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258 Books on regarding the determining forces of architectural development to lie outside architecture. In the German-Swiss tradition in art history, especially as presented in the writings of Nikolaus Pevsner, Watkin finds the claim that the spirit of the age is the organizing principle of architecture to be a pervasive and an intolerant explanatory principle. Finally, those who support the rational, technological interpretation of architectural history, whom Watkin associates with Viollet-le-Duc, assume that architecture should be exclusively the intellectual solution of practical and technological problems. This slender book makes a substantial claim. It is Watkin's purpose to expose this common assumption in architectural history and to establish the view that it is essentially arbitrary and weak. Architectural decisions, he argues, are made in the context of an art with its own traditions, from which architects are free to draw aspects that they prefer. In defending this position, however, Watkin contracts the very symptoms he is so interested in eradicating, for the power of parody knows no allegiance. Like Popper, whose historicist position he endorses so unqualifiedly, Watkin exaggerates his opponents' contentions and is thus forced into an exaggerated alternative. This leads him to confuse historicism with other forms of historical process, and, by denying them, to be left with architects as uncaused causes, free agents able to make their selective decisions on 'aesthetic' grounds. More sophisticated discrimination is surely possible. Certainly since the 19th century one can talk about historical process without having to accept a crude historical determinism . Certainly, one can descry the conventions and orthodoxies of a period and the counterforces that they generated and by which they were succeeded. Surely, there are historical periods noted for a certain consistency of architectural expression that might result from social and cultural forces, meanings and traditions rather than appearing as the product of self-contained trends in architectural taste. To speak of causal relations in history does not require one to accept a deterministic model. Indeed, this very attitude is itself the consequence of an obsolete 17th- and 18th-century conception of mechanical causation, which historical understanding can assist one to avoid. The book, in which Watkin attempts to expose and attack the historicist trend in architectural history, thus incurs some of the same difficulties he ascribes to the position he condemns -exaggeration, parody and distortion. As a result, his view in the book is itself a moralistic condemnation of a moralistic attitude, a view that cannot but limit the effectiveness of his contribution to the subject. Mind and Image: An Essay on Art and Architecture. Herb Greene. Univ. Press of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.A., 1976. 210 pp., illus. $22.50. Reviewed by David G. De Long* As a USAmerican architect with a significant talent, Herb Greene merits attention. He is probably the best known of Bruce Goffs students and the first to achieve an international reputation. Through Goff his work is related to that of Frank Lloyd Wright, but like Goffs work, which is visually distinct from Wright's, so Greene's has become distinct from Goffs. Like his mentors, Greene strives to achieve an individual solution for each problem, stressing the particular over the general. His buildings respond to specific conditions of site, climate, materials and client requests. In this, and in his fascination with the immediate visual appearance that each building presents, he corresponds with the 18th- and early 19th-century followers of the Picturesque, as do Goff and Wright. But unlike those architects, Greene shows a particular fascination for the role of architectural symbols as a means of expanding individual expression. His book tells us how they do so. The book is an honest, sometimes moving, account of Greene's motivations and ideals as an architect. His objective is a noble one: to reinvest the built environment with human "Graduate School of Architecture and Planning, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, U.S.A. values through the incorporation of associational images, images that recall particular aspects of memory and experience and that enrich each commission with personal meaning. The book is divided into 24 short sections. In the first five, Greene explains his theoretical views of visual perception; these, as...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9282
Print ISSN
0024-094X
Pages
p. 258
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-04
Open Access
No
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