Page D4.1 . 24 January 2001                     
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    Aronoff Addition - A Field Guide to Meta-Narratives

    by Brenda Case Scheer, AIA

    I am often asked how I like the new Aronoff addition to the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, designed by Peter Eisenman. After all, I work there every day and I am an architect.

    Well, that's easy: I like it. It's airy and spacious, visually engaging, and reasonably functional. But, most important, it is entertaining to talk about.

    One of my colleagues quipped, "Everywhere you look, the building asks a question." The building may be busy asking questions, but visitors usually have only one: "Huh?"

    The building is so visually complicated (and expensive) you figure there must be a good explanation for it. Mr. Eisenman has cleverly avoided providing us with an answer, variously proclaiming his interest in "Lightness," "Tracings," "Otherness," and even "the Body."

    With such an insistent question and no clear answer, architecture critics and famous architects have been left to debate the issue, which leads to magazine and newspaper articles, and (hello!) fame.

    As the coy Eisenman stands by, trendy visitors from both coasts ("Men in Black Shirts," we call them here in Ohio) parade through with cameras, inexorably enticed to play this entertaining game.

    Unfortunately, despite trying really hard, no one has come up with a genuinely useful theory, i.e. one that actually explains what is going on.

    The Post-Structural, Deconstructed, Alternative Readings are all very well for intellectual players, but I have a real dilemma on my hands: What am I going to tell prospective students, visitors, and other normal folk?



    ArchWeek Photo

    The main entry to the Aronoff Center for Design and Art at the University of Cincinnati, by Peter Eisenman.
    Photo: Jeff Goldberg/Esto

    ArchWeek Photo

    The Aronoff Center's atrium/cafeteria.
    Photo: Jeff Goldberg/Esto


    Click on thumbnail images
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