The following is a text excerpt from a recent architecture review of Peter Eisenman's Palladio Virtuel, an exhibition on the work of Andrea Palladio that took place at Yale University School of Architecture during the Fall of 2012. This exhibition review was published in Yale's Constructs semester publication. 

Eisenman’s Palladian Virtuality: Ahistoric Parametric Undecidability (excerpt)

by Pablo Lorenzo-Eiroa

How do Peter Eisenman and Matthew Roman  turn an exhibition on Andrea Palladio into an architectural exercise? Will this exhibition trigger another neo-Palladianism? Why in 2012? What is the contemporary relevance of the installation at the Yale School of Architecture, currently dominated by use of the computer in architectural representation? Why does Eisenman think Palladio was not a Mannerist? And finally, how far do the consequences of such a negation go?

Eisenman and Roman address different aspects of these questions from the moment a visitor enters the space. Expecting to see drawings or models, the viewer first experiences an architectural exercise that opens up various dimensions of architectural representation. While reading Palladio’s work differently and activating another neo-Palladianism may seem out of time, this exhibition comes to us when historic disciplinary precedents have been replaced by an ahistoric architecture, one that has substituted culture with technological progress, understanding precedence by displacing the structure of the latest computational algorithm.

Palladio’s influence has shifted historically in relation to the reading of his architecture, making relevant both his work and that of architects who project different understandings of his oeuvre. These readings have shifted from stylistic emulation, displacing architecture signification, to a parametric coding and organizational methodologies implicit or projected in Palladio’s spatial arrangements. Historians have identified Palladio as a Mannerist architect in that he displaced Renaissance canons, opening up the field for the Baroque. Eisenman analyzes a challenging quality in the relative autonomy of Palladio’s building’s parts relative to the whole , which seems to contradict the mere displacement of a clearly structured whole, separating his work from a Mannerist attitude. Architectural historian Rudolph Wittkower’s analysis of Palladio’s villas recognized an underlying displaced whole, which became canonical in revealing a nine-square pattern common to eleven of his villas. This well-accepted thesis is the most important structuralist assumption that Eisenman questions. However, Eisenman, himself a radical architect and a continuous critical innovator, develops this exhibition devoid from historicism by introducing a close reading that implies a historical reformulation difficult to dismiss and implying many consequences. One of these may go as far as to reformulate certain commonly assumed fundamentals of Eisenman’s own project.

"Eisenman’s Palladian Virtuality: Ahistoric Parametric Undecidability" Pablo Lorenzo-Eiroa, Constructs, Ed. Nina Rappaport, Yale Architecture, Spring 2013.