Another way Mr. Vidler and his cohort broke with their field was with their interest in shaping architecture as it was being practiced around them. Soon after he arrived in the United States from England in the mid-1960s, he joined the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, an organization, led by the American architect Peter Eisenman, that sought among other things to bring new social and cultural ideas into architecture.
Their efforts were successful: Around the same time that writers and scholars like Mr. Vidler were trying to bring theory into architecture, a generation of architects, among them Rem Koolhaas, Wolf Prix and Bernard Tschumi, was eager to receive it.
“His ability to look at the very big picture with an incredible informed eye both philosophically and visually was fascinating,” said Mr. Tschumi, who first encountered Mr. Vidler’s work while teaching at the Architecture Association, a school in London, and who later designed major buildings in New York, including Alfred J. Lerner Hall at Columbia and the Blue Condominium on the Lower East Side. “It certainly had an influence on me.”
Anthony Vidler was born on July 4, 1941, in Mere, a town about 100 miles southwest of London, and raised in and around the town of Shenfield in Essex, to the northeast. His father, Stafford, was a surveyor, and his mother, Enid (Yardley) Vidler, was a homemaker.
As a very young child, Anthony witnessed a German air raid on a nearby city. That experience, he later said, helped spark his interest in the impact of social and political change on architecture.
So did his perambulations, by bicycle, across the Essex countryside. An adept sketch artist, he would park himself beside a ruined church or an old farmhouse for hours, taking in, with his drawing pad, the way the structure fit within its surroundings.