Looking back at my work of the sixties which had been labeled as “Architectural Fantasies”, “Visionary Architecture”, etc., I attempted then and I continue to do so today, to resist the conventional interpretations of what represents the historic manifestations of architecture. I draw my inspirations mostly from domains outside the context of “buildings”; accidental imagery of ordinary constructs, machines, formations of abstracted landscapes and the poetic vision of literary texts. While the futurists envisioned the machine as a spectacle of salvation and progress, for me machines represent constructs of utmost precision and strategical logic. In juxtaposing and transplanting machines into landscapes they undergo a radical transformation in becoming architecture. If the precision of mechanical constructs can still be detected in my work of drawings and edifices it reflects my commitment to exercise uncompromising clarity in the tectonic formations of architecture.
Monuments are not made. They arise by the force of poetic events, to bear witness “that beauty to be found once more when space and time have passed”－－Elias Canetti More specifically, architecture can only be understood as a polarity between geometric and physiological space or as a collision between the ideal and matter, and while the ideal represents the notion of infinity or, let us say, the eternal, matter can be regarded as the symbolic representation of the body –its presence and its absence. To put it in other words, while man’s conceptual powers aspire to the infinite, his body is essentially fragile, temporal, a corpus which will be laid to waste, like material itself, by the unremitting action of time. If there remains any hope for recreating the iconic in the modern world, then surely this will only come from a reinterpretation of the archetypal existence of man; that is to say, new icons cannot possibly be established on the basis of motifs drawn or transposed from lost historical epochs. New icons will either come from a recognition of our intrinsic ontological limits or they will not arise at all.
如海德格爾所說：德語“場地”（Ort ）一詞原意是長矛的尖----無限小但有力，所有的力和矢量都集中在一點，然后通過一種由能量到物質的神秘轉化而釋放。這種轉化即是場地作為場所的歷史。對這種力量的認知轉化為一種對事件、場所、時間的記憶，進而成為永遠變化的現實的定義和確認。 當建筑的要素變成記憶的觸發劑時，這種從場所的歷史中得來的對空間事件的記憶就通過建筑語言的抽象得到理想化。 自由組合的象征及圖像決定建筑語言的一種客觀極限，對文學性的描述方式提出挑戰----拒絕文學表現式的戲劇化。建筑成為了歷史組合中的理想化語言，而理想是一種極為清晰的形式。過去，作為歷史神話或歷史記錄的體現是不可消逝的，它通過空間和時間的片斷揭示自己，記憶由此轉化為空間事件。
建筑的元素定義了場所的空間結構，通過與事件、場所的物質和歷史的漸變進行思辨式的對抗，這些元素變化為一種隱喻，試圖對記憶進行具有普遍性的解釋：埋藏/挖掘/分離/分割/穿透/碰撞/終結/門/ 軸線/ 通道/ 張力/ 調和等等。這些隱喻，能無限組合成為建筑中的基本的東西。將隱喻譯為建筑形式的過程通過持續對抗式的思辨成為一個平衡張力的過程，它導致對一個自主的理想形式的領域的發現。
The etymological origin of the German Ort (site), according to Heidegger, means the tip of a lance –infitely small but mighty by its power to encompass and condense, where all forces and vectors are concentrated to be liberated and released through a mysterious transformation of energy into matter, of image into built form. This transformation becomes the history of the site as place, while the cognition of forces and vectors becomes the memory of events, temporary sediments of place and time, definition and confirmation of an ever-changing reality. The manifestation of the memory of spatial events from the history of the site is idealized through the abstraction of the language of architecture, while the elements of architecture become the catalysts for the process of memory. Interpretors, limited by narrative conventions of content, ought to be challenged by free associations with symbols and images that determine the objective limits of the architectural language –to resist the theatrics of narrative representations. Architecture becomes the idealized language of historical associations whereby ideal ought to be defined as a form of radical clarity. The past as a representation of historical myth or historical documentation can neither be conquered nor erased: it reveals itself through the fragments of space and time. Memory is transformed into spatial events.
The architectural elements, which define the spatial structure of the site through continuous dialectical confrontations with the physical and historical morphology of events and places, are transmuted into metaphors to attempt a universal interpretation of memory: burial/ excavation/ separation/ division/ penetration/ collision/ terminal/ gates/ axes/ cuts/ pathways/ tension/ reconciliation. This limited selection of universally interpretable metaphors, which permits an infinite choice of associations while it defies narrative interpretations, becomes the essential foundation of the architectural concept of paradigms. The process of translating this metaphorical program into the language of architectural forms should should lead to the recognition of the autonomous domains of ideal form and ideal use without a predetermined attempt of reconciliation, but through a continuous process of dialectical confrontation: equilibrium through tension.
While the ideal of architectural form demands contemplation, utility obeys the habit and necessities of human existence.
