Lebbeus Woods, the visionary draftsman and educator considered by many to be the conscience of the architectural profession, died at home in New York City on Tuesday morning at the age of seventy-two. The causes were natural, but observers could hardly fail to note that his death came with Hurricane Sandy’s inundating waters still flooding New York. No architect had devoted more energy to the consequences of catastrophic urban failure than Woods.
The last of the great paper architects, Woods achieved cult-idol status among architects for his post-apocalyptic landscapes of dense lines and plunging perspectives. Deconstructivist in the most literal of ways, they were never formalist exercises. Instead, they conveyed the architect’s deep reservations as to the nature of contemporary society, and particularly its penchant for violence. He eschewed practice, claiming an interest in architectural ideas rather than the quotidian challenges of commercial building. “I want to address problems that clients are not commissioning architects to address,” he said in a 2002 interview.