UTOPIA IS WRONG—
ALL UTOPIA IS SPECULATION, BUT NOT ALL SPECULATION IS UTOPIA—
UTOPIA IS WRONG. BUT BEAUTIFUL.

Interview with Aaron Betsky


WASH: The title of our first issue is “Utopia is the wrong word.”

Aaron Betsky: I would just say Utopia is wrong…

laughter

Well we could change it.

laughter 

We would like to start with a quote from Architecture and Utopia by Manfredo Tafuri to guide the discussion: “The experimental quarters, or settlements, are actually built Utopias at the edges of an urban reality [that is] very little conditioned by them. The historic centers and the productive areas of the city continue to accumulate and multiply their contradictions, and these are in large part contradictions that soon become more decisive than the means architecture had... to control them.” Maybe you would like to speak about the quote?


Well, what I think he’s talking about is that Utopia is an escape mechanism. Architecture and Utopia the whole book is in a good Marxist manner, based on the dialectic between sublimation and avoidance. And Utopia is the avoidance mechanism. I like to think of it as “a pie-in-the-sky-and-you-die.” It’s what Wobbly said that the priest promised you in religion, and that to a certain extent is what it is like. It’s this promise of perfection somewhere out there, either in space or in time. So, as Tafuri points out, those people who tried to realize Utopia did so by what they thought of as a tabula rasa. They found places where nature, they felt, was undisturbed; where social relations could be re-established, and of course that led to the excesses: first, the Soviet regime and then the two major fascist regimes, which tried to create Utopia by wiping out what existed and turning it into a tabula rasa. But it also is a Utopia in time, so there is this notion that some day we will build a perfect world and what you do as an architect or a planner is a promissory note towards that future. And the second has been the way in which architects have, as Tafuri points out, assuaged their guilty conscience; the first is the method by which social reformers have utilized architecture to create Utopias that always wound up being abortive or failed.

That’s interesting that you bring up that it exists in another time or in another place, because one of the things we came to realize as we were researching, is that it begins to start (and features most prominently) in literature, more than anywhere else. Starting from Thomas More, and there’s been so many books written about it…

And these days of course, Utopia lives in films…

Exactly, the movies. So it seems like this Utopian motif exists more so in film and literature than in architecture. What’s the reason for that? Is there some kind of nature to film and literature that allows it to—

No, no, I would just say that it exists more in literature because it doesn’t have to be built, and as soon as you try to realize Utopia, you contradicted the very nature of Utopia. So, the most successful utopian experiments in architecture have been fictional; have been proposals or descriptions, rather than the actual constructions which remain fragmentary and failed, so it’s a question of the medium. It’s a question of the nature of the endeavor which is speculative and propositional/fictional, rather than actual.

So film and literature are almost in another world in which you can build these Utopias?

No, it’s just that it presents a possible world, which at times can be Utopian; although it’s interesting that it is almost impossible to find pure Utopias. Certainly, since the beginning of the 20th century, because there’s always a built-in realization of their limits, even the most optimistic movies like Things to Come, show the limits of Utopia and the necessity to move beyond it.

You mentioned that it’s less prevalent in architecture, because of the need to build, how do you think that’s changing?

I’m not saying that it’s less prevalent. I’m saying that Utopia has a very particular function, which is to serve as a proposal or a speculation on another place. Remember, Utopia doesn’t mean “perfect” it means “another place” and that is carried out through a number of different means. Architects perhaps have higher expectations because they believe they can actually build it. But in fact, if you try to engage in the making of Utopias with sticks and stones, you find out that it is more difficult, and in fact I would say impossible. However, as we’ve known since Boullée, Ledoux, and Lequeu, it is entirely possible to engage in Utopias as fiction, proposal, and speculation.

Getting back to the mediums of literature and film, how do they differ from architecture?

