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Peter Eisenman (born August 11, 1932 in Newarkmarker, New Jerseymarker) is an American architect. Eisenman's fragmented forms are identified with an eclectic group of architects that have been labeled as deconstructivists. Although Eisenman shuns the label, he has had a history of controversy aimed at keeping him in the public (academic) eye.

Eisenman's theories on architecture pursue the emancipation and autonomy of the discipline and his work represents a continued attempt to liberate form from all meaning, a struggle that most find difficult to accept. He always had strong cultural relationships with European intellectuals like his English mentor Colin Rowe and the Italian historian Manfredo Tafuri. The work of philosopher Jacques Derrida is a key influence in Eisenman's architecture. He is often seen in a bowtie and a black sweater with a small hole.

As a child Eisenman attended Columbia High Schoolmarker located in Maplewood, New Jerseymarker. He discovered architecture as an undergraduate at Cornell Universitymarker and gave up his position on the swimming team in order to immerse himself in the architecture program there. Eisenman 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 M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Cambridgemarker. He received an honorary degree from Syracuse Universitymarker School of Architecture in 2007. Eisenman currently teaches theory seminars and advanced design studios at the Yale School of Architecturemarker.

Eisenman is the second cousin of the architect, and fellow member of The New York Five, Richard Meier.


Eisenman first rose to prominence as a member of the New York Five (also known as the Five Whites), five architects (Eisenman, Charles Gwathmey, John Hejduk, Richard Meier, and Michael Graves) some of whose work appeared in an exhibition at MoMAmarker in 1967. Eisenman received a number of grants from the Graham Foundation for work done in this period. These architects' work at the time was often considered a reworking of the ideas of Le Corbusier. Subsequently, the five architects each developed unique styles and ideologies, with Eisenman becoming more affiliated with the Deconstructivist movement.

Eisenman's focus on "liberating" architectural form was notable from an academic and theoretical standpoint but resulted in structures that were both badly built and hostile to users. The Wexner Centermarker, hotly anticipated as the first major public deconstructivist building, has required extensive and expensive retrofitting because of elementary 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 the words of Andrew Ballantyne, "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 1970's, confounds expectations of structure and function. Suzanne Frank was initially sympathetic and patient with Eisenman's theories and demands. But after years of fixes to the badly-specified and misbegotten House VI (which had first broken the Franks' budget then consumed their life savings), Suzanne Frank was prompted to strike back with Peter Eisenman's House VI: The Client's Response, in which she admitted both the problems of the building, as much as its virtues.

Eisenman has also embarked on a larger series of building projects in his career, including the recently completed Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europemarker in Berlinmarker and the new University of Phoenix Stadiummarker in Glendale, Arizonamarker. His largest project to date is the soon-to-be completed City of Culture of Galicia in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Eisenman is featured in the 2008 film Peter Eisenman: University of Phoenix Stadium for the Arizona Cardinals where he provides a tour of his recent construction. The premiere of this short, 30 minute, film will be screened at the Center for Architecture on Thursday, February 12 at 6:30pm. For more information:[41368]. Eisenman will be present at the Center to engage in conversation and answer questions following the premiere.

Buildings and works

See also


  • Peter Eisenman, Houses of Cards. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.
  • Peter Eisenman, Diagram Diaries (Universe Architecture Series), Thames and Hudson, 1999.
  • Blurred Zones: Investigations of the Interstitial : Eisenman Architects 1988-1998
  • Peter Eisenman, Giuseppe Terragni: Transformations, Decompositions, Critiques, New York, The Monacelli Press 2003
  • Peter Eisenman, Eisenman Inside Out. Selected Writings 1963-1988, New Haven-London, Yale University Press 2004


  • Kari Jormakka, Interview with Peter Eisenman, Datutop 14, 1991.
  • Interview: Peter Eisenman, Threshold, Rizzoli, 1983.
  • What Is Architecture?, Andrew Ballantyne, Routledge, 2002.

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