In the mid 1970s, architecture found itself in a dire situation – unpopular, out of step with the times, alienated from a changing society. Within two decades, the status of the discipline dramatically improved: architecture became a cultural leader, celebrated by the media and courted by local politicians and developers. The transformation in the fortunes of the discipline was generated by architecture’s embracement of the ideal, and specifi cally by the turn to autonomy, a turn that had already begun during the decline of modernism. Autonomy proved to be an unexpected ally of architecture, and aided the discipline in coming to terms with the emerging post-Fordist order in the West.