I don’t think they are (different). (laughs) I don’t mean that. Of course, they are all different media, right, but what I’m saying is that Utopia is not necessarily a medium-bound endeavor—the making of Utopias. It is a type. It is a particular kind of—how else to say it—speculation, fiction. I’m trying to think of an analogy that would work. It’s difficult to make an analogy because you could argue that in fact, Utopia, at least if you draw that more fully to include dystopias and the whole range of what a Utopia can be—again not just perfection, is, if you will, that part of architecture that is fictional, or that is scenographic in its purest fashion. I think the interesting intersection, and also the generation of a lot of the imagery as well as the methodology, certainly in film and to an extent in architecture, is in fact stagecraft. So this notion that architecture is the re-staging of your world, that’s the point where I think a lot of these things come together, and one of my favorite moments is for instance Schinkel, who in Berlin tries to re-stage, and to a certain extent does re-stage the central part of the city as a permanent stage set; from Unter den Linden, down to the Brandenburg Gate, past the Neue Wache—the new guard—unto the museum island, with the Altes Museum and the Old Museum originally watching the palace, and then including the World Theatre and the plaza in front of it, to the point that the original backdrop designed for the theatre was a representation of that scene, that worked in perspective perfectly if you sat in the king’s box, so that the king would have a privileged view of the scene as Schinkel had laid it, and then he continues that in his plates and in his book—that completion or restaging. So, if you’re looking for that, you can find other places; another famous one is the Nuremberg Rally and Speer’s Cathedral of Light, but you can find throughout history moments where Utopia has a moment of realization at the intersection between construction and fiction.

Do you think that when it comes to Utopia—well you already said that we can’t build it—so is it something that we can discover? Something that changes about us, and the way we look at the world?

Well no, I think that’s a whole other category. That’s the architecture of wonder and how to awaken wonder in daily life. I think it’s more that these moments of realized Utopia are defined as moments, so one way of getting out of that deferral in time and space that is essential, is to have a lacuna in time and space, which is to have a temporary apparition. And so others have argued that the one place where the Russian revolution reached its full percentage was in the propaganda sets, the agitprop sets that unfolded out of trains that were sent throughout the Russian landscape. So it’s those kinds of moments where it can appear and disappear, and people have argued that if you’re looking for realized Utopias, you’ll find them in certain parts of expositions, fairs, and those kinds of things.

This might seem like a weird question, but would you say that moments when you are lost in reading are Utopia? Are you in Utopia in those moments?

No, again I think you’re confusing the relative specificity of the notion of Utopia of creating another place that acts as an idealized mirror to current social and political, physical, and economic relations, with the larger category of fantasy or speculation. All Utopia is a speculation but not all speculation is a Utopia.

Is it possible to explore Utopia through collage? But beyond creating an idealized vision, or as you say—a speculation—what is the value in doing so?

Well, I’m not sure if I agree with that. I’d have to think about that for a moment because the whole notion of collage in the pure sense, collage assemblage, is that it is created out of found materials. Now from a theoretical standpoint, if you follow Lévi-Strauss, or any number of other people who have speculated on where collage has come from, it is exactly the opposite of Utopia, because it seeks to rearrange the existing relations, to actualize their latent relations. And if you think of it as a material practice, because it uses torn existed or existing material, that makes is very difficult for it to be Utopia. So, I’m not sure that I could see how you could create Utopia out of collage. You can certainly use collaged elements, people have, as a kind of reference point within Utopia of what you are transforming. But you know, that’s the interesting thing why for instance, we talked about Utopias in film, where Utopias are at by that very same thing Utopic. It’s very hard to find pure Utopias as I said earlier, because Blade Runner, which is the most famous one ( more of a dystopia than a Utopia), is made so much out of what already existed even in 1983 when it was made, and last night we wasted an hour and a half watching the new Star Trek movie—a big loss. (laughs) But even there, their Utopian city which is prescribed in its scale as this sort of Yorktown… Thing is made up of basically existing pieces. I mean they have the metro from Dubai, Towers from Hong Kong and other places, so by that very token it loses that kind of Utopian sense.

You mentioned that there is dichotomy between Utopia and dystopia, there’s certain work of literature, like Brave New World—

Dichotomy is uh—they always end up shading it together. That’s what I said, the important thing is that we come to despite the etymology of the name and its first use in Thomas More’s book, and we have tended to think of Utopia as a brightness and light, but in reality of course it isn’t, even in Thomas More’s book. So, there is no such thing as a Utopia—a Utopia that would be pure would be heaven, and heaven has no physical reality and cannot in fact be described.

We would like to go back to collage briefly. What we were talking about reminded us of this quote by Louis Kahn, “Architecture must have good and bad spaces.” It’s this idea that the irrationality of the part is justified in the clarity of the whole, and this makes us think of collages and about the whole Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. Do you think that when you are using these used pieces and reassembling them—like conventional parts and putting together a new relationship, that they lose some of their quality as being old and become new in a way? Could that probe at Utopia somehow?

