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Thread: Sullivan's spectacular masterpiece Guarantee Building

  1. #26
    The idea that a classical building is not original is completely bogus. Any building that is not an exact replica of another building is an original building. Some elements are reproduced from previous examples because the architect found them appropriate to the problem he is solving. Within the recurring elements of classical architecture (or any traditional form of architecture) the number of possible variations is infinite, and new elements can be gradually invented to combine with the old and create infinitely more variations.

    When you want to write a book, you don't start by inventing all your own words. You tell the original story that you came up with using the words and syntax of an established language. That doesn't make your story any less original.

  2. #27
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    So much to say...so little time...


    I think jaws and BKM addressed the 'originality' issue and the 'quality issue' well.

    But let me go down to an even more basic question. How important is originality in arhcitecture?
    At the extremes of the spectrum one miught say it is all important (even if the building collapses) or of no importance at all. Most would probably be somewhere in the middle.

    I contend that IN ARCHITECTURE ORIGINALITY IS OF VERY LITTLE WORTH. Sure, INNOVATION that allows for the same inherent functional quality at lower cost or IMPROVEMENT that creates an even more harmonious form is worthwhile. But, PER SE originality in a functional object (like a building) is worthless.

    A bias-cut, Loropiana cloth, blue pinstripe suit from Brioni is not original; but is arguably perfect. Conversely, I can make a suit out of tinfoil, fishing net and dried dog turds and, yes, it would be original. But it would suck.

    The cult of originality is premised on the common, banal fallacy of personal uniqueness and centrality. this is why it is sustained only in 'subjective' endeavors such as figurative and performance arts. Unfortunately, starchitecture is now treated as a figurative art, rather than a profession.

  3. #28

    "Less is more"

    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    I'm asking because I am interested in understanding the REASON why your personal preference veers toward a less ornate, perhaps spare (?) style. What is it about ti that you like? Have you contemplated the causality of that preference? Imagine it's a 5-year old asking you 'why?'
    I like good modernist /minimalism. The reasons I like it because it serves and shows frankly what it has to. To me, it's clean, clear, easy to understand and less maintenance. I personaly enjoy simple esthetic with less ornament.

    I believe that every designer has theirown favourit style although the work they have created not always fit thier preferences. There are many reasons that those buildings have been created. I also have designed many styles of residential.( classical, contemporay, japanese, modern.....) but if I were a millionair and had my own paradise to be built, I would select natural-modern. Weird?
    hahaha

    PS: Sorry if my English is difficult to understand. I'm an alien.

  4. #29
    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    How can you say this, given that the urban environment created by modern architecture and URBAN PLANNING has created an environment that is in many respects WORSE than traditional planning and architecture?

    The idea that the only worthwhile architecture is that which is completely new is a conceit of the 20th century. No other period of history demanded that it be completely new. Architecture and art in general should evolve, not merely be new for the sake of novelty.

    I prefer glass boxes to looming black wedges or tiresome titanium clouds that offer the pedestrian blank walls and glaring sunlight reflections to the neighborhood. Especially in a dense downtown environment (if you want to build amorphous follies off in the woods, go for it).

    I NEVER EVER said that only new architecture is worthwhile. There are principles of design worth keeping from every era. But should we make our cars look like an 1870 buggy? Should our magazines and newspapers have graphics that look like 1901? Should your I pod be covered in lacy decoration or perhaps it should be 50 times bigger than it needs to be so that you can pretend it was made in the 70's I said that we should build for today based on today's society with today's technology. This phony Disney way of building pretending everything is cutsie olde timey is cheating our selves of what is really possible.

    As for other eras...... There have been many periods in architectural history where the past has been tossed off. The Romans had a great impact on the technology of architecture with the use of arches domes and vaults. Much of their architecture was dedicated to glorifying this technology. The great gothic churches were the highest technology of their time. The technology gave the building its incredible form. The Renaissance threw off the Gothic and turned back to the Romans to glorify the ideas of the Roman time. It was appropriate for them to do this since this was a time of rediscovery of all the knowledge lost in the middle ages.

    Here is an analogy:

    If the Gothic architects decided the building should be historic rather than of its time they would be using the gothic technology to support the building. They would build slender columns and delicate arches. Then they would come in and clad it all with heavy Egyptian ornament. they would fill in the large window openings and paint hieroglyphics on the walls.

