More on John Silber’s ‘Absurd’ity


A little more on John Silber‘s much talked about new book Architecture of the Absurd, which you might recall us talking about the other day. This time, its a review from The Wall Street Journal (so you know it’s a legit opinion or something). Overall, Francis Morrone, the reviewer, gives Silber an incredibly favorable thumbs up, citing example after example taken from the book of starchitectural ego running amok, with those who commissioned the work helpless to fight back against the crazy. The review also makes us happy because we learn how much Silber holds up van der Rohe as the kind of architect who really knew what he was doing and didn’t have to get all zany to get his name circulating out there. He’s not so nice to Wright, however. Here’s a bit:

Mr. Silber’s polemic, it should be said, is not an attack on architectural modernism. He greatly admires Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building in New York, for instance, an austerely elegant Bauhaus tower of bronze and glass. And he loves Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, in rural Pennsylvania, even though he sees that its disastrous structural flaws — the seeming wish of its cantilevers, dramatically suspended over a waterfall, to fall down — resulted from the colossal ego of an architect who dismissed the advice of engineering consultants hired by the client, Edgar Kaufmann. Wright may have designed beautiful buildings, but he also helped to beget the cult of Genius in architecture, which, Mr. Silber believes, led inevitably to the triumph of the absurd.