石匠要理解切割石頭的本質，他必須是一個勘測者和地質學家。建筑師在繪圖時也應意識到紙面就是場地（site），就是地形（landscape）。建筑繪圖是不可以渲染的，相反，它是一種對形式表達的語法上的建造。它不是走向建筑的一步，它本身就是建筑。 我將對場地的介入和平衡的打破作為建筑設計中的重要事件（圖3）。設計則是接下來的一個調和的舉動。我建的房子不多，但我實踐建筑學的原則。在設計中，我不相信一個預設的現實（preconcieved reality）我相信主觀的東西，理想的建筑就是要突破我們習慣性的思維尺度。
If you choose a position of resistance, independence and uncompromising passion in architecture, you are automatically marginalized by an increasingly corporate society, and so are schools of architecture, like Cooper Union, which share and celebrate this position.
For me, architecture is not a profession, but a discipline, and a school of architecture is not a place to prepare students for professional enterprises, but a forum for intellectual discourse and resistance: resistance against teachers, ideologies, and the gurus of the newest fashions. And whether or not there is a crisis in our schools, we cannot separate the crisis within the discipline of architecture from the crisis in architectural education. On the other hand it is too easy to accept the generalization of critical conditions, maybe because there is no crisis in architecture or in the education of architects, but rather a crisis of architects, educators and students who have succumbed to the seduction of professionalism. When Wittgenstein said: “A teacher may get good, even astounding, results from his pupils while he is teaching them and yet not be a good teacher; because it may be that, while his pupils are under his direct influence, he raises them to a height which is not natural to them, without fostering their own capacities for work at his level, so that they immediately decline again, as soon as the teacher leaves the classroom”, you may assume that I am one of those teachers. Either we try to teach the students the necessity to challenge first the limits of their imagination, to envision the impossible and to think as far as their thoughts can carry them, or we deny them the only thing worthwhile teaching: the poetics of architecture. A moment in history, when the term “originality” ought to be redefined, when the artist as an iconoclast is forced to cut through the accumulated sediments of history, to reach again the origins of all things. Occurrence against appearance. For me modern architecture is the irreversible termination of styles. Architecture can only be understood as a polarity between geometric and physiological space or as a collision between the ideal and the matter. But while the ideal represents the notion of infinity, matter can be regarded as the finite representation of the body.
Forthe stonemason to understand the nature of cutting stone, he ought to be a surveyor and a geologist. The architect when he draws has to be aware that the paper he draws on becomes a site, a landscape, and that the pencil he is using can either cut lines into the landscape or built up graphite, depending on how hard or how soft the pencil’s lead is. An architectural drawing can never be rendered. On the contrary it ought to be constructed to reveal the syntax of its formal manifestation. Drawing for me is like an event of making architecture itself, it fluctuates between the idea and the anticipation of the physical reality of built form. It is not a step toward architecture, it is architecture. I consider the violation of the site, the disturbance of its equilibrium, the primary event in making architecture. (figure 3) Design is the consequent act of reconciliation. I have built very little. But I practice the discipline of architecture. I don’t believe in a preconceived reality. I believe reality has to be made. We are talking about the dimension of the ideal architecture which can be confronted with the dimension of habitation, habitation in a metaphoric sense.
In the pragmatic world of developers and their lackeys who call themselves architects, the site for the tower, 25 feet wide and 80 feet deep, would be interpreted as a narrow lot, unfit for a profitable development; an argument used initially and finally by the government to deny the project its realization. As in all my work the reading and interpreting of the Site is the most crucial and essential condition to attempt its transformation and to define its intervention. Infinitely small but mighty in its power to encompass and to condense all vectors and forces, concentrated and to be liberated and released through a mysterious transformation of energy defined through the dichotomy of physiological verses geometrical space. Within the context of this particular site, this dialectical condition is manifested by the lateral compression of the void, defined by the weight and height of the neighboring buildings, and the geometrical definition of the zoning envelope, as defined by the building code. The tower rising autonomously between the existing walls of the adjacent structures, is defined by three syntactic elements, the Vertebra-Stair Tower, the Core-Structural Tower, the Mask-Glass Tower, signifying the counter forces of gravity: Ascension, Support and Suspension. Both the stair-tower as well as the curtain-wall thrive for infinity: the stair-tower vertically, the curtain-wall diagonally. While the stair-tower is raising, the curtain-wall is falling by suspended sheets of glass and metal.
There were two decisive issues for me in defining the material and geometric articulation of the curtain-wall. I have never been intrigued by the illusionary transparency of glass, but rather, like Mies van der Rohe, by its mineralogical origins: heavy and precise. To achieve the knife like cutting edge of its planes, all outer metal frames are mitered toward an infinitely small line. The angle of its ascending planes is derived from the angle of the zoning envelope. The tower itself can be defined as an interstice between the stair tower and the curtain-wall.