    A good contemporary building does not have to be an amorphous folly or gigantic sculpture. A good modern building can energize a street. It can conserve energy and it can delight the senses. You don't have to build a structure that pretends to be from another era.
    Last edited by steel; 27 Sep 2005 at 8:46 AM.

  5. #30

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    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    The idea that a classical building is not original is completely bogus. Any building that is not an exact replica of another building is an original building. Some elements are reproduced from previous examples because the architect found them appropriate to the problem he is solving. Within the recurring elements of classical architecture (or any traditional form of architecture) the number of possible variations is infinite, and new elements can be gradually invented to combine with the old and create infinitely more variations.

    When you want to write a book, you don't start by inventing all your own words. You tell the original story that you came up with using the words and syntax of an established language. That doesn't make your story any less original.
    Excellent summary of the issue!

    Don't get me wrong. I like some, a great deal even, modernist (as in style, not the modern era). My ideal residence, absent an original pre-Civil war Greek revival or Ferderalist townhouse (pretty rare out here in California ) would probably be a Pierre Koenig glass box. But, to claim that this is the only way of building, the only way of being modern, seems...strange...to me.

    Quote Originally posted by steel
    Here is an analogy:

    If the Gothic architects decided the building should be historic rather than of its time they would be using the gothic technology to support the building. They would build slender columns and delicate arches. Then they would come in and clad it all with heavy Egyptian ornament. they would fill in the large window openings and paint hieroglyphics on the walls.

    A good contemporary building does not have to be an amorphous folly or gigantic sculpture. A good modern building can energize a street. It can conserve energy and it can delight the senses. You don't have to build a structure that pretends to be from another era.
    I don't accept your analogy. Why, again, is it necessary to forever reinvent the wheel? The problem with modernism as a style is it so rarely does what you claim it can in your last pararagraph. By rejecting millenia of precedent, everyday C-list architects struggle with accomplishing the goals which you claim to support. Nobody (well, maybe Luca ) would deny that the modern movement has created landmarks that are beautiful. It's just that the everyday environment created by everyday architects and commercial builders using modernism as a style is almost always impoverished. We are talking Greek Revival Pattern Books and self-trained carpenters versus franchise fast food and concrete block strip malls.

    And, we are not even talking about modernist planning-the primacy of the car, rigid separation of land uses, large monolithic structures that destroy the fine grain of traditional urbanism.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 04 Oct 2005 at 1:01 PM. Reason: double reply

  6. #31
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    I'm a tad confused about what you're suggesting, steel.

    Are you suggesting that no new buildings should use or even allude to historical styles (ie. Federal, Gothic, Calssical, Romanesque, etc.)? Thereby requiring that each new building be an original expression of "Architecture", absent any references to preceding architectural history.

    or

    Are you suggesting that exact repilcation of specific historical buildings and poor execution of historical styles (ie. clumsy EIFS classical entablatures and cornices, etc) be avoided?

    If you are suggesting the former, I would disagree. Orginiality as an ends is very dangerous and destructive for architectural practice.

    If you are suggesting the later, then I wholeheartedly agree. Here is a link to some examples of newly built structures that do not ignore context, human scale and architectural history. And they also do not replicate specific buildings/style in an attempt to look “old”.

    here's another building I like:




    This is a brand new mixed-use building that is sympathetic to the adjacent late 19th century commerical district at W. Belden and N. Halsted in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. I like this building and believe it was built using comtemporary building techniques and materials.
    Last edited by mendelman; 27 Sep 2005 at 2:13 PM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Every day is today. Yesterday is a myth and tomorrow an illusion.

    You know...for kids.

  7. #32
    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    I don't accept your analogy. Why, again, is it necessary to forever reinvent the wheel? The problem with modernism as a style is it so rarely does what you claim it can in your last pararagraph. By rejecting millenia of precedent, everyday C-list architects struggle with accomplishing the goals which you claim to support. Nobody (well, maybe Luca ) would deny that the modern movement has created landmarks that are beautiful. It's just that the everyday environment created by everyday architects and commercial builders using modernism as a style is almost always impoverished. We are talking Greek Revival Pattern Books and self-trained carpenters versus franchise fast food and concrete block strip malls.

    And, we are not even talking about modernist planning-the primacy of the car, rigid separation of land uses, large monolithic structures that destroy the fine grain of traditional urbanism.


