Review of The Good Metropolis in Architectural Record. Daniel Brook writes: “Eisenschmidt audaciously argues that a central tension in modern city-building has gone hiding in plain sight. While architects are by nature control freaks, sweating the details of their artifacts, the space where their creations are housed—the modern metropolis—is, by nature, out of control … All should eagerly tune in to his future broadcasts.”

Join The Good Metropolis Salon, a book launch and conversation on the productive tension between the city and architectural form, at UIC Architecture, South Lobby, A+D Studios, April 30, 6pm.


The Good Metropolis: From Urban Formlessness to Metropolitan Architecture (Berlin: Birkhäuser, 2019). Supported by a Graham Foundation Publication Grant and a Getty Foundation Library Research Residency.

The subject of this book is the productive tension between the city and architectural form. It seeks to reevaluate the relationship between these two realms in which architecture’s inherent predisposition toward form is often matched only by the city’s ability to avoid it. While design is defined by intention and deliberation, the urban environment frequently appears aimless and conflicted, even accidental, fostering a tendency to view urbanization as undermining and negating architecture’s effectiveness. This book, however, traces an alternative discourse of architecture’s relationship to the city. As the title “The Good Metropolis” suggests, I explore here the fascinations with the modern city expressed by the architectural avant-garde and beyond, revealing how the forces of urbanization often served as a stimulant for architecture’s spatial imagination. It considers so-far overlooked courses of action within architectural modernism and twentieth-century urban theory that are not predicated on tectonic functionalism, technological inventions or such like but instead on architecture’s intimate relationship with the metropolis. I argue that the city has been a predominant force (even if often unconsciously) within architectural discourse and that recognizing it as such will not only allow us to reconsider historical narratives but will also give us a better understanding of our current fascinations and anxieties in regards to urbanization.

This book unearths strands of thought in the history of 20th-century architecture that actively endorsed and productively engaged with the formless metropolis. The works analyzed span almost an entire century: They range from August Endell’s urban optics and Karl Scheffler’s metropolitan architecture in Berlin, through Reyner Banham’s motorized vision of Los Angeles and Situationist performances in Paris, to OMA’s city architectures and Bernard Tschumi’s cinematic urbanisms. The aim is to construct new narratives that reposition architecture vis-à-vis the city. By uncovering architecture’s continuing interest in the formless city and elucidating our current fascination with and anxiety about ongoing urbanization, the book aims to reveal the “good metropolis” that was there all along.

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Twentieth-Century Architecture (The Project(s) of Modern Architecture), co-edited with David Leatherbarrow, vol. 4 in The Companions to the History of Architecture, ed. Harry Francis Mallgrave (Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017). A collection of essays on fifty selected projects from the history of 20th century architecture. The volume involves fifty authors and includes my introductions to three of the 6 chapters. Continue Reading →

Thanks to the Getty Foundation in LA for supporting the book project The Good Metropolis with the Library Research Grant. Summer 2016.

Graham Foundation awards Publication Grant to The Good Metropolis book project.


Chicagoisms makes Architecture Boston (AB) List of top books to read in 1914, followed by Koolhaas’ Delirious New York and Wolfe’s From Bauhaus to Our House.

Book Reviews of Chicagoisms in Dwell, Chicago Reader, the Mexican journal Arquine, and the German magazines Wohnrevue and Umriss.


Book launch event with panel discussion and reception at the Graham Foundation, April 5, 2014, 2pm.

Introduction by Sarah Herda (Director, Graham Foundation), followed by a lecture on the publication by Eisenschmidt, talks by Penelope Dean, Ellen Grimes, Sam Jacob, and Mark Linder, and a closing panel discussion moderated by Jonathan Mekinda.

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Chicago Reader publishes interview and book review of “Chicagoisms.”


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Contributing author and lead-editor of Chicagoisms: The City as Catalyst for Architectural Speculation (Zürich: Scheidegger & Spiess/Park Books, 2013).

Chicagoisms is a collection of essays on the various roles that Chicago has played as a catalyst for the exchange of urban and architectural ideas. In a series of original essays, a diverse roster of distinguished and emerging historians, theorists, curators, and architects explores the different ways that Chicago has influenced the evolution of the architectural discourse in the US and around the world. The book involves 28 authors in a collective interrogation of Chicago as a springboard for architectural and urban speculation. The aim is to instigate a new way of thinking about the city’s influence on the global architectural discourse. Contributions include: a preface by Stanley Tigerman; essays by Penelope Dean, John Harwood, David Haney, Mark Linder, Igor Marjanović, Joanna Merwood-Salisbury, and Albert Pope; project commentaries by William Baker, Barry Bergdoll, Aaron Betsky, Robert Bruegmann, Pedro Gadanho, Ellen Grimes, Sandy Isenstadt, Sam Jacob, Sylvia Lavin, Mark Lee, Andres Lepik, David Lewis, Bart Lootsma, Winy Maas, John McMorrough, Brett Steele, Kazys Varnelis, Sarah Whiting, and Mirko Zardini; as well as my essay, “No Failure Too Great,” a commentary on the circle interchange, entitled “Automatic Urbanism,” and the introduction “Chicago as Idea” (co-authored with Jonathan Mekinda). Published by Scheidegger & Spiess / Park Books, the volume was first presented at the Frankfurt and the Leipzig Book Fair in 2013. It is available in stores worldwide and in the US through distribution by the University of Chicago Press. You can order it here.

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City Catalyst: Architecture in the Age of Extreme Urbanization is now also available for iPad.

Book Launch of City Catalyst at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (September 22, 2012, 1pm) and Launch Party at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Architecture (October 5, 2012, 6pm).


AD Cover (Eisenschmidt) copy

Guest-editor and author of City Catalyst: Architecture in the Age of Extreme Urbanization, Architectural Design, # 219 (September/October 2012).

The discipline’s failure to engage the city productively has devastating consequences that simultaneously diminish the role of architecture and trivialize the city. This issue of AD, then, proposes a new architecture–city relationship beyond outright resistance or unconditional embrace. It suggests rethinking the city as a catalytic realm of invention and a space of possibilities. Contributors include: Kunlé Adeyemi/NLE, Edward Denison, Sarah Dunn and Martin Felsen/UrbanLab, Keller Easterling, Daniela Fabricius, Adriaan Geuze/West 8, Sean Lally/Weathers, Jesse LeCavalier, Jürgen Mayer H, Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss/Normal Architecture Office, OMA, Kyong Park, Albert Pope, Michelle Provoost and Wouter Vanstiphout/Crimson, Robert Somol, Ron Witte/WW, Yoshiharu Tsukamoto/Atelier Bow-Wow, and Bernard Tschumi (interview by Alexander Eisenschmidt). Including my contributions: “Stranger the Fiction: A Mission Statement” (introduction), “The City’s Architectural Project: From Formless City to Forms of Architecture,” and “Importing the City into Architecture: A Conversation with Bernard Tschumi” (interview). You can order it here.

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The Formless Metropolis and Its Potent Negativity, University of Pennsylvania, School of Design, Dissertation, 2008.

The dissertation investigates the concept of the “formless” city in the German architectural discourse on the modern Großstadt. It shows how the formless was not only a byproduct of the metropolis and an undercurrent throughout the early twentieth century but that it stimulated the modern architectural discourse and pervaded throughout modernity. Continue Reading →

The dissertation, The Formless Metropolis and Its Potent Negativity, was awarded the Graham Foundation Carter Manny Award Trustees’ Merit Citation, 2006.