Roving architect, artist, and educator Lebbeus Woods has amassed three decades' worth of his tumultuous, fantastical work at his new website, lebbeuswoods.net, which amounts to a one-man museum without walls. “I look at it as more of an archive,” says Woods. “There are lots and lots of projects that hadn't been published.”
This electrifying trove includes drawings and models of Woods' theoretical constructions. Over time, Woods' precarious architecture has described the known world as vulnerable terra incognita and concerned itself not so much with buildings as with the latent spaces and—cryptically—unseen forces among them, us, and the groundscape. The site indexes his projects by year, letting you view designs that serve as provocative rejoinders to war in Sarajevo, disaster in San Francisco, disjuncture in Havana, or bourgeois stasis in Vienna. You can also see designs for which he's found patrons bold enough to build at enormous scales—most recently, an explosive stabile planned for a Steven Holl tower in Chengdu, China. Projects from studios at Cooper Union, where Woods is an architecture professor, and elsewhere are archived as well.
The most active section is Woods' blog, which he's developing as an opinion forum for readers in the belief that architectural criticism is dead. Woods' posts and the vigorous comments that follow confront the issue head-on (although all but the sharpest eyes may find the gray type on a white background hard to read). “Without [criticism],” Woods says, “the field kind of flattens out. There's nothing to learn except to look at pictures. There's no real exchange or thought.”
Woods—who had help assembling the site from colleagues Christoph Kumpusch, a fellow professor at Cooper Union, and Christof Lang in Austria—hopes his viewers will build from the body of research that lebbeuswoods.net makes available and use it in their own work, but the text and images are poach-proof. In the '90s, Woods had to sue the producers of the film 12 Monkeys for appropriating his work for their sets in what he calls “a clear case of copyright infringement.” He won six figures and a film credit. If researchers would like to cite examples of his work, Woods says, he'd be pleased to send images—as long as requesters note the source.