    I think you are confusing bad architecture and bad planning with Modernism. Though they are often the same thing, modern architecture does not automatically = bad architecture just becasue so much of our built environment is bad. Have you looked around at the so called historic architecture being foisted on the public these days. The goofy colonial style strip malls, the plastic greek revival banks, Stupid looking carbord arches pastered on facades. Bad architecture is universal these days.

    I have never said that we should throw out time tested principles of architecture and I am not calling for Corbusian garden cities. You could apply most of Christopher Alexander's "A Pattern Language" principles to modern architecture and still have a minimal contemporary building. Modernism does not equal cold and inhuman. That is an interpretation based on the plethora of bad developer architetcure that we all except in our cities. I can show you block after block of pure historicy crap going up in Chicago right now. Historic does not = good architecture.

    There IS no reason to reject a millennia of precident but is there a reason to put Greek columns on a contemporary building? Excepting the basic underlying principles of design developed over thousands of years is much different than decorating a building a certain way. If it is ok to make our buildings look like yesteryear why not dress up our Ipods look like Victrolas then??????????

    Quote Originally posted by mendelman
    I'm a tad confused about what you're suggesting, steel.

    Are you suggesting that no new buildings should use or even allude to historical styles (ie. Federal, Gothic, Calssical, Romanesque, etc.)? Thereby requiring that each new building be an original expression of "Architecture", absent any references to preceding architectural history.

    or

    Are you suggesting that exact repilcation of specific historical buildings and poor execution of historical styles (ie. clumsy EIFS classical entablatures and cornices, etc) be avoided?

    If you are suggesting the former, I would disagree. Orginiality as an ends is very dangerous and destructive for architectural practice.

    If you are suggesting the later, then I wholeheartedly agree. Here is a link to some examples of newly built structures that do not ignore context, human scale and architectural history. And they also do not replicate specific buildings/style in an attempt to look “old”.

    here's another building I like:




    This is a brand new mixed-use building that is sympathetic to the adjacent late 19th century commerical district at W. Belden and N. Armitage in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. I like this building and believe it was built using comtemporary building techniques and materials.

    This building is certainly well built and it gets details more correct (though not entirely)than most. This is a rare higher quality historic building. Take a look at the crummy historicy bank building down the block at the corner of Armitage.

    Certainly your example building is not offensive but a quality contemporary building at this site could have offered much more to its tenant and to the street. On top of that I think it takes away form the history of the original (true) old buildings. Those buildings have real history behind them. That history adds meaning to them.

    Should Paris construct buildings which look like they were built in 1675 so they match the adjacent buildings that were really built then? I think that would be rediculous. How silly... You are in Paris on vacation. you stand and take some pictures in front of some buildinsg that you THINK are form 1675 and it turns out they were from 1995....Wouldn't you be disappointed once you found that out?

    It is interesting that your list of historicy buildings show the Harold Washington Librbary. This building has been widely criticized for all the things you have been painting Modernism with. It is a cold monolithic street killer. Its interior is cold and confusing and many people find the palce unpleasant to use.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 04 Oct 2005 at 1:01 PM. Reason: double reply

  8. #33

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    Quote Originally posted by steel
    I think you are confusing bad architecture and bad planning with Modernism. Though they are often the same thing, modern architecture does not automatically = bad architecture just becasue so much of our built environment is bad. Have you looked around at the so called historic architecture being foisted on the public these days. The goofy colonial style strip malls, the plastic greek revival banks, Stupid looking carbord arches pastered on facades. Bad architecture is universal these days.

    I have never said that we should throw out time tested principles of architecture and I am not calling for Corbusian garden cities. You could apply most of Christopher Alexander's "A Pattern Language" principles to modern architecture and still have a minimal contemporary building. Modernism does not equal cold and inhuman. That is an interpretation based on the plethora of bad developer architetcure that we all except in our cities. I can show you block after block of pure historicy crap going up in Chicago right now. Historic does not = good architecture.

    There IS no reason to reject a millennia of precident but is there a reason to put Greek columns on a contemporary building? Excepting the basic underlying principles of design developed over thousands of years is much different than decorating a building a certain way. If it is ok to make our buildings look like yesteryear why not dress up our Ipods look like Victrolas then??????????
    Up to your last paragraph, I agree with you somewhat. I'm not defending the Colonial motel. Much modern "traditional" building is a banal pastiche. Modern economic and social forces certainly have led to a debased built environment-you cannot blame the Modern Movement entirely for this.

