We began Perspecta 11 in 1965 by asking: Where are we now in architecture? What constitutes the present for us? In terms of history the answer is clear enough. At the beginning of the twentieth century the first generation of modern architects shared the belief that a new epoch was beginning and that in response a radically new architecture must be shaped. Both the vitality and the excesses of the period that ended with the Depression can be understood in terms of awareness. After World War II, the continuing process of vast and rapid change came to be seen, usually, as the disintegration of Western civilization, chaos, the death of humanistic values, etc. Accordingly, the second generation of modern architects sough stability in the images of the environment. They instituted a program of refinement and of rediscovery of history. The leaders of this second generation are now, in their middle years, primarily concerned with the elaboration of personal idioms rather than with innovation. A third generation of modern architects has developed its ideas in the sixties and is now seeing them realized. In their new ironic and sometimes revolutionary output these men question the direction of this historical pattern.
Children rebelling against their fathers often find themselves close in spirit to their grandfathers; perhaps this explains the present growing interest in the architectural ideas of 1914 as well as those of 1948. The situation has not changed so much in fifteen years; rather the way it is seen is different. There is now a feeling of great potentiality. This is not simply optimism; it is an awareness of what is dying and what is beginning, of possibility and of risk.
At first we expected that our editorial task would be simply to find people who were doing new work. In this way, a dynamic idea of the present might evolve. We found that most of the people we saw while developing this issue were engaged in a process of reappraisal and spoke more in terms of where we are going than of where we are. We became interested less in buildings in which the third generation is now developing its ideas, and more in the ideas themselves, their limits and the directions implied in them.
One of the most pervasive of these is the evolving idea of a new relationship between art and society: the conviction that art is coming to play a more diffused and direct role in the environment and that the artist as hero is becoming less important. There is a new concern with the whole synthetic and natural environment in terms of the interconnected processes that shape it and result from it. Another important direction is toward inclusive, both/and ways of thinking rather than categorical, either/or ways of thinking. Younger people, bound to the first generation of modern architects by a sense of potential and to the second by a sense of crisis, are separated from both by this feeling for complexity.
These themes are developed in several ways in Perspecta 11. Some of the articles were chosen to define issues, others as responses to a new understanding of the present.
Robert Theobald—An Interview
Peter Millard—"Now and Then"
Charles W. Moore—"Plug It in, Rameses, and See if It Lights up"
The Editors—Portfolio 4:Sculptors
Shadrach Woods and Roger Vailland—Conversation on Urbanism
R. Buckminster Fuller—"Vision ‘65 Summary Lecture"
Sheldon Nodelman—"Sixties Art: Some Philosophical Perspectives"
James Stirling—Conversation with Students
Matt Sharp—Portfolio: Complex Form
Robert Venturi—"3 Projects"
Stan Vanderbeek—"Re: Vision"
John McHale—"World Dwelling"
Paul Davidoff—"Democratic Planning"
Marshall McLuhan—"The Invisible Environment: The Future of an Erosion"