talk _ Jefferson University

Lecture on “The Good Metropolis” at Jefferson University, College of Architecture and the Built Environment, 6pm, September 21, 2020. 

research _ Award for Creative Activity

The Office of the Vice Chancellor of Research at UIC awarded Eisenschmidt the Creative Activity Prize for the book project Felix Candela in Chicago, 2020.

review _ Good Metropolis

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.”


Urban Spielräume exist at the threshold between the building volume and public space, where the city is inhaled into architecture and where architecture extends into the city —where one is infused by the other. It’s the space where architecture opens up to the city and invites alternative inhabitations. A catalog of these spaces from across the centuries became the basis for the drawing of a City of Spielräume, an urban scroll that thematizes the different spatial conditions.

City of Architectural Fiction

Journal of Architectural Education (JAE 72:1) published the “City of Architectural Fiction” drawing (previously on view at Lisbon Triennale, 2016) as part of the Discursive Image series.


Lecture, “The City as Visionary Project,” to the Urban Design Program at the Taubman College, University of Michigan, February 3, 2017, 6pm.

VC News

VC Project featured in UIC News


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.

talk _ Visionary at CAF

“A New Visionary;” lecture at the “Instruments for Urban Production” symposium in conjunction with the book launch of The Petropolis of Tomorrow and hosted at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, April 25, 2014, 6pm.


6a) Chicagoisms Exhibit

Co-organizer and curator of Chicagoisms exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, Kurokawa Gallery, April 24, 2014 – January 4, 2015. Exhibition design by Studio Offshore (Eisenschmidt) in collaboration with graphic designer Matthew Wizinsky.

120 images, nine models, and five principles. The exhibition builds on the premise of the book Chicagoisms. Revisiting the characteristics, attitudes, and mentalities of the city’s past, it mines the history of Chicago to define principles of architectural action and urban engagement: Vision Shapes History, Optimism Trumps Planning, Ambition Overcomes Nature, Technology Makes Spectacle, and Crisis Provokes Innovation. These Chicagoisms are also deployed here as springboards for new experiments as local and international teams of architects conceived visions inspired by the city that project as models from an array of historical imagery, together constructing a panorama of alternative urban worlds.

In collaboration with architectural historian Jonathan Mekinda and graphic designer Matthew Wizinsky, and with contributions by Bureau Spectacular, DOGMA, MVRDV, ORG, PORT, Sam Jacob Studio, Sean Lally/Weathers, UrbanLab, and WW.


Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 12.24.50 PM

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.



Designer and curator of City Works: Provocation for Chicago’s Urban Future exhibition at the City of Chicago’s Cultural Center – Expo 72 Gallery (72 E. Randolph Street, Chicago), May 24 – September 29, 2013.

City Works was previously exhibited at the 13th International Architecture Biennale in Venice (2012) and has now returned to the city of its origin. The exhibition re-envisions a series of urban environments that are typical for Chicago in order to examine alternatives to the way architecture engages the city. In collaboration with David Brown, Studio Gang Architects, Stanley Tigerman, and UrbanLab / Sarah Dunn & Martin Felsen (who each produced one large models 12’x3′), the installation sets out to find potentials for spatial, material, programmatic, and organizational invention within the city. The four models are surrounded by a 160′-long panorama that shows a visionary city … a drawing entirely composed of historical unbuilt visions for the city of Chicago (created by Eisenschmidt and his team at the Visionary Cities Project). In addition, an iPhone app links the visionary drawings on the wall to the existing city by locating the different schemes and presenting vital information about the projects. Over the duration of the exhibition, the models will travel throughout the gallery, visit the different parts of the city’s visionary history, and, finally, come together to create a new collective project of the city – one that is intended as Provocation for Chicago’s Urban Future.


The Visionary Cities Project developed an iPhone app in collaboration with Cheng+Snyder ( This app not only visualizes the large amount of visionary proposals for the city of Chicago but also accompanies the Visionary Chicago Panorama at the exhibition City Works in order to give access to the many projects in the drawing. While the panorama composes a parallel unbuilt city within the confines of the gallery, the iPhone app makes connections to the existing city outside. Here, knowledge about these schemes escapes the gallery and ventures into the city. It allows users to locate and visualize past utopian schemes while traveling through Chicago, with the goal of encouraging playful urban speculation in the present. Download the free iPhone app here.

Book Launch of City Catalyst at UIC

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.