    I would respond, however, that this built crudscape reflects the fact that high style architecture, the architecture of the academy, the magazines, the press, the prestigious prizes, has largely abandoned the need for everyday architecture. When the best and brightest are building one-off custom estates and blob museums, high style architecture no longer contributes to the design of the everyday built environment. Plus, these crudscapes you de*****te-would they really be better when built in a "modern" style? I doubt it. Even the half-ass pediments and foam trim are better than a blank concrete box or poorly detailed glass mass. The everyday architects and clients have rejected the ideology of the modernist style without having the MONEY, skills, knowledge, or, let's admit it, taste, to build "quality" traditional buildings. Especially as the de*****tion of craftsmanship and materials by modernists throughout the 20th century helped dry up the reservoir of skilled building craftsmen-meaning to get the good stuff means hiring a tiny elite who get paid a lot of money.


    As for your last paragraph, I would argue that the principles of Classical architecture-even columns and pediments-are timeless. They express architectonic forces in a way that modernists interested in "expressing structure" should support. Columns, pediments, three part division of a facade, all the traditional rules reflect deep seated psychological forces-they are a time-tested way of humanizing our built environment in a comprehensible manner. Traditional details also make it possible for a building to be attractive without being perfect. Mies requires a lot of money, a lot of time, first rate contractors, and an eye for detail. A good traditional building-when he traditions have not been debased due to ideology and economic forces-does not require this perfection to work well.

    Better a building with columns than a windowless concrete box or a poorly detailed glass cube using cheap glass and bad joints.

    Edit: I would also point out that buildings are different than ephemeral consumer electronics. Or, should be.

    It's wierd...the vBase software catches and deletes the wrod de - ni - grate. Which is obviously not a race-based epithet.

    Quote Originally posted by steel

    It is interesting that your list of historicy buildings show the Harold Washington Librbary. This building has been widely criticized for all the things you have been painting Modernism with. It is a cold monolithic street killer. Its interior is cold and confusing and many people find the palce unpleasant to use.
    It certainly beats the Rem Koolhaas Seatlle library, though. Check out City Comforts for a scathing critique of that monolithic black borg cube. (Not denying the problems of Harold Washington.)

    Again-why and how would a more contemporary building be by definition "better." Especially because such a modern building would probably be closer in character to the blank walled Old Navy box on Clybourne. You want to see comemrcial grade modernism in full flower, look at North Avenue. I'll take the pastiche.
    Last edited by Tranplanner; 28 Sep 2005 at 11:05 AM. Reason: double reply - next one will be deleted.

  9. #34
    The fact that you put on some plastic columns does not eliminate the fact that the building has no windows.

    As a matter of fact there are many historicy buildings that have no windows. Many of them try to conceal that fact by adding fake windows. The fact that they put in fake windows tells me that they do not even understand the basic reason why a window is a good thing to have. If they can not even understand basic priciples of how interior and exterior interact on a building how are some foam pediments going to help?

  10. #35
    Fake traditional and pastiche architecture is a direct application of postmodernism. The idea was to borrow elements from past styles without truly being faithful to them because that would carry their historical significance into the present. Instead the aim is irony. Remember how silly we were to like Victorian architecture? This deconstructed form exposes the emptiness of the soul of man etc etc etc...

    Any minimally competent architect can create faithful traditional and classical styles just by picking up a book and reproducing what is seen in it. They don't because they don't want to. It wouldn't be original, you know? And didn't Le Corbusier say that true architecture was a window that was either too small or too big? If they made genuine traditional buildings their membership card at the modernist club would be revoked. Pastiching the past allows them to keep distance between the traditions of architecture and the dogma they adhere to.

  11. #36
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Ok...so I understand now what you are suggesting, steel.

    Here is another commercial building on Michigan Ave:
    The Apple Computer store:


    Is this what you would prefer to see more of? I agree with you about wanting more varied streetscapes (don't think I am anti-Modernist). I'm more concerned with a building's relation to its location (commercial buildings must allow for "window shopping" in a urban setting, etc).

    Or the Gap store on Michigan Ave:


    Also the Lincoln Park Home Depot:


    And some future housing in Lincoln Park (I was only able to photograph the development's sign):


    Granted the Harold Washington Library is rather ponderous, but it is more Post-Modern than Revivalist, and it does deaden that portion of State St.

    Can you post any photos of buildings as examples of your desires?
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Every day is today. Yesterday is a myth and tomorrow an illusion.

