Architectural Monstrosities in New York
Posted 07 February 2007 - 03:48 PM
Arthur Hugh Clough, 1819-1861
Arise ye prisoners of starvation
Arise ye wretched of the earth
Posted 07 February 2007 - 03:49 PM
Posted 07 February 2007 - 04:15 PM
Then please, by all means, enlighten us on the meaning, social commentary and cultural values that make that building more than an eyesore. I think Arquitectonica's style is ideally suited to Miami, but out of place in NY. I normally love modern architecture and vivdly remember loving the Spear House when it was first published..
Architecture is about more than aesthetics, though (although that is what strikes us first.) It's also about meaning, social commentary and cultural values that change over time.
Nicolai Ouroussoff agrees with me:
Clearly we are not critiquing it in a scholarly way, but waiting for 20 years for architectural critics to contextualize it wouldn't suit the time frame for this discussion.
The way I see it, Arquitectonica has owed New York a decent building. That firm built its reputation with a series of projects in its hometown, Miami, that mixed bold forms and alluring surfaces at bargain prices. But in New York it has produced only clunkers. Its Westin Hotel tower on Eighth Avenue defines cheapness: a collage of gaudy colors with a long, illuminated arc scratched across its facade.
Posted 07 February 2007 - 04:19 PM
A survey of Americans' favorite 150 buildings and structures placed the gild-encrusted Italianate behemoth with its choreographed fountains at a lofty No. 22 on the list, tucked between Philadelphia City Hall and New York's Saint John the Divine Cathedral.
"The Bellagio -- I can't believe it," bellows Edward Feiner, a director of the Washington, D.C., office of top corporate architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which has five buildings on the list. "The Bellagio is tasteless."
In the eyes of other beholders, though, the Bellagio is an icon, elevated to that status in a survey commissioned by the American Institute of Architects to suss out how Americans feel about their architecture. In conjunction with its 150th anniversary, the Washington trade group asked Harris Interactive to develop a survey of 2,000 ordinary Americans. They were shown photographs and asked to rate 247 buildings nominated by 2,500 architects in various categories.
Some of the results weren't shocking: the Empire State Building was No. 1, the White House No. 2. But others were surprising. The National Cathedral in Washington, well known but certainly not an icon, came in No. 3, beating out the Golden Gate Bridge (5), the U.S. Capitol (6) and William Van Allen's Chrysler Building in New York (9). Also on the list: Apple Inc.'s new glass cube of a store on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue (53).
The ratings, as well as Mr. Feiner's reaction, reveal the tension between architecture as personal expression and public art, between form that pleases those who look at a building and function that nurtures those who use it.
Architects, not surprisingly, dismiss the survey. Others observe the natural conflicts among what architects want to build, what clients force them to build, and what people eventually see.
Some architects are more dismissive. Mark Robbins, dean of architecture at Syracuse University, says the survey "reinforces one's sense that the general public's knowledge of architecture is still limited to things that are big and have columns or have a lot of colored lights." He says the list reminds him of the Zagat guides to restaurants, which rely on customer submissions. "It's only as good as the people who send in reviews. When I lived in Columbus, Ohio, Applebee's was in Zagat's."
To be sure, the poll isn't a true reflection of how people interact and appreciate a building. Respondents were shown static photographs of each building online and were asked to rate them on a scale of one to five. "Buildings unfold in time and space and can't really be understood from a flat pictorial way," says Mr. Robbins.
And architects complain that some keystone buildings in U.S. history are missing from the list. Richard Meier -- whose spare, white designs appear five times on the list with buildings such as the Getty Center in Los Angeles (No. 95), more than any other living architect -- calls the results "fascinating." But, he adds, "many of these things on the list are places people go and enjoy themselves, but I wouldn't consider them works of architecture." He finds it "very curious" that such Modernist architectural standards as Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe's Seagram Building in New York and Farnsworth House in Plano, Ill., aren't on the top 150, nor is Philip Johnson's Glass House, in New Canaan, Conn.
Other notable no-shows: Frank Lloyd Wright's Johnson Wax Building in Racine, Wis., Louis Kahn's Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif. -- and the recent winner of the Pritzker Prize, a top architectural honor: Mr. Mayne's building for the regional office of California's transportation department in Los Angeles.
Todd Schliemann, designer with James Polshek of the massive glass box Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History in New York (at No. 33, the top modern-looking building of recent vintage, completed in 1998), isn't surprised that the list is dominated by older, traditional-looking buildings. "The older the building, it's a safer bet, like an old sofa," he says.
Michael Lykoudis, dean of the classically oriented architecture school at University of Notre Dame, says "most buildings since World War II have been preoccupied with a narrow set of criteria, for a corporate client or for the architect. That type of architecture can't have the kind of mystery that a complex cultural exercise like Union Station in D.C. has.... What architects see in pristine detail gets lost on people if they can't connect to it on the philosophical and practical level."
Mr. Schliemann says he is pleased the Rose Center is in the same company as those older buildings, but adds, "The recognition that I would like is to go up to 42nd Street and see a snow globe made of the Rose Center. That would mean it was in an icon that has some permanence, as ironic as that sounds."
“Jazz musicians just get better and better as the years go by. I think chefs are the same way. You know who you are.”
Posted 07 February 2007 - 04:29 PM
I'm sure that I would agree with the architects far more often than the regular folks.
The Wall Street Journal has an article today about the disconnect between what architects see as great buildings, and what ordinary folk see as great buildings. Few buildings constructed in the past 35 years made the list of great buildings selected by ordinary folks, while one of the most inhospitable places to live (Fallingwater) made the list of great places selected by the professionals.
Posted 07 February 2007 - 04:31 PM
I think Arquitectonica's style is ideally suited to Miami, but out of place in NY.
Similarly, Ada Louise Huxtable, the Times then architecture critic said, years ago, when Morris Lapidus's Summit Hotel (on Lexington Avenue) was built that it was too far from the [Miami] beach.
I alluded to the cultural meaning of the Times Square building when I mentioned "cacophony." I think that's enough of a suggestion for this thread. I'm not saying I "like" or "dislike" the building, or that it is beautiful or ugly, just that it is appropriate for its site.
Posted 07 February 2007 - 04:32 PM
"Gay people exist. There's nothing we can do in public policy that makes more of us exist, or less of us exist. And you guys have been arguing for a generation that public policy ought to essentially demean gay people as a way of expressing disapproval of the fact that we exist, but you don't make any less of us exist. You just are arguing in favor of more discrimination, and more discrimination doesn't make straight people's lives any better." -Rachel Maddow to Jim DeMint and Ralph Reed
Posted 07 February 2007 - 04:39 PM
Posted 07 February 2007 - 04:40 PM
The forty-five-story Westin is the most garish tall building that has gone up in New York in as long as I can remember. It is fascinating, if only because it makes Times Square vulgar in a whole new way, extending up into the sky.
I believe there should be a way to evince cacophony without making it tasteless.
Posted 07 February 2007 - 04:41 PM
"Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires." --John Steinbeck
Posted 07 February 2007 - 04:42 PM
There are great works of art which are, in my view and the view of others, "ugly."
Posted 07 February 2007 - 04:42 PM
Posted 07 February 2007 - 04:42 PM
Posted 07 February 2007 - 04:48 PM