This round-table conversation between Stan Allen, Jesse Reiser and Michael Meredith addressed the personal experiences of the participants of formalist pedagogy across several decades.

  • “But we were at Cooper at a transitional moment I think. […] There was still the pedagogy of the nine-square grid that was being taught.”

  • “When I was at Brown, I took design studios at RISD, and my teacher wasn’t an architect, he was an industrial designer. […] But again, you know, the emphasis was on drawing and also just looking and seeing.”

  • “This was the emergence of the kind of semiotic approach of reading architectures. […] Their approach was to send you out to the city, to look at the buildings in the city, and to draw and analyze the buildings in the city and then re-write the architecture that you were analyzing.”

  • “We received all this material as gospel. […] We didn’t really have a critical apparatus to kind of interpret it.”

  • “Part of the Cooper education was to look carefully […] We spent a whole year analyzing existing architectures.”

  • “To get through the school you would just copy and tweak Corb. Like that was the model. And it used to drive me nuts.”

  • “We were also very distrustful of the conventional professional trajectory at that time.”

  • “We were really suspicious of late modernism at that time. Late modernism really seemed to have kind of run its course and to be exhausted […] I think again that’s one of the reasons why a figure like Rossi was really attractive.”

  • “It’s interesting how all those teachers, you know, produce a kind of influence on the project. But they’re actually at odds with one another.”

  • “What is the everyday conversation in the office. It’s not, you know, ‘What is the conceptual justification?’” // “I never buy that bologna. That’s the biggest damage postmodernism’s done.”

  • “There’s a sort of sense of, I don’t know, just kind of comfort that you’re not leaving problems unattended somehow. And again, that’s where the specifics of program will drive invention. […] You’re trying to bring the specifics of that problem into line with the larger set of issues you’re working on.”

  • “I think of it as parallel exercises and the kind of final project is […] where people have to start to choose or makes decisions or figure out how to engage those four previous exercises.”

  • “You’re, like, a super great colorist. But how do you bring that into architecture? […] I’d be curious what you guys think about color. […] I love color, but I can’t ever seem to do it […] in buildings.”

  • “I think […] the students they think that’s it—you come up with the idea and then you’re like the genius.” // “For me it’s the opposite. […] Usually, the idea goes. […] You thought it was a great idea and it was never what you thought it was when you actually started working.”



Hans Tursack

Issue Editor

Hans Tursack

Senior Editor

Joseph Bedford


Yshai Yudekovitz and Joseph Bedford.


Trudy Watt


Stan Allen, Jesse Reiser, and Michael Meredith


Hans Tursack and Yshai Yudekovitz


The conversation took place at RUR Architecture in New York