From Deep Structure to an Architecture in Suspense: Peter Eisenman, Structuralism, and Deconstruction

Thomas Patin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This article examines the events that led architect Peter Eisenman to abandon his earlier mode of working, exemplified by his houses of the sixties through the seventies, and to begin his “deconstruction” projects, such as the Wexner Center in Columbus, Ohio. Eisenman's early concerns centered on late-modernist understandings of form, structure, autonomy, self-sufficiency, and strict self-referentiality. Through his writings, Eisenman situated his work within related theoretical issues that were circulating in the fields of linguistics, painting, and sculpture, using them as examples, analogies, and theoretical support. These other related disciplines reached a limit in the quest for autonomy and self-sufficiency due to the limit immanent in the logic and rhetoric employed to achieve their goals. The same deconstruction occurred in other fields, eventually resulting in theories called poststructuralist. This article explores the process through which Eisenman met such an impasse in his early work and began a more self-consciously deconstruction mode of working. I also consider how Eisenman’s more recent work participates in an ongoing critique within cultural theory in general of institutions and power. Finally, I suggest that we reconsider just what deconstruction and post-modernism mean in architecture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-100
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Architectural Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Education
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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