Charles Jencks obituary
Architectural historian, garden designer and writer who was regarded as the godfather of postmodernism
Charles Jencks, the architectural historian, patron of the Maggie’s Centres and designer of cosmic gardens, who has died aged 80, pinpointed the expiry of modernism to a precise moment in history. “Modern architecture died in St Louis, Missouri on July 15, 1972, at 3.32pm (or thereabouts),” he wrote, “when the infamous Pruitt-Igoe scheme, or rather, several of its slab blocks, were given the final coup de grace by dynamite.”
He was referring to the notorious failed housing estate , which he thought embodied everything that was wrong with the dogmatic principles of modern architecture and urban planning. In its place, he announced, would come the brave new epoch of “Post-Modern” architecture, a style of “radical eclecticism” that would return content, meaning and metaphor to the built environment. With his pithy, polemic writing, he saw to it over the coming decades that the style wars were never far from the headlines.