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Thread: London corner sites (PICTURES) now fixed

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Postmodernism, with few notable exceptions, has quickly become dated for a number of reasons. Like most sarcasm and jokey banter, it loses much in the re-telling. "I guess you just had to be there". Also, with many modernists retracing their roots to the more hopeful Bauhaus, glass and light look and away from brutalism and structuralism, the postmodernists have lost their 1980s monopoly on ‘modern’ structures that don’t make you want to top yourself.

    Below is one of my favorite post-modernist hate objects, No. 1 Poultry.
    Before anyone sez they "kinda like it", I suggest brief perusal of my previous rant/post on objectivity in architectural quality.



    I dislike the overwrought contrast of the two different claddings in bold pajama stripes, the pseudo-nautical, pseudo-art deco allusions at the 'prow' of the building.
    This building even compares unfavorably to the one below, albeit a modernist pseudo-organicist corner building that looks constructed out of dinosaur ribs and alien spaceship portholes. At least ‘dinosaur-alien’ building is crisply white(ish) and
    easy to read.



    But..corner sites are tough!! (you say)

    These gentlemen seemed to be able to handle it with some aplomb (this building is basically across the Poultry horror, between Cornhill and Lombard St. It features in a common 19th century print of the nearby Bank of England and Royal Exchange I have at home.



    Back to our whipping boy. While the frontal fenestration is ample (if artless), further along the sides, the architect decided to go for a fortress-like look. To the best of my knowledge this serves no practical purpose other than depriving the building’s inmates of natural light



    Conversely, below you can see the back of the Bank of England. The bottom two stories HAVE to be fortress-like (as they contain vast bullion and currency deposits), but the architect atones for it with almost Wren-like elegance (critics might say bombast) in the upper stories.



    They even regale us (just off to the right in the preceding picture) with this little jewel of a detail.



    In the ‘old’ thread on this topic, “chukky “ wrote:
    “I’m getting where your coming from, but could we have an example... an ordinary insignfigant corner building, that you approve of, built in the last twenty years? For arguments sake?”

    I’ve got a couple I could think of in London but don’t have pics right now. They are admittedly very small scale.

    1. The public loos/florist shop on Ladbroke Grove
    2. The Caffe’ Nero (or is it Starbucks?) on the corner of Kensington High Street and Allen Street.

    I ‘approve’ of both, though they are not great by any means.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 26 Aug 2005 at 12:15 PM.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  2. #2

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    Ah yes. Post-Modernism was going to save us all from the horrors of brutalism.



    This lovely was completed in Berkeley, California during THIS century. You can;t even tie it to the tacky '80s.

    In some ways, it's not as bad as it could have been if built, say, 25 years earlier. It is such a prominent site though and just looks "thin" and "cheap."
    Last edited by BKM; 26 Aug 2005 at 11:43 AM.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    You know, I don't hate that building you posted. The scale on it is fairly friendly. With fairly minimal cosmetic work, that could be a classic(ist) building.

    Now, about those PigeonSh!t (tm) grates jutting out at the ceiling llevel of the top and bottom story........what the heck ARE thode things about? They have become ubiquitous.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    You know, I don't hate that building you posted. The scale on it is fairly friendly. With fairly minimal cosmetic work, that could be a classic(ist) building.

    Now, about those PigeonSh!t (tm) grates jutting out at the ceiling llevel of the top and bottom story........what the heck ARE thode things about? They have become ubiquitous.
    I'm not sure I hate it that much, either. I could find much, much worse Po-Mo in the Bay Area, new as well as as 1980s. It was just already in my "Member's Gallery"

    The grates are called "brises-soleils," I beleive. I actually kinda like em in the proper place. They're meant to be "edgy" and "urban" and "industrial."

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    They're sprouting everywhere. I think they have several potential problems, especially if they are not sturdy enough to hold a person's weight. As you say, they're everywhere....


    What did you think of the main thread point?
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  6. #6
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Honestly, Luca, I'm not going to say that I like the first building you posted, because I don't. But there are a whole lot of sins that that building doesn't commit. There are thousands of buildings in Chicago that I'd much prefer it to. The state of architecture is so bad (mostly in the name of economics) that even superficially awful buildings (as opposed to buildings whose flaws go way beyond the facade) must be given their do.