Hmm, I don’t know. I would be pretty hard-ass about that and I would say that the interesting thing about collage is that it offers in fact an alternative mode of speculation, that again does not reveal or point, but actualizes, mirrors, points, realizes, and it goes back a little bit, and I would take it back to my own favorite dialectic—my misreading of Svetlana Alpers—and her distinction between northern and southern modes of picture-taking and this whole notion that you can think of art or architecture as either a window into another world—which I would say is the Utopian impulse, or as a mirror of the whole world all around you—which I would say is the collage impulse.

Let’s talk again about Brave New World—because that’s a bit of a collage in the literary sense, in that he (Huxley) takes parcels of reality, in his present day, and projects certain aspects into the future and takes them to their ultimate conclusion. So don’t you think that there’s almost elements of collage—

No, no, you have to be careful. Just because something uses what exists, doesn’t make it necessarily collage, so again, all collage is made up of found/used materials, but not all use of found/used materials is collage. So I would say that it’s too much of a stretch. (laughs)

This notion of using Utopia as a device to critique, makes us think of Superstudio and Archigram and—

Yes, absolutely. And I think that is how Thomas More wrote Utopia: as a critique. And I’ve used words like speculation, but that’s a very good point. The root of motivation for Utopia is as a critique. So I think that’s absolutely essential to the notion of a Utopia. It is a form of critique.

It’s funny because it seems like architects have this idea that they want to build things and save the world—it’s weird because that sort of leads to Utopia but Utopia is in itself an impossibility...

Well my line of reason—and there are many ways that you can discuss that—the easiest one I have is based to a certain extent on writings by Tony Vidler and Mark Wigley, which is that when the profession of architecture is regularized under Louis XIV through the Academy and mirrored in various other countries, but really the Academy becomes the global definition. It has two essential problems. One is that it has a built-in hierarchy, which is that your highest aspiration is to work for the king (or state), and that all other constructions to that are subsidiary and lesser. The second is that in the Academy the status of the architect and of architecture, between art and engineering, is never fully resolved. And that echoes through this day to the in-between way in which architects think of themselves as both engineers and artists, to the way in which some architecture schools are in engineering departments and others are colleges of art and such. Those and various other dichotomies create a kind of built-in problem for the architect, which is that he, until very recently only he, which is whole other set of problems, is a servant of the state who has been educated to believe that his highest fulfillment would be to build for the central institutions of the state. And yet very few people can do that, and even the people who do, wind up not building the whole state but only some small part of it, and the second is that the architect always believes he’s an artist, but is caught in the world of engineering; or the other way you know, is someone who really is an engineer who has to make things look pretty. The way out of all of that, is to create Utopias. And so it becomes a hobby, if you understand hobby in the Veblian notion of the sublimation of one’s desires and one’s frustrated ability to—in the Marxist sense—retain that which is otherwise alienated from you. So it becomes the way in which the architect can retain architecture, rather than being merely a servant of the state, and someone who fulfills a series of technical or aesthetic programs. Rather it is that which allows the architect to be an architect, freed from those constraints. So it is the wet dream of architects… (laughs) It is the imagined freedom of a pure architecture, and in a very practical sense it is what architects do: they do bread-and-butter buildings during the week and then they go home at night, or during the weekend, and then they create Utopias. Now, for writers who create Utopia, it has a whole other function, and anyway much simpler, it’s just a plot twist; it’s another way to imagine, again, fantasy worlds.

This is interesting because we have interviewed Perry Kulper, Nathalie and Cruz (WAI Think Tank), and then Marshall Brown. We can see them on that spectrum of engaging in a Utopia—and maybe Perry Kulper does that the most and then Marshall Brown does it the least—Nathalie and Cruz fall somewhere in the middle. So Utopia is a way for the architect to cultivate his own escape?

