Walking the Wexner: Experiencing Deconstruction

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As an example of deconstructivist architecture, Peter Eisenman’s Wexner Center revolves around a particularly nuanced question of meaning. Specifically, the building’s significance is not static but lies in an ever-changing discussion of what it is and how it acts. While the theoretical background supporting this interpretation must be understood and appreciated, I contest that a complete study of the complex should consider also how its inhabitants affect it and are affected by it. Blueprints and articles should be only first steps after which the living building and its effects are observed and assessed. This paper combines traditional analyses of the Wexner (e.g. formal, symbolic, textual) with an “experiential analysis” derived from two visits in which I photographed the site and interviewed its daily users. The product of these analyses is a critique of the Wexner Center as it functions today rather than a description of how Eisenman assumed it would operate when he designed it. Reconfiguring the Wexner as an architectural ecosystem, I address a number of wider concerns, including how successful it is as a public building and whether Eisenman builds what he professes in his written work.


Thesis Submitted in Fulfillment of Requirements for Graduation with Distinction in the Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies




Workman, John J. (2008). Walking the Wexner: Experiencing Deconstruction. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/573.

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