ABSTRACT

Irrational exuberance The 1990s saw the end of the cold war, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the opening of China, and the rise of neoliberalism, globalization, the internet, the dot.com boom, and “The New Economy.” Capitalism had won, and enthusiasm for its ability to raise standards of living, promote democracy, and advance technology increasingly squelched the remaining 1960s-era critiques of its consequences. Instead, corporate ideology co-opted countercultural revolutionary songs and slogans from the 1960s to cheer on 1990s-style reengineering for the information age, marketing individualism as well as the commodification of dissent.1 Did architectural discourse similarly morph 1960s radicalism into 1990s icon-making during this period of rising faith in free markets and digital technology? What happened to architectural criticism during a period that saw the end of welfare as we knew it in the US and acceptance of the widening gap between rich and poor as an unfortunate, but necessary, by-product of modernization and a healthy economy? Was it only in the 1990s that Rem Koolhaas could ride this global socio-economic restructuring and emerge as one of architectural design culture’s leading avant-gardists while celebrating capitalism?