While the review of this book is largely positive, there is a rub. The authors, who are expressly interested in the corporeal bodies of architecture and the material realities of construction, decay, and demolition, largely eschew deeper specifics of these topics in favor of lateral connections and wordplay. The survey moves between concepts ranging from dross, junk, and rust to dilapidation, demolition, and ruin, touching too briefly on examples of each. This could leave the reader longing for a deeper examination of fewer examples. Despite this criticism, it is clear that Cairns and Jacobs have command of their subject and have brought together a wide and diverse set of ideas to make their cases. While the book remains squarely in the disembodied world of theory and criticism, it does offer concrete arguments and perspectives on what is a fascinating and underserved topic. Buildings Must Die ultimately breaks new ground and offers a valuable and fresh perspective. This book about the material, cultural, and conceptual consequences of decay and death leads one to reconsider the attributes of old and new buildings alike. In doing so, we see opportunities for physical bodies that exist in, and inevitably leave, an increasingly virtual, immaterial world.
Bernard Tschumi’s Advertisements for Architecture were a series of postcard-sized text-image juxtapositions created in 1976–77, each a “manifesto of sorts,” according to the architect.
Renata Hejduk, “Death Becomes Her: Transgression, Decay, and eROTicism in Bernard Tschumi’s Early Writings and Projects,” Journal of Architecture 12, no. 4 (August 2007): 393–404, 396.
How to Cite this Article: Satterfield, Blair. Review of Buildings Must Die: A Perverse View of Architecture, by Stephen Cairns and Jane Jacobs. JAE Online. September 22, 2016. https://jaeonline.org/issue-article/buildings-must-die/.