Specifically, Rowe says:
"…Le Corbusier is, in some ways, the most catholic and ingenious of eclectics. …with Le Corbusier there is always an element of wit suggesting that the historical (or contemporary) reference has remained a quotation between inverted commas, possessing always the double value of the quotation, the associations of both old and new context.
Hoesli, meanwhile, was a virtuoso at devising formal exercises that could introduce complex notions of three-dimensional space, reinforcing Rowe’s and Slutzky’s take on Gyorgy Kepes’s notions of spatial “transparencies,” both literal and phenomenal, in two-dimensional painting, which they had been developing into an important text on spatial sensibilities in architecture. What is important to note is that, in their application of Kepes’s theories, Rowe, Slutzky, and especially Hoesli had no intention of limiting the phenomenon to modern spatial organization; their examples included the Ca’ d’Oro, Alberti, Palladio, and Michelangelo.
The “cube” exercise, with its many variants, was developed primarily by Seligmann and Rowe during their time at Texas. It was to be a studio lesson in the potentials of “phenomenal transparency”: the concept that the perception of multiple, overlapping spatial figures—each vying for its own contiguous territory for completion—can be resolved only by perceiving the ambiguity that results from the fluctuating simultaneity of a multiplicity of superimposed spaces. At the scale of a building, this means that one could “occupy” more than one space at any given moment, and that circulating through these spaces causes them to constantly transform and redefine their boundaries.
The exercise became a staple of both Seligmann’s and Hoesli’s core teaching: first, three planes would be used to imply a cube, generated from its interior; then, four or more of the exterior surfaces of a cube would be cut so as to indicate the presence of other, implied cubes within; eventually, surface planes could be displaced inward, new planes inserted, and so on. Ultimately, the interplay of interior and exterior elements would produce a complex, three-dimensional fugue saturated with phenomenal transparencies.
Both Hoesli and Rowe, along with some of the other faculty hired by Harris—Robert Slutzky, John Hejduk, Lee Hodgden, John Shaw, and others—strongly influenced the young teacher, both in terms of philosophy and methodology. And many, especially Hoesli, Rowe, Hodgden, and Shaw, would remain close colleagues for many years to come, Hoesli primarily at the ETH in Zurich, though with frequent visits to Cornell, and the others at Cornell in Ithaca.
The Pedagogy of Architecture, the Architecture of Pedagogy
Given the immediacy of his own education and career in teaching, architectural design and pedagogy were inextricably associated for Werner Seligmann. In regarding his design work, one might even argue that it is not always the architecture per se that is most significant—although the works range from the elegant to the virtuoso—but rather his career in architecture and the parallel career in pedagogy, that consistently engenders a didactic architecture.
Introduction page 8