This interview was with the architectural critic and theorist Jeff Kipnis following the publication of his new book, Jeff Kipnis, A Question of Qualities: Essays in Architecture (MIT Press, 2013). The interview ranged across Kipnis’ theoretical stance but delved in particular into his contributions to theories of affect in architecture.

  • “But my thinking is so undisciplined and my goal, absolutely, is not to produce a following. In fact, it’s the last thing I want, is a following.”

  • “Europe’s old so they’re interested in memory. The United States isn’t old, so it’s interested in meaning.”

  • “The question is not who owns the Maison Dom-Ino diagram […] but what is the Maison Dom-Ino. And it turns out to be everybody owns it in its own way…”

  • “I thought the whole idea of a new ontology was born from a Sally painting I had in my gallery.”

  • “I’m late on everybody and I like being late on everybody. […] For example, I cannot abide the paintings of the South African superstar Julie Mehretu, but I’m sure in fifteen years, it’ll hit me.”

  • “There’s not a whole lot of lost secrets. But one of the lost secrets in Leonardo is how he got his sfumato so perfect.”

  • “This idea that something’s over with is about the dumbest thing in the arts I’ve ever heard of.”

  • “Freud […] said there were two parts to a dream. One was its meaning, and the other one was its affect. And so both of those were structured interpretations of the core wish.”

  • “There is such a thing as a phenomenology, it’s just not the religion that people would like […] There is no prestructured, precognitive condition.”

  • “I thought I was completing the poststructuralist linguistic theory of architecture which had worked out the problem of the sign and needed to finish the problem of the affect…”

  • “The idea of an architectural effect, the irreducible, irreproducible architectural effect, which I am part of introducing, came directly from my reading Mark Wigley’s White Walls. Which I thought was such a good book that I had to figure out some theory to defeat it.”



Hans Tursack

Issue Editor

Hans Tursack

Senior Editor

Joseph Bedford


Trudy Watt


Jeff Kipnis


Hans Tursack


Ohio State University School of Architecture