cover of architect verb

Reinier de Graaf’s Architect, Verb Explores Myth and Meaning

The OMA partner’s third book traces the history and terms that dominate architectural discourse today.

“Architecture, it seems, has landed on the wrong side of history,” writes Dutch architect Reinier de Graaf in the introduction to his new book Architect, Verb. De Graaf, who is also a partner in the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), states that while the industry confronts the most pressing issues of our time (economic inequality, climate change, and human rights), “the discipline has not made a good showing.”

With dry wit, humor, and honesty, the architect sets out to debunk the myths of contemporary architecture by asking questions like “Who determines how to measure a ‘green building’?” and “Why is Vancouver more livable than Vienna?” Through these questions he challenges industry buzzwords such as “starchitecture,” “livability,” and “sustainability,” among other trendy terms. In a satirical appendix to the book, de Graaf includes a section titled “The Principles of Profspeak,” a word he loosely characterizes as a “testament to the promiscuity of jargon” and “semantic opportunism at its best.” When it comes to terms like “evidence-based design,” “green,” and “wellness,” what do they really mean? And more important, who determines their meaning? 

headshot of reinier de graaf
Reinier de Graaf (1964, Schiedam) is a Dutch architect and writer. He is a partner in the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) and the co-founder of its think-tank AMO. Reinier is the author of Four Walls and a Roof: The Complex Nature of a Simple Profession and the novel The Masterplan. He lives in Amsterdam.
Architect, Verb: The New Language of Building by Reinier de Graaf Verso, 272 pp., $26.95.

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