Organizer and chair of the international conference on the state of visionary urbanism, in collaboration with and hosted at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, 10am-6pm, September 22, 2012 (over 200 attendees, 3 panels, 15 speakers, 3 moderators). Event is featured in full length at Radio WBEZ-NPR.

Architecture’s failure to engage the contemporary city will have devastating consequences that simultaneously diminish the role of architecture and trivialize the city. This symposium will, therefore, probe architecture’s ability to function once again as urban “vision maker.” After all, architecture and urbanism are by definition visionary; its drawings, animations, and scenarios are always an act of forecasting. They are about something that is not yet – a projective envisioning of a world to come. What at first sight might seem to run counter to the professionalism of architecture and urbanism could, in fact, revitalize these disciplines. Hence, the symposium calls on architects to enter the contemporary city with visions for the immediate urban future.


Chapter “Fantastisches Berlin. Die Entdeckung einer Neuen Metropole,” in August Endell 1871-1925: Architekt und Formkünstler, eds. Nicola Bröcker, Gisela Moeller, Christiane Salge (Berlin: Michael Imhof Verlag, 2012), 326-335; a collection of essays on the works of August Endell. Reviewed in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Kunstchronik.

6) Gropius, Sehen, 1955 copy




Designer and curator of City Works exhibition at the 13th International Architecture Biennale in Venice, Italy, August 27 – November 25, 2012.

Invited by David Chipperfield, director of the 13th Venice Biennale, Eisenschmidt designed and curated an exhibition that re-envisions a series of urban environments that are typical for Chicago in order to examine visionary alternatives to the way architecture and planning engage the city. The installation is a collaborative effort of 5 teams that involves a large model (12’x12′, produced by David Brown, Studio Gang, Stanley Tigerman, and UrbanLab) of a visionary Chicago as well as an encompassing drawing (100’ long) that creates a visual backdrop. The outside of the screen (produced by the Visionary Cities Project/Alexander Eisenschmidt) is a panorama of a Phantom Chicago, entirely composed of unbuilt visionary proposals for the city. …

essay _ URBAN FORM x3

Review of The Liberal Monument: Urban Design and the Late Modern Project, by Alexander D’Hooghe, Journal of Architectural Education, #65:2 (May 2012): 143-145.

interview _ NON-CONCEPT CITY

“The Non-Concept City,” a discussion on urbanism with Edward Mitchell, including Robert Bruegmann, Ellen Grimes, Tim Mennel, Jonathan Miller, organized by New Projects, Chicago, March 13, 2012. The exchange was published in the Journal of Architectural Education #66.1, October copy


Public lecture at The Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, February 7, 2012.

Chicago’s visionary unbuilt projects have proved to be of particular importance for the architectural discourse as a whole. The lecture, therefore, investigates some of the most spectacular proposals and asks what makes the city tick as a laboratory of ideas.


“Theorien der Raumanschauung und die Entstehung einer neuen Metropole,” was cited in Matthias Schirren’s article “Freiheit und Ordnung: Der Philharmonie Osteingang,” in Scharoun, exhibition catalog, 2011.


Invited Round table participant at Northwestern University, Chicago, December 3, 2010 (other participants: Barry Bergdoll, Andreas Beyer, Neil Levine, Martin Bressani, Robert Bruegmann, and Harry Mallgrave; organized by David Van Zanten).

conference _ INFORMAL CITIES

Colloquium chair and speaker, in collaboration with and hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, October 24, 2010 (participating speakers: Daniela Fabricius, Jiang Jun, Jesse LeCavalier). The colloquium is prompted by the exhibition Urban China, curated by Jiang Jun who is editor of the China-base magazine of the same name. The event sets out to detect global perspectives on the informal, not bound to a particular geography, economy, or period but, instead, defining the informal/formless city as a condition that is with us everywhere. It implies that the “informal” is always part of that strange environment we call “city.”

conference _ METROPOLIS

Panel chair at the ACSA West Central Fall Conference Flip your Field, University of Illinois at Chicago, October 21-23, 2010 (speakers included Michael Chen and Jason Lee, Daniela Fabricius, Jesse Le Cavalier, and Neyran Turan).Metropolis Panel


Speaker at the Once Upon a Place – International Conference on Architecture and Fiction, on the occasion of the Lisbon Triennial of Architecture, Lisbon, Portugal, October 12, 2010.


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. …

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