    You know...for kids.

  12. #37
    I am working on it

    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    Fake traditional and pastiche architecture is a direct application of postmodernism. The idea was to borrow elements from past styles without truly being faithful to them because that would carry their historical significance into the present. Instead the aim is irony. Remember how silly we were to like Victorian architecture? This deconstructed form exposes the emptiness of the soul of man etc etc etc...

    Any minimally competent architect can create faithful traditional and classical styles just by picking up a book and reproducing what is seen in it. They don't because they don't want to. It wouldn't be original, you know? And didn't Le Corbusier say that true architecture was a window that was either too small or too big? If they made genuine traditional buildings their membership card at the modernist club would be revoked. Pastiching the past allows them to keep distance between the traditions of architecture and the dogma they adhere to.
    I think you are giving many of these "architects" too much credit.
    Last edited by Tranplanner; 28 Sep 2005 at 11:06 AM. Reason: double reply - please consolidate responses into a single post, using the edit button if necessary

  13. #38

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    Quote Originally posted by steel
    I think you are giving many of these "architects" too much credit.
    Maybe. Which is why a living, firmly established architectural tradition provides more guidance to third-rate designers and contractors than a philosophy of "build anything you want, as long as it "reflects our time"" whatever the latter means.

    I like some of the modernist buildings posted by mendleman, by the way. Note thy are typically smaller floorplates in a traditional streetecape (you can't separate modernist planning from modernist architetcure. they both come from similar reductionist roots-worship of efficiency,. technology and movement, rejection of traditional ideas of urbanism or architecture). Mendleman's buildings work ok because they are inserted into that traditional storefront pattern.

    The more problematical Home Depot reflects a deeper issue: how to deal with very big, long monolithic buildings. Might I be lynched for suggesting a good colonnade would be a better way of providing rhythm and interest to that streetscape than a white wall with flush windows?

  14. #39
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    Quote Originally posted by steel
    By the way Modern or contemporary means far more than "glass box" Don't limit your imagination as to what is possible in architecture today.
    I wasn't limiting my imagination, I was giving two secific examples of building types. A neoclassical building is a specific sort of historicist building, and a glass box is a specific type of modern building. If anything, I have more of an imagination for recognizing that original things can be done with both historicism and modernist ideas.

    As for iPods looking like Victrolas - that would be silly, but I think it would be kinda cool if iPods had fancy designs on them. That would be adapting something historic to a new form and creating something original.

    Also, none of the buildings Mendleman posted strike me as being wildly original. They use elements seen in buildings since before the 1950's. At what point do things like glass walls become historic rather than contemporary?

  15. #40
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Wow, this has become one big pissing match...........

    Can't we just agree that it was a great building for its time?

  16. #41

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    Quote Originally posted by Rumpy Tunanator
    Wow, this has become one big pissing match...........

    Can't we just agree that it was a great building for its time?
    We are beginning to rehash some of the arguments in Luca's attempt to define "good design" independent of style. I was disappointed to see that argument/discussion fade.

  17. #42
    There really is no architecture without style but modernism does attempt, to some degree to be structurally and functionally honest using the functions and structure of the building as its decoration rather than applied decorations developed in another era. Good modernism does this well bad does not.

    As for the Ipod. You say it is rediculous to make an Ipod look like a victrola, You would not want your car to look like an 1857 carriage, and you do not dress like a Roman Senator but you think your buildings should look like ancient Greek places of worship. I do not understand that.

    If we had more faith in our own time and abilities we would be creating a lot more great buildings but our fear especially in this country (the europeans are building many exquisite modern buildings) is holding us back on many new and exciting things in many fields, especially architecture

    Check out the Phaidon - Atlas of Contemporary Architecture. It is a gigantic book. Wow are there a lot of great buildings in there.
    Last edited by Tranplanner; 28 Sep 2005 at 11:04 AM. Reason: double reply

  18. #43
    The iPod is designed to look like the old-school MacIntosh computers from the 80's. It is certainly not of its time, and yet it is of its time because it exists now and performs a function in the present. The fact that it looks retro does not in anyway affect its ability to perform its function, but adds to the appeal of the product.

