Architectural Criticism in Practice: From Affective to Effective Experience
journal article
“Although many artists and architects privilege phenomenological experience, they often offer the near-reverse: ‘experience’ handed back to us as ‘atmosphere’ or ‘affect’ - that is as environments that confuse the actual with the virtual, or feelings that are hardly our own yet interpolate us nonetheless. In the guise of our activation, some work even tends to subdue us, for the more it opts for special effects, the less it engages us as active viewers.“ (Foster, 2011)

The article that follows chronicles the evolution of the respective sub-fields of endeavor from the unique
perspectives of the authors and their cumulative involvements and experiences. Its main purpose is to
begin to bridge the gap between the affective and effective goals of architectural criticism (Attoe, 1989).In other words, the attempt will be made to connect the perceived vs. measured quality of the designed
and built environment, including visual-aesthetic quality. The result is an entirely new form of criticism that is instructive as both a tool to professionals and an explication of the built environment to the
layperson beyond aesthetic platitudes. Because of its cumulative nature, the2-part literature review
is not intended to be exhaustive since that can be gleaned from a sample of authoritative publications on the evolution of: 1. Architectural Criticism: On Architecture: Collected Reflections on a Century of Change by Huxtable (Walker, 2010), Why Architecture Matters by Goldberger (Yale University Press, 2003), and After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History by Danto (Princeton University Press, 1997); 2. Post-Occupancy Evaluation/Building Performance Evaluation: Enhancing Building Performance by Mallory-Hill, Preiser and Watson (Wiley, 2012); Learning From Our Buildings: A State-of the-Practice Summary of Post-Occupancy Evaluation by Federal Facilities Council (National Academy Press, 2001); and, Building Evaluation Techniques by Baird et al. (McGraw-Hill, 1996).
Davis, Aaron T. & Preiser, Wolfgang F.E. "Architectural Criticism in Practice: From Affective to Effective Experience," in ArchNet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, vol. 6, issue 2 (2012).
Parent Publications
Aaron T. Davis and Wolfgang F.E. Preiser
architectural criticism
architectural design
architectural education
building analysis and assessment