Today I / were to talk about architecture, / would say that 1 is a ritual rather than a creative piss. I say this fully understanding the bitterness and the conicri of the ritual. Rituals give us the comfort of contintllly, of repetition, conyeIling us to an oblique forgetfulness, allowing us 10 We with every change which, because of its inability to evolve, constitutes a destruction. 'great things are no longer possible' The brooding sentiment quoted above was taken from Aldo Rossi's Scientific Autobiography. In it is the expression of a rather un-modern disposition: not here the proud heroism of a Howard Roark, literary personification of the revolutionary spirit which so marked the treatises and manifestos of the first half of this century. Instead, a somber reticence; seemingly, a question put to that very model of the architect as creative instigator of progressive social change. Rossi's melancholic Memory offers occasion for an inquiry of a more reflexive nature. One of the questions which will be raised is why this model of the architect as co-author of change no longer thrives as a vital paradigm of architectural work. If architecture since the time of Claude-Nicolas Ledoux has had to take on the irrevocable responsibility of searching for programs of human life at the same time as responding to such programs, what happens when human reason comes to doubt in the most profound way its'own integrity--its capacity to engender those very programs of a 'better' future? From amongst the many possible routes to this question, I will focus on the change in the attitude towards change which heralds the 'end of modernity. For certainly one of the more substantial and profound articulations of 'post-modernity' lies in the understanding that the paradigm of time (and hence that of the goal and meaning of thought and action) which had overtly guided human affairs during the last two centuries, no longer holds as an unquestioned foundation. This is a temporality whose futureoriented movement is accomplished by 'revolutionary' acts, by the logic of 'critique', 'crisis': a paradoxically linear time which Hannah Arendt, for one, has identified with the ground of modern knowledge, politics and technique. The idea of the 'avant-garde' is its supreme expression in the realm of art and architecture. The focus of this paper, in short, turns about the status of 'change' in modem thought and politics and its implication in the perception of the architect's social function since the end of 18th century. This notion of change, and of the architect as author of change, offers an illuminating context for examining a number of more current trains of thought in architecture. In taking varying critical stances towards that model, the latter offer vivid dramatizations of problematic but seemingly ineluctible dilemmas confronting the architect in this role.