formalist, deconstructive, late avant-garde, late and high modernist.[citation needed] The fragmenting of forms visible in some of his projects has been identified as characteristic of deconstructivism, and he has become one of the movement's flagbearer. In 1988, he was featured in the "Deconstructivists" exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.[6]

While well known for his single-family residences, particularly his "House" series, he has also worked on several large-scale non-residential projects as well. Some examples include the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin[7] and the new University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. His largest project to date is the City of Culture of Galicia in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. In his practice, Eisenman was an early advocate of computer-aided design, employing fledgling innovators such as Greg Lynn and Ingeborg Rocker as early as 1989.[citation needed]

His writings have pursued topics including comparative formal analyses; the emancipation and autonomization of architecture; and histories of Architects. Architects he has written about include Giuseppe Terragni, Andrea Palladio, Le Corbusier and James Stirling. Additionally, he is featured in wide print and many films, including the 2008 film Peter Eisenman: University of Phoenix Stadium for the Arizona Cardinals in which he provides a tour of his recent construction.[citation needed]

Eisenman has won several awards, including the National Design Award for Architecture in 2001, and the Wolf Prize in Arts in 2010.[8][1]


Several criticisms have been waged against Eisenman over his designs, style, and perspective on the field of architecture. In 1972, Colin Rowe wrote that he pursued a physique form of European modernism rather than utopian social agendas.[9] And, more recently, accusations have been made that Eisenman's work is "post-humanist". His apathy towards the recent "green" movement, too has been considered polarizing or "out-of-touch". Despite these claims of polarity and divisiveness, Eisenman has famously pursued dialogues with important cultural figures internationally. These include his English mentor Colin Rowe, the Italian historian Manfredo Tafuri, George Baird, Fredric Jameson, Laurie Olin, Rosalind Krauss and Jacques Derrida.[10]

Another point of criticism over his work has been the state of some of his deconstructivist buildings. The Wexner Center, the first major public deconstructivist building, has required extensive and expensive retrofitting due to major design flaws, such as incompetent material specifications, and fine art exhibition space exposed to direct sunlight. It was frequently repeated that the Wexner's colliding planes tended to make its users disoriented to the point of physical nausea; in 1997 researcher Michael Pollan tracked the source of this rumor back to Eisenman himself. In architectural historian Andrew Ballantyne's opinion, "By some scale of values, he was actually enhancing the reputation of his building by letting it be known that it was hostile to humanity." Eisenman's House VI, designed for clients Richard and Suzanne Frank in the mid-1970s, also required several costly fixes resulting in the couple turning against Eisenman.

Buildings and works

USGS satellite image of the Greater Columbus Convention Center


  • Peter Eisenman, Houses of Cards. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. ISBN 0-19-505130-0
  • Peter Eisenman, Diagram Diaries (Universe Architecture Series), Thames and Hudson, 1999. ISBN 0-7893-0264-0
  • Blurred Zones: Investigations of the Interstitial : Eisenman Architects 1988-1998
  • Peter Eisenman, Giuseppe Terragni: Transformations, Decompositions, Critiques, New York, The Monacelli Press 2003 ISBN 1-885254-96-2
  • Peter Eisenman, Eisenman Inside Out. Selected Writings 1963-1988, New Haven-London, Yale University Press 2004 ISBN 0-300-09008-0
  • Peter Eisenman, Ten Canonical Buildings 1950-2000, New York, Rizzoli International Publications inc. 2008 ISBN 0-8478-3048-9
  • Peter Eisenman et al., Peter Eisenman: In dialogue with architects and philosopher (Vladan Djokić and Petar Bojanić (eds.)), Mimesis International. 2017, ISBN 9788869771132
  • Peter Eisenman, Memory Games, Rizzoli. 1996 ISBN 978-0847818518
  • Peter Eisenman and Elisa Iturbe, lateness 2020, Princeton University Press.[11] ISBN 9780691147222


  1. ^ a b "Awards — EISENMAN ARCHITECTS". eisenmanarchitects.com. Archived from the original on 2023-07-04. Retrieved 2023-07-04.
  2. ^ Eran Neuman, Longing for the Impossible, Haaretz, 12 May 2010 Archived 31 May 2017 at the Wayback Machine. Quote:""I didn't know I was Jewish until I encountered anti-Semitism at the age of 10..." Even though he grew up in a non-Zionist and assimilated family where his father held radical leftist views...."
  3. ^ Peter Eisenman Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine, Great Buildings Online. Accessed September 19, 2008.
  4. ^ "Peter Eisenman Faculty Profile". Yale School of Architecture. Archived from the original on 2013-08-21.
  5. ^ "Faculty Profile Peter Eisenman". Cooper Union School of Architecture. Archived from the original on 2009-08-12.
  6. ^ "Deconstructivist Architecture" (PDF). Museum of Modern Art. 1988. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2023-07-04. Retrieved 2023-07-04.
  7. ^ Meomorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe: A memorial in the centre. Archived 2023-10-03 at the Wayback Machine In: Sites of Unity Archived 2023-09-17 at the Wayback Machine (Haus der Geschichte), 2022.
  8. ^ "Profile of Peter Eisenman". Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Archived from the original on 2006-10-05. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  9. ^ "Five Architects," (New York: Wittenborn, 1972)
  10. ^ Derrida's Garden Archived 2011-07-06 at the Wayback Machine by Eleanor Morgan in Fillip
  11. ^ Eisenman, Peter; Iturbe, Elisa (7 July 2020). Lateness. Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691147222. Archived from the original on 31 October 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020.


External links