Skip to Main Content

Stephen Phillips: Kiesler’s robots (September 30, 2011)01:04:09

John Enright introduces Stephen Phillips, the head of the Cal Poly LA Metro program at San Luis Obispo, the author of “Elastic Architecture” on Frederick Kiesler, and principal of the office SPARCHS.

Phillips describes Frederick Kiesler's most significant proposals, including the Universal Theater concept for a show in 1962 at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York. Kiesler believed that traditional architecture lacks the adaptability, and flexibility necessary to meet the demands of modern society. Kiesler's proposals incorporated the temporal variation of space and shapes in order to synchronize with the human body's rhythms.

While teaching at Columbia and Yale, Kiesler researched human motion and perception. Philips presents several of Kiesler's installations that employ that research to engage the viewer in novel ways. Beyond employing movable elements, Kiesler proposed flexible expanding and contracting spaces.

Stephen Phillips and Todd Gannon discuss Kiesler's work and his impact on architecture.They both credit Kiesler with being the first to propose architectural ideas without the need to build them in order to demonstrate the value of the ideas. They also discuss Kiesler's obsession with control, always to the service of the corporate good, and the social and political implications of this view.

Phillips discusses Kiesler's Endless House, and his embrace of contemporary trends. Though ignored by the modernists and the postmodernists, in Phillip's opinion Kiesler is one of the greatest architects of the 20th century, whose ideas are still contemporary.

From the Media ArchiveMedia archive link