addendum: Click here to read
Krier’s answers to Weinstein’s questions – and their ensuing debate.
Some questions for author
- You refer to Nazi
architect Albert Speer as “a born-form giver.” Could you please define
this phrase? Does it suggest a genetic predisposition for design?
- How would you briefly
summarize your sense of how successfully Speer fulfilled his professional
obligations for a design-driven dialogue with Hitler?
- Should his architectural
career in any way take into consideration his preference for using forced
labor teams to realize his designs?
- Was Speer’s first
substantial independent job as “Commissioner for the Artistic and
Technical Presentation of Party Rallies and Demonstrates” an ideal
preparation for the development of his classical monumental architectural
- How might you have
experienced the architectural grandeur of the Zeppelinfeld at night, the
time Speer most wanted the stadium inhabited?
- What do you think might
have prompted Speer’s father responding to his son’s model for the
three-mile wide Prachtallee (Boulevard of
Dreams), “You’ve all gone completely insane”
Some questions for Robert
A.M. Stern, author of preface to Krier’s Speer
- You describe Speer’s
designs as “reprehensible politically, but perhaps laudable
architecturally.” Doesn’t your architectural judgment include the intended
function of architecture? Are you familiar with the comic
Monty Python skit, “Architects
Sketch,” where a British architect who was expected to give a
presentation for a high-rise housing project instead offers his
prospective clients an abattoir? Funny or offensive in light of Speer’s
clients? Couldn’t even the comic’s architectural funny face be taken
seriously on one level since the comic, like Speer, offered “one of the
boldest urban plans in modern times” (to note your praise of Speer’s
achievement)? After divorcing politics from architectural form and
practice, why not find equally laudable as architectural triumphs a
democratic capitol city’s design and Hitler’s vision for Berlin? An artful
abattoir as well as an artful Hospice building?
- You wrote: “He (Krier) should have been instead praised for
pointing out the complexities of the interwar struggle between classicism
and modernism that centered on the failure of modernism to develop a
convincing response to the requirements for monumental public
architecture.” So Speer was a martyr to an internecine stylistic
tug-of-war within architecture? Then who were those forced under death
threats to construct Speer’s architecture? Unprofessional subcontractors?
Were they lucky to have not been engaged in an architecturally
“unconvincing” modernist work of monumental public architecture?
- Please explain why you are
bothered by the removal of traceries of Speer’s influence on the design of
To Krier’s enthusiastic book
reviewer, Witold Rybczynski:
- You respond
to a key question Krier poses in his book, “Can a war criminal be a great
artist?” with “Evidently, yes.” How does that question change when
reframed as: “Can a self-admitted genocidal designer be a great
architect?” Can a great architect of any era or political ideology be
removed from any traditional definition of ethical professional practice?
And was Speer’s architectural greatness aided or hindered by the design
team he worked with? And what kind of major architect perceives urban
buildings and pathways scaled primarily in terms of gigantism?
To the Author, the Dean, and
- Have you no shame?
Responses from all are welcome.
Weinstein writes about
architecture and design for Architectural Record, and
is the author of “Words That Build” – an exclusive 21-part
series published by ArchNewsNow.com – that focuses on the overlooked foundations of
architecture: oral and written communication. He consults with
architects and engineers interested in communicating more profitably; his webinars are
available from ExecSense. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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