Aldo Rossi, a practicing architect and leader of the Italian architectural movement La Tendenza, is also one of the most influential theorists writing today. The Architecture of the City is his major work of architectural and urban theory. In part a protest against functionalism and the Modern Movement, in part an attempt to restore the craft of architecture to its position as the only valid object of architectural study, and in part an analysis of the rules and forms of the city’s construction, the book has become immensely popular among architects and design students.
Written 17 years ago, at a time when the Italian student movement had just begun and interdisciplinary design methodologies enjoyed popularity, [The Architecture of the City ] was one of the first major reassessments of the Modern Movement. In contrast to Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, appearing in the same year, Rossi’s critique focuses not on the sterility of forms or the rejection of stylistic imagery in modern architecture, but rather, as the title suggests, on the neglect and destruction of the city, the repository of ‘the collective memory of man.’ Perhaps most important to Americans, who face a resurgence of idiosyncratic and highly personal designs, is Rossi’s emphasis on the collective, the public realm. He reminds us that individual reputations and accomplishments are less important than our cities themselves.—Mary McLeod , Design Book Review—