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Belmont Freeman: Critique on the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, 1967 – 1984

by SAH News | Jan 17, 2014
I wish that it still existed.   — Frank Gehry

It would be the world's biggest nightmare if the Institute were still alive.   — Mark Wigley

It was the moment for something to happen.   — Diana Agrest

Let me start with a disclaimer: I was not there. I was not a Fellow at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, nor did I take classes there or attend lectures. I can offer no insider view of the “The Institute,” as everyone called it, or dish up racy tales of the goings-on there. I moved to New York City in early 1977 for my first job after graduate school and I certainly was aware of the IAUS and its activities — there were posters on the walls and a lot of talk, even in the drafting room at Davis Brody. I visited the Institute’s quarters on Bryant Park a few times, to see exhibitions, but I found the place a bit intimidating, like an exclusive club for people with special knowledge to which I did not have the key. I loved reading Skyline and I would pick up Oppositions and read articles that I often found unnecessarily abstruse. Certainly I could burnish my intellectual credentials today if I told people that I had been a regular at the IAUS. The IAUS is, in a way, the high-minded architectural community’s equivalent of Woodstock. (I wasn’t there, either.) If every architect of my generation who today claims to have “hung out at the Institute” really was there, the top floor of 8 West 40th Street would have been as crowded as Yasgur’s farm.

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