• The Good Metropolis: From Urban Formlessness to Metropolitan Architecture
    Alexander Eisenschmidt
    Birkhauser, 2019
    Alexander Eisenschmidt

Postcard of elevated train at Dennewitz and Bülow street, 1905, Berlin, Germany.

This book investigates the productive tension between the city and architectural form. It identifies in the German architectural discourse of the early-twentieth century an engagement with the city that aimed to find potential in the existing metropolis. The rapid growth of the industrial city had created an environment that was predominantly criticized as chaotic, irregular, and overwhelming (the formless metropolis). In contrast, a small group of figures, including the architect August Endell and the art and architectural critic Karl Scheffler, offered an alternative view that aimed to discover creative potential in the city without form. The operational and constructive nature that these figures associated with the formless city was to penetrate the modern architectural discourse. Therefore, this significant but so far overlooked modernist trope, has to be considered critical for our understanding of modernity and a precursor to a new mentality toward the city that captivated later generations of architects.

Alexander Eisenschmidt is assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago's School of Architecture, where he teaches history and theory and design studio. He received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania (2008) and his diploma from the University of Leipzig HTWK, Germany (1999). His dissertation was awarded the Graham Foundation’s Carter Manny Trustees' Merit Citation in 2006 and his research was supported by organizations such as the Kress Foundation and the Melhorn Fund. Eisenschmidt previously taught at Pratt Institute in New York, Syracuse University, and the University of Pennsylvania. He is the guest editor of City Catalyst (2012), lead editor of Chicagoisms (2013), and was the review editor of the Journal of Architectural Education. His work has been published extensively, ranging in venues from journals, such as Grey Room to the Architect's Newspaper, as well as chapters in edited anthologies. In addition, Eisenschmidt curated City Works at the 13th Architecture Biennale in Venice (2012), cocurated Chicagoisms at the Art Institute of Chicago (2014), and exhibited Collective City at the 2015 International Biennale on Urbanism in Shenzhen, China.