Thursday, October 25, 2012

Eyesores

So today I check out out James Kunslter’s Eyesore of the month, and what do I find but our Amsterdam washtub featured here a while back.

While I’d like to flatter myself by thinking that James reads this site, or that someone forwarded him my commentary, in reality it’s probably just the sheer awfulness of this building that attracted the attention we both paid to it. Still, it would be cool if I played a part.

And since we’re on the subject, check out the New Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland by Farshid Moussavi:




Again, what are these disjoined shard “objects” telling us about our society? That we’re atomized individuals with opaque faces and a “don’t get too close, or you’’ll get cut” attitude? That there is no common social context or purpose?  Note that the tallest building in Europe is actually called "The Shard." I think I featured this before: The Shard Is The Perfect Metaphor For Modern London (Guardian). Remember when the grandest buildings in a community were civic buildings?

What's sad is that there are probably tons of beautiful pre-war buildings that are probably in various states of disrepair and falling apart all over town. If Cleveland is anything like Milwaukee, these old buildings occupy the best, most vibrant areas of town, and have gone through many lifetimes and changes of use. The building I work in was built as an unloading place for ships with factories upstairs. Today it has businesses in the lowest floor, with condos above, including a two-story addition with some of the most desirable real estate in the city (Brandon Jennings of the Packers just moved out). Can anyone imagine the above building being retrofitted for any other purpose? Instead, in modern times, we get this:


What is it? A business school, of course (Case Western Weatherhead School of Management). I wonder if their management graduates are as warped as the building they inhabit.

Look, there's an ocean of difference between endlessly repeating the classical forms of Greek and Roman architecture and this crud. Modernism, in its early stages recognized that, and had the potential to create dynamic new forms that utilized the best of new technology without creating pieces of mad inhabited sculpture springing from no context except the mind of the "genius" architect who has never had a draw a detail in his or her life. That will be the topic of a future essay.

P.S. Note also this previous entry - a "high tech" campus for Roosevelt Island in New York City. Bonus LOL:

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