Although I think the model is slightly different. I think Cruz and Nathalie just love Utopia. I would argue with them slightly that as Tafuri said, the possibility of Utopia is precluded. And it has been precluded since the Second World War. The kind of speculative work that goes on now has a slightly different nature and character, which is that it is inherently speculative and assumes the notion of a final project. So essential to the notion of Utopian thinking is that there is a complete other place. There’s an island somewhere, right? That’s how Thomas Moore imagined it. That very totality and finality has been precluded by the realization of the violence; both the impossibility of its appearance and the violence that every attempt to try to realize that appearance has led to. Most famously in the gas chambers of the Second World War. Again this is the argument Tafuri makes. If one still wants to engage in this kind of sublimative action then one engages in it. I mean, Tafuri says forget it and just go work for the communist party. If you want to engage in architecture then you engage in something that has a different character to it which I have called speculative. It first becomes a retrospective and reflective in Superstudio, Archizoom, Archigram, all those people... And then takes off and starts wandering. With Debord if you will, and post Debord, becomes self-conscious of its own impossibility in post-structuralist writing. And then becomes, in architecture, the kind of speculative work that you see appearing out of postmodernism in the 80’s and 90’s, and that has a wide spectrum of possibilities going all the way from the fantastical drawings that Charles Moore does, to Lebbeus Woods and his work, and everything in between. And I would argue to a certain extent that that form of experimentation, i.e. the notion that you take, that you speculate on existing conditions and what they could become without having a set outcome is much more what is going on currently. It’s much more meandering, much more self-reflecting meandering and open ended. And that open-endedness is what’s most important. You know, what happens if I put these two chemicals together? Are they going to explode? What are they going to do?

About Debord, are you talking of the Society of the Spectacle or something else?

Yes, well the dérive.

You are an academic, that’s the role you’ve taken, and you’re a writer and a critic. Do you consider yourself an architect then? Do you engage in that Utopia aspect?

I like to think of myself as an architect but I can’t say I’m an architect because I’m not licensed. I’m not an academic because I never got a PhD. So, I’m not quite anything, I’m someone who loves to speculate and who has a passion for, among other things, architecture that I want to share and I just find various media to do that.

Architects have that escape on the weekends and they can go and do their crazy drawings. Is that something that you do?

It’s interesting, I’ve never felt that impulse. I’ve loved the people who have and I’ve obviously been fascinated by it and I’ve written a lot about it but it’s never been anything that I’ve felt an impulse to do myself. If I’m anything, I’m probably a critic. So I’m interested in having other people do it and then I will talk or write or think about it.

At the very beginning of the interview instead of saying Utopia is the wrong word you said Utopia is wrong. Why?

Well, because I think that the desire to realize Utopia has led us down destructive and self-destructive paths. And that’s why I am also -maybe it marks my generation- more interested in experiments and experience than I am in Utopia. So to a certain extent Utopia is evil, however gorgeous it is.

So you’re siding with the mirror instead of the window to the other world. You talk about the use of collage and the power of bringing together things that already exist. Would you say architects should be more hunter gatherers instead of planners from scratch?

Yes that’s what I argue. Now, it’s always dangerous to have a dialectic. But it’s useful when you’re constructing an argument. And so my argument has been for quite some time now that we need less architects who try to impose their will on our poor captive audiences and instead think of their work as hunting and gathering and bringing out into concealment what might be familiar to you through the means of architecture. That is the kind of work that interests me. Obviously when you have a dialectic you always have to have a third. To me it seems like there is a third that is somewhere in two images or models that I keep rotating around and coming back to. One is the notion of the veil which shows up in Heidegger. That which veils and conceals and reveals. It shows up in Frank Lloyd Wright, in The Art and Craft of the Machine; the veil of ideality. Clothing the industrial world with the veil. Which is not a covering but is something that reveals at the same time as it covers. And that whole notion of neither this transparency nor opaqueness but translucency, ambiguity, that which reveals and hides form consumption. That which sublimates, that which alludes rather than says. All those kinds of things interest me. The other model is the notion of deep knowledge, and contemplative reality. Exemplified best is perhaps the notion of calligraphy and the notion that you assimilate and bring back out reality through endless practice and contemplation. The Zen notion of an abstract reality or of a real abstraction. There’s something there, about what in Zen they would call the not one sided middle path towards truth. That has always interested me.

By pointing out the veil that conceals and reveals, it makes us think of Jean Baudrillard’s book The Conspiracy of Art. In this book he talks about the illusion of art and the veil which hides and reveals at the same time. Could that be related?

Interesting, I haven’t read Baudrillard in a long time. I think Baurdillard’s argument is slightly different, which is, the media becomes the message if you will. The spectacle becomes the art rather than whatever might be behind it. But this notion that in fact the processes of art all the way from assemblage rather than conception through reception, or consumption in fact constitute not the real work of art, because there is no such thing, but represent that which gathers the art together and forms the presence of art in our world.

