Peter Eisenman, Designer of the Berlin Holocaust Memorial

b. 1932

American architect Peter Eisenman in 2005, Berlin, Germany
American architect Peter Eisenman in 2005, Berlin, Germany. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

In awarding the Topaz Medallion to Peter Eisenman, the AIA described the architect as an "iconoclastic educator who's done the most to bring rigorous architectural theory back to the forefront of academia since the early 20th-century Modernist reformation." Yet he is no "paper architect." He transforms theory into practice with his architecture.

Background:

Born: August 11, 1932 in Newark, New Jersey

Education:

  • 1955: Bachelor of Architecture Degree from Cornell
  • 1959: Master of Architecture Degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
  • 1960-1963: M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Cambridge in England

Teaching:

Peter Eisenman is the Charles Gwathmey Professor in Practice at Yale University, offering studio courses and courses in design, visual analysis, and architecture theory. Eisenman has also taught at Cambridge University, Harvard University, Princeton University, Ohio State University, and The Cooper Union.

Important Buildings and Projects:

  • 1989: Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio (with Richard Trott)
  • 1993: Greater Columbus Convention Center, Columbus, Ohio
  • 1996: Aronoff Center for Design and Art, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • 1999-present: City of Culture of Galicia, Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain

Related People:

Peter Eisenman headed an informal group of five New York architects who wanted to establish a rigorous theory of architecture independent of context.

Called the New York Five, they were featured in a controversial 1967 exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art and in a later book titled Five Architects. In addition to Peter Eisenman, the New York Five included:

Eisenman has taught classes on the East and West Coasts of the US and places around the world, likely influencing a number of today's architects. His past students include:

More About Peter Eisenman:

Until recently, Peter Eisenman was known mainly as a teacher and a theorist. His first major public building was Ohio's Wexner Center for the Arts, designed with architect Richard Trott. Made up of complex grids and a collision of textures, the Wexler Center is a hallmark of Deconstructivist design.

Since then, Eisenman has stirred controversy with buildings that appear disconnected from surrounding structures and historical context. Often called a Deconstructionist and a Postmodern theorist, Eisenman's writings and designs represent an effort to liberate form from meaning. Yet, while avoiding external references, Peter Eisenman's buildings may be called Structuralist in that they search for relationships within the building elements.

Awards:

  • 2015: Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education, AIA and Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA)
  • 2013: AIA Educators Award, New York State
  • 2004: Biennale Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, Venice Architectre Biennale
  • 2001: Medal of Honor, AIA New York
  • 2001: Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for Architecture, Smithsonian Institute
  • 1976: Rome Prize Fellow

Written by Peter Eisenman:

  • The Formal Basis of Modern Architecture: 1963 Dissertation
    Buy on Amazon
  • Five Architects: Eisenman, Graves, Gwathmey, Hejduk, Meier, Oxford University Press, 1975
    Buy on Amazon
  • Eisenman Inside Out: Selected Writings: 1963-1988
    Buy on Amazon
  • Written into the Void: Selected Writings 1990-2004
    Buy on Amazon
  • House X, Rizzoli, 1983
    Buy on Amazon
  • Ten Canonical Buildings: 1950-2000, Rizzoli, 2008
    Buy on Amazon

    Source: 2015 Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education, American Institute of Architects [accessed April 12, 2015]