  19. #44
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by steel
    There really is no architecture without style but modernism does attempt, to some degree to be structurally and functionally honest using the functions and structure of the building as its decoration rather than applied decorations developed in another era. Good modernism does this well bad does not.
    The idea that making an ostentatious show of some element's of a building structural element sis 'honest' is a mere statement, not backed by any deep reasoning - it is also a tenet of modernism. Again, I use the suit metaphor. If you make the stitching in a suit heavy-gauge nylon fishing line and flare orange so it stands out, is the suit more 'honest'? or just pi##-ugly?

    As you say, in reality the cheesy line about showing the 'true nature' of the building is just a gimmick intended to justify some, clumsy, ornamentation (I-beam spans tacked on the outside of the building, anyone?). Whether a decorative element is attractive or not, does not depend on how long ago it was invented, 1000, 100 or 10 years ago. Classical decorative elements have EVOLVED over time and therefore passed the test of time. Generally, they are better than what 99.9999% of Johnny-come-lately architects or designers could possibly dream up. It is a conceit, a folly, an illusion that some guy with 4 years of college is likely to add much to the design canon.

    Quote Originally posted by steel
    As for the Ipod. You say it is rediculous to make an Ipod look like a victrola, You would not want your car to look like an 1857 carriage, and you do not dress like a Roman Senator but you think your buildings should look like ancient Greek places of worship. I do not understand that.
    Two points. Not all things and endeavors are alike. In most fields of aesthetics, humanity has peaked. I would bet any amount of money we will never build cars that LOOK better than 1930s cars. Ever. If you are a car body designer you're wasting your time and the shareholders' money. The mechanics are a different thing. Architecture... Hmmm, probably 99% of architects should just give up trying anything new, they're just not that good.

    I don't dress like a roman senator but (elegant) men's clothing has not changed appreciably for 70 years, though manufacturing techniques and details have.

    All we classicists say is: don't just build different for the sake of it. Build BEST. Do you honestly think that Koolhaas builds more pleasing, humane, inspiring buildings than Palladio? Not 'more of our time', not 'more daring' Better, Objectively better? No, of course not; he should pack it in.

    Quote Originally posted by steel
    If we had more faith in our own time and abilities we would be creating a lot more great buildings but our fear especially in this country (the Europeans are building many exquisite modern buildings) is holding us back on many new and exciting things in many fields, especially architecture
    No. Sorry. I grew up and live in Europe. In Europe small elites (in the worst sense of the word) foist appalling, city-space-killing atrocities upon a reluctant public.

    PARDON THE RANT. Construction and support of ugly new buildings is one of the few things others can do that affects me, that I cannot get away from. So I care. When an ugly building goes up in a European city center and the critics praise it, to me it's like watching a thousand trucks dump mercury and sludge into a tropical lagoon and a crowd of imbeciles cheering it as a 'different take on what it means to be a sea'.

  20. #45

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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    The idea that making an ostentatious show of some element's of a building structural element sis 'honest' is a mere statement, not backed by any deep reasoning - it is also a tenet of modernism. Again, I use the suit metaphor. If you make the stitching in a suit heavy-gauge nylon fishing line and flare orange so it stands out, is the suit more 'honest'? or just pi##-ugly?

    As you say, in reality the cheesy line about showing the 'true nature' of the building is just a gimmick intended to justify some, clumsy, ornamentation (I-beam spans tacked on the outside of the building, anyone?). Whether a decorative element is attractive or not, does not depend on how long ago it was invented, 1000, 100 or 10 years ago. Classical decorative elements have EVOLVED over time and therefore passed the test of time. Generally, they are better than what 99.9999% of Johnny-come-lately architects or designers could possibly dream up. It is a conceit, a folly, an illusion that some guy with 4 years of college is likely to add much to the design canon.



    Two points. Not all things and endeavors are alike. In most fields of aesthetics, humanity has peaked. I would bet any amount of money we will never build cars that LOOK better than 1930s cars. Ever. If you are a car body designer you're wasting your time and the shareholders' money. The mechanics are a different thing. Architecture... Hmmm, probably 99% of architects should just give up trying anything new, they're just not that good.

    I don't dress like a roman senator but (elegant) men's clothing has not changed appreciably for 70 years, though manufacturing techniques and details have.

    All we classicists say is: don't just build different for the sake of it. Build BEST. Do you honestly think that Koolhaas builds more pleasing, humane, inspiring buildings than Palladio? Not 'more of our time', not 'more daring' Better, Objectively better? No, of course not; he should pack it in.



    No. Sorry. I grew up and live in Europe. In Europe small elites (in the worst sense of the word) foist appalling, city-space-killing atrocities upon a reluctant public.