Baudrillard has another essay called Signs and Simulacra where he makes the argument that when you take an undiscovered Amazonian village and put it in a museum you destroy it. Could you say the same about Utopia? Could you say that when you take this other place and try and build it, that process destroys it?

It’s completely different because there is a reality to the Amazon whereas there is no reality to Utopia. This is the point I am trying to hammer in. By its very definition Utopia has no reality. You can’t move it from anywhere.

It might be curious to apply this notion of the veil to Utopia though...

Yes, the argument you can make it—that the presence of Utopia within culture as a critique to a certain extent, has that.

In the publication for the Shenzhen Biennale you talk about how Venturi, Koolhaas and Rowe contribute to the notion of collage. You mention Venturi and all the little idiosyncrasies of renaissance architecture and how they all form a relation with each other, Rowe about Collage City and the city as an aggregation, Koolhaas and his study of New York and the grid, and how basically each block can be its own universe. Could you speak on the relationship between these three?

I think that’s what I was trying to get at, and there are lots of people I could cite. But Venturi made a break, a very important break. Of course there is no such thing as a break because this has been going on for a while. But he articulated it in a way that I think certainly caused an opening within architecture. When Complexity and Contradiction came out, and usually that’s thought of as his contribution is to bring history back, but actually what he was bringing back was an evaluation of the existing. Which is by its very nature historical. And we should not forget that Complexity and Contradiction is basically about his Prix de Rome experience. That book is basically the ultimate propaganda for why the Prix de Rome should exist. It exposed him to a city of spolia. Of elements that had to fit in within a very densely accreted structure. But then he follows that up with a series of speculation both built and written about pop culture. And that’s not strange because both are existing forms with which he’s fascinated. It’s the same time that Sterling is doing Lester Labs and a lot of other people are admitting again what had been sublimated for quite a while in mainstream architecture which is the reality that we build with what we have and a re-appraisal of that existing reality. What Venturi articulated and what other architects articulated in form like say Lutyens rather than in writing it, that reality is messy. That the essential critique is of an attempt to create Utopia. That rather than working as a hunter gatherer we should gather together existing vernaculars and tricks and tools. Not in order to reveal something, but in order for architecture to do its work. Which is to rearrange and to reaffirm the patterns of everyday life. Rowe and Koetter specify that by really mining the history of collage. Their contribution is very much in that area. And also in drawing the relation for collage at an urban level. Where they realize that every attempt to re-organize the urban environment is in essence fragmentary and for all of its Utopian impulses winds up being a collage. Even the most ideal cities. And the other contribution they make is therefore understanding that architecture is neither—again this is the veil—a complete aesthetic and structural system. Nor is it a Utopian speculation, but rather it’s a scaffolding. It’s a temporary framework through which and by which we can construct buildings. And then Koolhaas, who obviously studies this, looks at New York not Rome, and finds there during his residency at the Institute of Architecture and Urban Studies this mixture of architectural tropes and methods and forms, and pop cultural appearances. That together creates as, if Venturi would say “main street is almost alright” then Koolhaas would say “New York is almost alright” and in order to be alright it needs to be more so. So that notion that “less is a bore”—“more is more”, that the work of architecture is not one of removal either by incision or by removal in time and space but one of accretion and of intensification, of involution. Again, these are all kinds of post-structuralist kinds of phrases. Invagination if you will. This realization of the latent power of the city... In that realization a kind of bringing things to the point of climax.

So the architect’s job is to bring that to the surface?

Yes, to climax if you will. The sexual imagery is very evident here. But it’s also a kind of punk rock, turn-the-volume-up kind of thing. If you will, it’s a kind of Dionysian excess.

This is interesting. It seems related to Deleuze, Guattari and Manuel Delanda, and their discourse about assemblages, stratums and relationships unlocking some kind of power. What is it about the relationship between things being incarnated so magically?

Well it’s not just things. With Koolhaas he sees a set of developments in time and in space that are almost exploding. And in their explosion one could realize what is inherent within Manhattanism. So it’s the remaking and reassembling of what is there, so that it is more there. It’s the same as a good Dutch 17th century painting—you use all of your craft to make what is there more there.

We keep hearing these words: more, aggregation, excess… All of these things keep coming up. Isn’t Utopia the ultimate excess?

