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Thread: Worst, better, best building forms (PICTURES)

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    The saga continues. These buildings are relatively close to each other (indeed the two modern ones are side-to-side).

    First the WORST. It faces a busy road, admittedly, but its other sides (not visible in photo) are just as unfriendly. I could not find an entrance other than that weird, hyper-unfriendly, brutalist rough concrete spiral from hell at lower left. At least here in London this sort of stuff was partly built on bombsites, rather than by tearing down nice old buildings. Awful building.



    The following building is BETTER. Just off photo (left) there is a clear, pedestrian-friendly entrance with a nice sidewalk. The color of the building is not fully appreciable from my picture but it is a very warm tawny stone, set off by lightly tinted greenish windows. I think the building lacks long-term visual interest and transparency-by-glass relief of mass has environmental and practical shortcomings. Nonetheless, it is a huge improvement on the first eyesore. Only thing is, imagine a street all of buildings like this. A bit dull.



    The last, BEST building Ė yes in architecture I am an unreconstructed reactionary. Why? It works. This building has plenty of windows, gorgeous relief of mass and visual interest at ground level, and nice proportions despite being rather large. Iím not crazy about the pedestrianization of most roads but this is in an area where 99% of people go to work by public transport (the City) and the buildings are served by alleys. There is nothing I donít like about this building.



    resurrecting the thread, in case there is any interest....
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 03 Feb 2006 at 3:03 PM. Reason: double post
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  2. #2
    First, I presume that you are dicussing the exteriors of these buildings, rather than their programmes. Certainly having never visited them I can't comment on how well they function.

    Having said that, I will also say that they are all three products of their time. I have much respect for that as I dislike reproductions in architecture. We can create buildings that speak of our time and we should.

    The worst building is certainly harsh in all aspects. It almost ignores its repsonibility to address the street and the pedestrians one expects to find there. My guess would be a courts building or a newspaper, two of the most likely suspects to be guilty of inane design.

    I rather like the second building. It has human scale, I like the way it addresses the street. Are those galleries on the floors above the street?

    Certainly the historic building is delightful. But I doubt even the wealthiest client would afford it in today's economy.

    Just my $0.02.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    I'm feverish and hopped up on ibuprofen but I think you've committed a bit of a... well, something. Forgetting the time periods here, do you reasonably think that these were built by the same relative wealth from each period? Yes, sure sure the first is horrible and the second is ok and the last is absolutely neato, but so what? The construction dollar values of each were likely dissimilar, too.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by abrowne
    I'm feverish and hopped up on ibuprofen but I think you've committed a bit of a... well, something. Forgetting the time periods here, do you reasonably think that these were built by the same relative wealth from each period? Yes, sure sure the first is horrible and the second is ok and the last is absolutely neato, but so what? The construction dollar values of each were likely dissimilar, too.
    True, true, the third building would be somewhat more expensive than the first two but, hey, in real terms we are vastly richer (as a society) than the people that built it. Vastly.

    I do like the second building. I'd like it more if some of the relief of mass came from sculptural elements.

    As far as I can tell, the first awful building is just offices. The second building is a public building, can't remember what tough.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    True, true, the third building would be somewhat more expensive than the first two but, hey, in real terms we are vastly richer (as a society) than the people that built it. Vastly.

    I do like the second building. I'd like it more if some of the relief of mass came from sculptural elements.

    As far as I can tell, the first awful building is just offices. The second building is a public building, can't remember what tough.
    In some ways we are "richer." But, part of that wealth is because of mechanization, elimination of labor costs, and the substitution of good, expensive, high labor materials with panelized, "modern" materials. It's easy to admire, for example, the remarkable Victorian woodframe architecture in California. The problem: 90%+ of the virgin redwood forests are chopped down or protected in parks. I hear all the time from contractors "We can't get the "good" lumber anymore. GDP numbers don't tell everything.

  6. #6
    I think the myth that modernist architecture is cheaper is exposed by how many such projects tend to go horribly over budget.

    On the other hand the White City of the Chicago Columbian Exposition was made out of plaster and hemp.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    I think the myth that modernist architecture is cheaper is exposed by how many such projects tend to go horribly over budget.

    On the other hand the White City of the Chicago Columbian Exposition was made out of plaster and hemp.
    Yeah but we're not talking showpiece projects, Jaws. We're talking day to day normal construction. And those projects that go over budget do so because of idiot architects.

  8. #8

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    Do you really think that #3 could be built today at the same price or a little more than number 3? I'm not sure.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    Do you really think that #3 could be built today at the same price or a little more than number 3? I'm not sure.
    No. You're right. Especially in manpower/man-hours terms we can never, collectively, be richer. As incomes rise so do..incomes (i.e. labor costs).

    However if genius architects, instead of spending all their energy on luminescent clouds and sworls of titanium figured out how to use new and inexpensive but not 'cheap' materials to erect decent buildings maybe the cost difference would not be as great. I've got nothing against steel-bearm, concrete slip construction. It works great and is cheaper. I also think that concrete and other aggregate materials can be as nice as stone, if used sculpturally. Cast stone is in many ways superior to actual stone (I believe it is lighter and stronger, being a composite, but I could be misinformed). Bricks are fairly cheap and more or less never going to run out of clay and dirt. As for wood, OK, it takes time to grow but it IS renewable. I don't think you have to chop down redwoods to get decent timber.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  10. #10
    Come on, you guys are such defeatists. You're telling me that façade is more complicated to make than, say, this high-definition flat screen TV? It's concrete, not solid gold. The forms are all very standards. A couple chinese kids working molds could pump out over a dozen of these buildings every day. If you insist on on-site work then there are millions of high-school dropouts out there serving you hamburgers who would love to do this kind of work for barely any pay. They just have to follow the plan to the letter and it'll work out beautifully. We're not dealing with Gaudi-like complexity.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Mebbe we can get JordanAB to give up his current job and set up the concrete mould factory to create blue-collar jobs
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    Mebbe we can get JordanAB to give up his current job and set up the concrete mould factory to create blue-collar jobs
    In a four story loft building saved at the very last moment from being converted to condos for DePaul students? Thanks You, Superurbanworkingclassman!

    jaws: Perhaps. Is it really that simple? Part of the problem, don't you think, is that we have "dumbed down" the construction process in just that way. Even with machine carved woodwork and the like, the old classics require a little more thought and craftsmanship than we might think.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    If they can build 'proper' traditional buildings in italy and, even, in the Uk, there's no reason why you couldn't teach "merkuns" to do it.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

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