Who Says What Architecture Is?

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9780976007944: Who Says What Architecture Is?

A collection of SCI-Arc Director and architect Eric Owen Moss' introductions, essays and lectures. Moss draws from a wide range of literary, philosophical and historic sources to discuss the work of architects and theorists from all over the world who have lectured at SCI-Arc, as well as central themes such as 9/11 and the urban development of Los Angeles.

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About the Author:

Eric Owen Moss holds Masters Degrees in Architecture from both Harvard University and the University of California at Berkeley.

Eric Owen Moss Architects was founded in 1973. The office, located in Los Angeles, California, is currently staffed with twenty-five professionals designing and constructing projects in the United States and around the world.

The firm has garnered over eighty design awards from Progressive Architecture magazine and the American Institute of Architects. In 1999, Moss won the Academy Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2001, the firm won the AIA/LA Gold Medal for Design; and in 2003, Moss won the Gold Medal Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of California at Berkeley. Moss was the 2007 Arnold Brunner Memorial Prize recipient from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for "a significant contribution to architecture as an art.

There are ten published monographs on the EOMA office, including three by Rizzoli and one, Gnostic Architecture, by Montacelli Press. Most recent are Eric Owen Moss - The Uncertainty of Doing, published by Skira in 2006, Eric Owen Moss - Provisional Paradigms published by Marsilio in 2007, and Eric Owen Moss - Construction Manual, launched in December 2009.

Moss continues to build, teach, lecture and exhibit. In 2002, his firm won two competitions in St. Petersburg, Russia, one for the New Mariinsky Theatre, the second for the redevelopment of New Holland. In 2003, Eric Owen Moss Architects won the international competition for the Queens Museum of Art in New York. In 2006, the Moss office won the City of the Future competition - LA, NY, Chicago - sponsored by the History Channel. EOMA has been featured regularly at the Venice Biennale, with exhibits that have included the controversial proposal for the New Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, at the Russian Pavilion in 2002, and the international competition entries for the National Library in Mexico City and the Smithsonian Institute, in 2004. In 2006, the firm exhibited the Los Angeles/Culver City project in the Cities, Architecture, and Society section of the Biennale.

Eric Owen Moss first taught at SCI-Arc in 1974, and was appointed director in 2002. He has held chairs at Yale and Harvard universities, and appointments at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen.


Philip Johnson referred to Los Angeles-based architect Eric Owen Moss as a 'jeweler of joinery.' In Moss's latest book, his flair for connecting gems is apparent. He draws upon philosophers such as Wittgenstein, Kant, Nietzsche, and Kierkegaard; writers like Tolstoy, Kafka, and Ovid; and psychologist Carl Jung to weave together a clutch of essays. The majority are from Moss's introductions of visiting lecturers at SCI-Arc, where he serves as director.

Moss's articles are heavily weighted to the architecture of Los Angeles and the philosophy of SCI-Arc, but he sets the stage for a broader application: 'The real strength here is in the prospect of idiosyncrasy [Los Angeles] has to offer its own future, and as an alternative model to the world,' he writes.

Moss interlaces philosophy and psychology, history and sociology to explore the inquiry posed by the title. He suggests that as a discipline becomes a subject that is taught and learned, rather than explored and questioned, 'it becomes: less impulsive, more method; less instinct, more system; less overrule the rule, more ruled; and in the end, a doctrine.' Perhaps it is the many questions raised that make this concertina-bound book an intriguing read, although the question posted in the title remains unanswered. - Rebecca Ward --Architectural Record, August 2008

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