Yes, it is, but since you brought up Deleuze and Guattari what it eventually leads to is retroactive smoothing. When the system becomes so complex it implodes in on itself and becomes pure nothingness—it explodes into pure nothingness. And that is the thing. It looks a lot like Utopia because it’s abstract and white, but it is a dense minimalism instead of a minimalism of erasure. Like Richter’s erasure paintings where he layers and scrubs and layers and scrubs and layers and scrubs, and it achieves that kind of dense minimalism.

We would like to get back to this notion of the architect as being overly ambitious…

Is that self-reflexive? (laughs)

We don’t know... We are not architects yet. (laughs) What we want to ask though is this: These architects who are taking the collage route, the reinvigorate route—Urban Think Tank comes to mind—is what they do always helpful? Is it always a good thing?

Oh, of course not. And I think Urban Think Tank will tell you that as well. The thing is when you try to be a catalyst instead of a hero, the catalyst starts the fire but you never know which way it’s going to burn. You obviously have an intentionality in what you’re doing, but removing yourself from the scene is good but also is dangerous. It takes us to that point of danger. I think what you’re getting at is a whole other cultural problem. The problem of our cultural, individual responsibility and fulfillment. Which gets into deeper philosophical and even political discussions. I mean we have this very stark thing going on this week right? You have one person who is saying my motto is stronger together. “And we’re all going to do this together”—”And I’m basically a machine politician, and machine politicians get things done by working together.” And then you have another person who says “fuck all of you I’m better than all of you and the only way we’re going to get things done is by screwing over as many people as possible”—“Winning!” And there are architects who fall in part into those two categories as well.

We wrote a statement and we were wondering what you thought about it: “Haunted by the past, Utopia is a trap door to the future.”

A future that will never come. But again the other category in which Utopia belongs is in speculations about the future. And we’ve talked about them in fiction but another category is economic forecasting and a whole other number of forms of speculation and they always turn out to be wrong. Even a futurologist will tell you that the whole point of the future is that you can never predict it. You can approach it and offer promissory notes. I think that as a speculation and as a future, it’s both doomed to failure. Which does not take away from its function as a critique. It’s how architects justify what they do every day. I’m building a promissory note for a better world. Whether it’s a complete better world, a Utopia, or just an incrementally better world.

So we see this movement in architecture away from building and towards rearranging. Where was that born?

Yes, well in the past we tried creating the perfect world and it almost killed us. If we had gone the other way in the Cuban Missile Crisis none of us would probably be here. So let’s try something else. The roots of course are much, much deeper and I think there is a kind of hidden history of architecture. Which goes all the way back to Catalhoyuk and the first tents. Another one is the contribution that women have made to the build environment. They have been literally suppressed and interiorized.

Would you say that in this day and age it’s possible to be an architect and not build anything?

Yes! The argument I’ve made is that some of the best architects are people who make movies or who act in all kinds of other ways. All of this thinking could just be a self-justification for how my life has turned out.

There is a book called On Adams House in Paradise. Could you speak on that?

Rykwert asks the question—“Did Adam have a house in paradise?”—And then traces through history the various attempts to speculate what Adam’s house might have been. And of course, on the cover is Laugier’s primitive hut. So, it’s about that, it’s about the Temple of Solomon, about all these kind of origin myths of architecture. It’s more about the archeology than the eschatology of architecture.

At the time of the Chartre d’Athènes, concerned about shaping the modern world, the architects were very interested in how to engage and better the social realm. Then you have Pruitt-Igoe—and since then architecture has dropped the social concern and become focused on form.

I think that is too much speculation. I think what Pruitt-Igoe is a symbol of is the failure of a particular formula in which architects could engage in direct social action. And you can question whether it really was the fault of the formula if you think of the formula in the larger sense. That the architect has a place within a larger bureaucratic system, yes I think we can all agree that that formula failed. Did it fail because not enough money was given to it? That’s a whole other question. But it’s not like architects just woke up and said “oh well looks like we can’t make the world better, so let’s just go make money.” That’s what they were doing beforehand. It’s just that they found other formulas and methods in which to do that. And the larger question is whether any of those formulas would work. That remains the big question.

Is Utopia the wrong word?

I would just say that Utopia is wrong. But beautiful. Or useless.

...

Aaron Betsky is a critic and author of more than a dozen books on art, architecture, and design. Trained at Yale, Betsky has worked as a designer for Frank O. Gehry & Associates and Hodgetts + Fung, taught at SCI-Arc, and served as the director of the 11th Venice International Architecture Biennale. He is currently the dean at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin and Taliesin West.

taliesin.edu