    I agree though that the modernist building is much better.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    You know, I don't hate that building you posted. The scale on it is fairly friendly. With fairly minimal cosmetic work, that could be a classic(ist) building.

    Now, about those PigeonSh!t (tm) grates jutting out at the ceiling llevel of the top and bottom story........what the heck ARE thode things about? They have become ubiquitous.
    I agree with your main point. A building that is designed as a literary joke will lack "gravitas" and dignity. I don't like cartoon buildings-and most po-mo buildings are cartoons. Moreopver, they still share the same problem as generic modernism-they are modern "system buildings" done on the cheap with prefab components, minimal craftsmanship, poor detailing, garish colors, and poor proportions and scale.

    That said, jordanb does have a point: this building is so amazingly over the top that I react more with a smile than my typical reaction to po-mo.

    You want to see awful, google "San Francisco Marriott" circa 1989. Yuck. here's one site with views. http://marriott.com/property/propertypage/SFODT

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    I was wondering, what's the general opinion of the Harold Washington Public Library in Chicago? You can see a picture of it here:http://www.chipublib.org/001hwlc/001hwlc.html

    It was built in 1991, and is described as post modern, but it's unlike any post modern building I had ever seen.

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    Quote Originally posted by Jack
    I was wondering, what's the general opinion of the Harold Washington Public Library in Chicago? You can see a picture of it here:http://www.chipublib.org/001hwlc/001hwlc.html

    It was built in 1991, and is described as post modern, but it's unlike any post modern building I had ever seen.
    It's a bit ponderous and bulky, and the internal circulation is confusing as hell, and it rather looms over the block, but overall, I find it pretty dignified, a nice update of "Richardsonian Romanesque."

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jack
    I was wondering, what's the general opinion of the Harold Washington Public Library in Chicago? You can see a picture of it here:http://www.chipublib.org/001hwlc/001hwlc.html

    It was built in 1991, and is described as post modern, but it's unlike any post modern building I had ever seen.
    I think the materials and the general effort is commendable, but the proportions are all wrong, making it look like a hulking, stodgy presence.

    Definitely better than many, even msot, new buildings but here too you see the 'post-modern' manai with messing about with tried and tested proportions and aptterns for the sake of novelty, a sort of cartoonish, disneyesque take on our heritage.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    I think the materials and the general effort is commendable, but the proportions are all wrong, making it look like a hulking, stodgy presence.

    Definitely better than many, even msot, new buildings but here too you see the 'post-modern' manai with messing about with tried and tested proportions and aptterns for the sake of novelty, a sort of cartoonish, disneyesque take on our heritage.
    I sometimes wonder if it is not so much deliberate messing around for the sake of no9velty but simply a lack of education.training by designers. Plus, given that most American designers and architects grow up in horrific suburbia, they have no inherited sense of beauty or design. How can you design a beautiful civic building when you've spent your life amongst the commercial strip?

    I agree with your reading of the building, but it still has enough dignity that I would say it avoids cartoonishness in person. It is BIG!

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    I remember the first time I saw the library building - I was sort of confused by it. It didn't look like a modern building because it had too much attention to detail (the swags and metal sculpture), but it didn't have the proportions of an old building. At first I just figured it was an old building that had been *extensively* remodeled. I'm surprised it was made back in 1991, since I think it's better than most post modernism and a step in the right direction. I wish more buildings made afterward had tried to take themselves as seriously as this one seemingly does.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally posted by Jack
    I wish more buildings made afterward had tried to take themselves as seriously as this one seemingly does.
    Nah. The 90s and "oughts" are all about titanium clouds and copper clad battleships, don't yah know?

  14. #14
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Yes, the Harold Washington is a perfectly decent "traditional" building. It is a bit out of proportion but imagine how out of proportion it'd have been if they'd made it neoclassical. I think Art Deco and Modernist are the only types of construction that are versatile enough to be stretched around any building shape required.

    Here are some more shots of (peices) of the HW building:

    Detail of the cornice from the 7th floor of the building across State Street (where I used to work):


    This is Library station on the L. There's been a station here since the loop was built but the one that currently sits on the site was clearly designed to integrate with the library. Unfortunatly there is no connection between the two buildings. You have to leave the train station and walk around the block to access the library.


    Another shot of Library station:


    And a bit of the library from Congress St.


    You can also see the base (corner of State and Van Buren) in this photo:

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