A symbolic decline of the builders and the profession of architects have effected the building technology in the USA. The lines of scrimmage have been shifted to newer challenges in the evolution of technology, while in Europe technology is still embedded in the tradition of craftsmanship. I believe it is the imperative obligation of the architect to inspire and challenge the builder to rediscover their aspirations and pride for precision in order to succeed in transforming the plans into built reality, independent of geography, economics and politics. The choice of reinforced concrete as the main structural system had been necessitated by the extreme ratio of width and height of the building. To be able to reduce the dimension of walls, beams and columns in order to provide optimal use of spaces and maximum transparency of the curtain-wall. To achieve the utmost precision for the steel and aluminum framing the glass fa?ade a prefabricated panel system (figure 4) had been chosen over the, in New York customary, stick system. It was produced by GIG of Austria, one of the leading curtain-wall manufacturers in the world.
這棟樓已經被比作圖騰柱、斷頭臺、銀翼殺手（Blade Runner）或是復活節島雕塑（Easter Island Sculpture）。這都是觀者自發的想象而不是建筑師的初衷。一個25英尺寬280 英尺高的細塔，成了一個很極端的形式，與周圍的樓形成強烈對比。它的力量來自它的纖細、它的清晰和刀鋒般的立面（圖6）。
The tower of the Austrian Cultural Forum has been compared to a “totem pole”, a “guillotine”, to“blade runner” or “Easter island sculpture”: All associations triggered by the imagination of the viewer and never intended by the architect. A vertical slice 25 feet wide and 280 feet tall, became a deliberate manifestation of utmost formal reduction, challenging the indigenous variations of the surrounding buildings while the symmetrical spinal structure of its mask reflects necessity, not choice. Its power lies in its smallness, its radical clarity and its knife-like cutting edge, challenging the normalcy of the existing city-scape (figure 6).
While a skyscraper reaches for the clouds the tower reverses its gravitational direction, by suspending its tectonic layers:
“The lateral compression
of the site
defines the latency
of its vertical thrust.
Three elementary towers:
The Vertebra/ Stair Tower
The Core/ Structural Tower
The Mask/ Glass Tower.
counterforces of gravity:
The Vertebra- Ascension
The Core- Support
The Mask- Suspension.
The entire Tower
on the cavity
of its public spaces”
--Raimund Abraham, 1991
The project for the “Monument of Aviation” had been inspired by the following poem by James Laughlin and by my theoretical investigations of “collisions”:
“You know our office on the 18th
floor of the Salmon Tower looks
right out on the
Empire State and it just happened
we were there finishing up some
late invoices on
a new book that Saturday morning
when a bomber roared through the
mist and crashed
flames poured from the windows
into the drifting clouds and sirens
screamed down in
the streets below it was unearthly
but you know the strangest thing
we realized that
none of us were much surprised
because we’d always known that those
two paragons of
progress sooner or later would
perform before our eyes this
demonstration of their
--James Laughlin, New York, 1945
演進是一個創造性的過程，一種基本品質的變化，尊重記憶也預期未來。 中國的發展似乎并非如此。 在來自全世界的商業建筑師的幫助下，進行著對過去的文化系統性的破壞，忽視了對其居住者的基礎設施、類型和場所的關注。而能解決這一問題的也只有中國人自己。
Transformation is a creative process, a metamorphosis of the essential qualities of that which is to be transformed, respecting its memory while anticipating the new, the unpredictable. What is happening in China today is just the opposite. It amounts to a systematic destruction of an ancient culture by neglecting the infrastructure, typology and topography of its habitat, assisted by mercenary architects from all over the world. Who can save China? The Chinese!
雷蒙.亞伯拉罕，1933年出生于奧地利Tyrol地區的Lienz，但作為一個建筑師他從1964年起在美國從事實踐和教學。作為六十年代維也納前衛建筑師的代表，他的作品與Hans Hollein及Water Pichler的作品于1967年在紐約的現代藝術館展出。
“對于亞伯拉罕，歷史是一個不可逆轉的展開，沒有一種文化能基于歷史主義或其衍生物。另一方面，不同于英雄主義時期的先鋒，他從不認同進化的神話。像Van Eyck一樣，他認為人的存在保留有不變的、來自原初的狀態（unchanging archetypal condition），而真正的建筑的文化由此而來。亞伯拉罕認為他不同于先鋒之處在于它始終關注存在于人文意義之先的建筑本體。這種從本體出發的方法并不是要拒絕現代技術，也不會排除使用傳統材料的可能。它尋找一種建筑語匯的清晰表達。就如在密斯和Carlo Scarpa的作品中顯示的，新與舊，機器制造的和手工藝制造的在一種延續中共存。”----弗蘭普頓（Kenneth Frampton）