What's the architects' role in broader cultural society? Should they be more utopian or rather pragmatic? The profession’s underlying idealism came under attack by factors like the broadening of turbo-capitalism, consumerism and shortsighted politics. Since the mid-90ies, young architects seemed to be bored by architectural theory - they simply want to build. "They wanted to (and could, with an improved economy) get to work on real projects, real conditions, real places; they wanted to be ambitious without being dreamy, to improve bits of the world without self-aggrandizing delusions." (The New Architectural Pragmatism, William S. Saunders, p. viii) Don’t think: build!
The book brings up today's goals of architectural practices: efficacy, innovation and realism. While efficacy seems generic (for the author this means that architects are politically credible again), innovation and realism are clear: Innovation is the desire of being new and unexpected – not in technical aspects like durability or energy efficiency but in form (see "12 reasons to get back in shape" by Robert Somol, in Content, OMA / Rem Koolhaas, p. 86). Realism, however, results from architecture's production environment: architecture is rather a handcraft than a bourgeois, gentlemen's profession.
The book features articles by Alejandro Zaera-Ppolo, Robert Somol, Sarah Whiting, Philippe Stark, K. Michael Hays, Roemer van Toorn and more. Maybe architecture get’s meaty again!
The New Architectural Pragmatism, William S. Saunders, Editor
A Harvard Design Magazine Reader, 2007