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DE-ARCHITECTURE by James Wines (Rizzoli: $40, cloth; $25, paper; 189 pp.).

March 06, 1988|Sam Hall Kaplan

For nearly 20 years, James Wines has headed a New York-based design firm by the name of SITE (sculpture in the environment) that has been producing eye-catching showrooms for Best Products and a smattering of other witty projects. With these as vivid illustrations and contending that "a lack of communication has been architecture's most conspicuous failure in the 20th Century," Wines urges architects to seek out a richer, more metaphorical and metaphysical design language. To do this, Wines says architects must reject the profession's "smug complacency and resolute preconceptions" rooted in a preoccupation with functionalism and style--an act Wines defines as "de-architecture"--and embrace the art of architecture as a form of expression and communication. It is a strained manifesto that, perhaps appropriately, is better illustrated by SITE's provocative projects than Wine's words.

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