Typological Theory in the United States: The Consumption of Architectural “Authenticity”

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7 Scopus citations


This essay examines the assimilation and progressive devaluation of typological theory into American post-modern historicism between the late seventies and early eighties, when theory was transformed from a critical means of resistance to the commodified architecture and urbanism of multinational capitalism into an affirmative instrument of the forces it was initially intended to oppose. This episode raises issues that are central to a critical understanding of the production and consumption of ideas and images within the contemporary architectural “culture industry” and illuminates some of the broader conditions of contemporary culture that have profoundly affected the role of architecture within it. Most significantly, perhaps, it exemplifies the unwillingness or inability of most recent “avant- garde” positions within architecture to address substantially the role of architecture and the city as economic and cultural commodities. This essay addresses two points along the brief trajectory of type theory in the United States that underscore its significance-its initial mode of reception within architectural academia and its selective assimilation into post-modernist architectural practice- and concludes with an examination of its defenselessness against the broader realities of architecture's role as an instrumentalized symbol within a mass-mediated, market-driven culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2-13
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Architectural Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Education
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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