ABSTRACT

The past two decades of architectural production have witnessed the rise and fall of the “signature architect.” Born in the thick of a neoliberal world market and lubricated by a growing ennui for “criticality,” architects cultivated a new spirit of practice. As a practice, it built itself around a cult of personality as much as on the technical pragmatics of a self-satisfied generation relishing the spotlight of a globally mediatized world. It was a period whose intellectual wager was placed firmly in the category of “reality,” which, if addressed with open candor, promised to reveal the creative genius of the beholder. While able to reach new heights of renown in this climate, architects found their success depended not only on the production of architecture itself, but equally as much on a concerted fabrication of propaganda for their work – claims to particular regions of “reality” which helped to illuminate the uniqueness of the work. Whether cynical reinterpretations of clients’ briefs, statistics of “user” behaviors, or advanced digital models of site conditions, we triumphantly named this opening up to reality “research,” and undoubtedly it helped each architect hone in on his or her unique signature style – an idiosyncratic approach to design which could be identified in a single glance.