    PARDON THE RANT. Construction and support of ugly new buildings is one of the few things others can do that affects me, that I cannot get away from. So I care. When an ugly building goes up in a European city center and the critics praise it, to me it's like watching a thousand trucks dump mercury and sludge into a tropical lagoon and a crowd of imbeciles cheering it as a 'different take on what it means to be a sea'.
    An excellent summary to what the rest of us have been saying all along.

    To me, the most critical aspect of this debate is simple: Most architects, let alone contractors and design-build consultants-are NOT Mies or Frank Lloyd Wright. Without a strong tradition, a strong shared language of proportions and materials and urbanism, these day-today builders responsible for 95% of our built environment are utterly lost, utterly destructive.

    Steel: you are quoting the same mythological justifications for the "eternal avante garde" as the enfants terrribles of the 1930s. Even the "scientists" who are now beginning to acknowledge the psychological and form-based science of traditional "styles" now find the 1930s purism silly and laughable. It's 2005, man. What is REALLY up to date and modern, "Pruitt Igoe" or a beautifully proprtioned and crafted traditional mixed use building like Mendleman posted and you disparaged?

    (Again, I like some modernist style architecture. It can work, when its in a traditional fabric and follows simple, time-tested rules of transparency and proportion (among others).)

  21. #46
    Cyburbian chukky's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Brisbane, Queensland
    Posts
    363
    sorry to back track but this gets me.


    This building is certainly well built and it gets details more correct (though not entirely)than most. This is a rare higher quality historic building. Take a look at the crummy historicy bank building down the block at the corner of Armitage.

    Certainly your example building is not offensive but a quality contemporary building at this site could have offered much more to its tenant and to the street. On top of that I think it takes away form the history of the original (true) old buildings. Those buildings have real history behind them. That history adds meaning to them.
    Could a modern building really contribute more to the street? I think a line needs to be drawn between "landmark" buildings and "infill" buildings. Every area needs some of both. That building serves an "infill" context - it is the padding that gives more signifigant buildings room to breathe. Regardless of how beautiful or waht style they are, landmark, distinctive buildings dont work well jammed next to each other. If you try, you get Vegas.

    I know i am talking more distinctive v. bland rather than modern v. traditional, but i dont think the two are seperable in this context.

    Should Paris construct buildings which look like they were built in 1675 so they match the adjacent buildings that were really built then? I think that would be rediculous. How silly... You are in Paris on vacation. you stand and take some pictures in front of some buildinsg that you THINK are form 1675 and it turns out they were from 1995....Wouldn't you be disappointed once you found that out?
    Maybe I take the photo becuase I think it is a pretty building?

  22. #47
    You guys keep changing the conversation from Modern (contemporary) vs. Classical (historicy) architecture to Good architecture vs. bad architecture.

    Modern does not equal bad. Bad equals bad weather it is classical or modern. You are all ignoring the huge mass of blatantly horrid new historicy buildings going up today. We are not talking about 100 year old buildings. We all know that society was very much more urban and pedestrian oriented 100 years ago making for a much more pleasant human environments (at least now if not back then....lets not glorify too much, cities were pretty bad back then)


    Here are some (in my opinion) bad historicy buildings. Let us keep on subject this is classical v contemporary, not bad v good:








  23. #48
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Staff meeting
    Posts
    11,051
    I totally agree that those buildings you posted are wretched, and should be avoided completely.

    BTW, you've ignoring a part of the argument being made by others that good "historicy" buildings are worthy of placement in our built environment.

    I think we can all agree (as you & BKM has stated) that quality execution (proper proportions, interaction with street activity, transparency, time tested materials, etc) of either Modern or Classical styles in a built environment are needed and desireable.
    Last edited by mendelman; 28 Sep 2005 at 4:49 PM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Every day is today. Yesterday is a myth and tomorrow an illusion.

    You know...for kids.

  24. #49
    Those are all postmodern buildings steel. It was the style 'of the time' back in the 80's. You have to pick the right targets.

  25. #50

    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Solano County, California
    Posts
    6,468
    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    Those are all postmodern buildings steel. It was the style 'of the time' back in the 80's. You have to pick the right targets.
    As banal as these are, I would still argue that they at least have more color and interest than the typical botched third-rate modernism that REQUIRED the reaction of postmodernism, as cartoonish and bland as most postmodernism was/is.

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