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Thread: The death of architectural detail … on anything

  1. #51
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    You can now get precast plastic columns with Ionic, Corinthian, Doric, or whatever "style" you want. You can get precast plastic ceiling ornamentation around your ceiling fixtures and in cove moldings.

    Just pick out something from the catalog and paste it on.

    That is what is happening in the world of "style and taste" today.

    It is phony and plastic and false "quality."

    Some contemporary architecture in the past got too sterile. It was too concerned with overall massing, and lost its human scale when you got closer and entered the human spaces. It was too plain and had no "richness" in "detail." Today's "style" will be equally criticized for its phony "application" and copying of "style" or "detail" from Greek or Roman architecture which had its own quality. We will never be known for quality architecture by copying other civilization's architecture. Quality will not be imparted to architecture by using the "copy and paste" methods of today.

    American architecture will not be great until it develops its own recognizable "style." Frank Lloyd Wright almost developed one in his mid career. He understood proportion and richness of materials for their own sake and he had much stylized detail and artwork. We did not recognize his talent and did not capitalize on it in major construction.

    At least, today many people recognize the deficiency in "detail" and warmth in today's architecture.

    There is hope that the public will be more receptive in the next "Frank Lloyd Wright" (or its "school") to come along.

  2. #52
    Quote Originally posted by Duke Of Dystopia View post
    Those kind of frills cost a lot of money. In commercial buildings then, you get more utility and return on investment if you put that money into additional floorspace. Sure the developer has impoverished the visual realm of sight, but he has increased the grease of the economic wheels of the system that cares nothing if you are happy with the sights you see.

    As I sit and look out of my office window, I see an old detailed building with an amazing facade wide freeze on it. Seeing it is cool, but it does not make me want to buy insurance from them.

    As for public buildings, we have only ourselves to blame. The anti-tax and limit the government wing-nuts, of which we have a few on this board, nearly spasm with an epileptic fit at the thought we might put A gargoyle up at taxpayer expense let alone more. These types would have the citizenry build a government building with no windows, as windows are a inconceivable luxury. The majority of the citizenry has no appreciateion or lacks understanding or maybe just desire to stand up and defend thier environment.

    Any way, as a group we have gotten what we asked for, efficiency over all else.
    Hear, hear. I'm not happy about it, but I have to agree with the Duke.

    Was it Pogo that said, "I have seen the enemy, and it is us"?

    I think its also the concept of "design life" and the increasingly mobile, and thus transient, nature of American society. Why build "detail" into a building when that building's "design life" is maybe 20 years? The builders of yester-year built for the ages because they were "of the community". As capital, and people, have become more mobile we've retreated into our private landscapes (cars, cubicles, and homes with theatre quality "entertainment" systems).

    Mies'ian modernism was a marriage between the accountant and the architect.

  3. #53
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Hmmm.....

    Architecture has officially become a benefit only available to the RICH.........its a fact, just live with it people.


    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  4. #54
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Dear The One:

    Another reason to study hard, do right, work hard, and become rich.

    Otherwise, live with it!

  5. #55
    Cyburbian
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    The other extreme

    And then there is the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden.
    Lots of architectural detail, a new design every year, who said you only paid for what would last?
    An art gallery every year. Go to the bar and experience true whiskey on the rocks. In glasses sculpted in ice. and more..

    Design with a one year's life time in mind. But it doesn't have to be cheap for that. Since they do it every year up in Sweden's lapland, it must be paying for itself.

    Look at it at http://www.icehotel.com/Winter/ and check out the details

  6. #56
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Streck View post
    Dear The One:

    Another reason to study hard, do right, work hard, and become rich.

    Otherwise, live with it!
    scratch work hard, i would say work smartly and be in the right place at the right time, and become rich

  7. #57
    Member Oz_developer's avatar
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    By detailling are we talking classicism, gothic etc? Building something with that kind of detail today would look a bit pretentious no? "Look at me, I appreciate beauty more than you coarse, ill educated drones."

    Well, that's what the Palladio houses that spring up from time to time here say to me. Neo-classicism just screams NAZI and as for gothic gargoyles and frescos, well they would just seem a bit pointless in a country that didn't have a brick structure until 1788.

  8. #58
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Oz_developer View post
    By detailling are we talking classicism, gothic etc? Building something with that kind of detail today would look a bit pretentious no? "Look at me, I appreciate beauty more than you coarse, ill educated drones."

    Well, that's what the Palladio houses that spring up from time to time here say to me. Neo-classicism just screams NAZI and as for gothic gargoyles and frescos, well they would just seem a bit pointless in a country that didn't have a brick structure until 1788.
    I think you might be confusing architectural detail with ornament. Ornaments, such as gargoyles, moldings, key stones, buttresses, paneling, etc. are a particular type of architectural detail used to embellish or exaggerate a part of a building (either in the interior or exterior). Architectural styles (gothic, renaissance, baroque, romanesque, georgian, federal, "colonial") all have certain salient characteristics that help define the particuilar style. For example, the New England Salt Box home can be rich in architectural detail (long pitched roof that slopes down the back, the flat front and central chimney, narrow wood siding, and no shutters) while at the same time being devoid of major ornament.

    Some types of architectural ornament borders on obsessiveness and vulgarity and were often viewed as such by people at the time (or by their successors). The White House is a good example: throughout the second half of the nineteenth century, many of the rooms became very Victorian/Second Empire through the Buchanan, Johnson, Grant, Hayes, and Harrison administrations, even though the shell of the building was really a simple federal style. It took the Truman, Kennedy, Nixon, Clinton, and Bush adminstrations to bring much of the home back to its roots.

  9. #59
    Member Oz_developer's avatar
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    Ah that makes more sense. As I read through the thread I thought everyone was crying for a return to gargoyles and clomuned facades and was much confused!

  10. #60
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    Google up some images of work by Richard Maier, Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, and Arata Isozaki if you want to see some well-detailed work in the modernist idiom. In some cases you might just see cast concrete walls, but the finish will be very precise, the indentations that marked the locations of the pieces that held the form liners together will be precisely located on a grid, the corners crisp and true. Stonework will be well thought out with no odd-size pieces butting up against a wall.

    Around here and throughout the southwest, you see so many "traditional" architectural details like window surrounds, pilasters and arches with keystones rendered in stucco. It looks ridiculous and annoys the hell out of me! Its like you know you're being lied to. The actual purposes that those details served are a thing of the past. At one time they had a structural function that was just dressed up a little. E.G. you can't have a functioning stone or brick arch w/o a keystone. But now its just pointless, and they've cheapened the methods of doing it so much so that it only bears a cartoonish resemblance to what it is supposed to be. I don't know how these guys can take pride in their work, knowing that they produce crap day after day.

  11. #61
    Member Oz_developer's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater View post
    Google up some images of work by Richard Maier, Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, and Arata Isozaki if you want to see some well-detailed work in the modernist idiom. In some cases you might just see cast concrete walls, but the finish will be very precise, the indentations that marked the locations of the pieces that held the form liners together will be precisely located on a grid, the corners crisp and true. Stonework will be well thought out with no odd-size pieces butting up against a wall.
    Too right. Look up Aurora Place in Sydney, an office block by Renzo Piano. The interface at street level is excellently done with a frosted glass and ceramic tile facade. The ceramic looks amazing, the new material of the 21st century I reckon.



    As for the claim that cost effective building building produces crappy architecture, that depends on the relationship between the rent per sqm, build cost per sqm, and commercial real estate yield. Yields and building cost are unlikely to vary much nationally, so the biggest factor is going to be the achievable rent. In major centres (Manhattan, London Tokyo etc) the rents are always going to be high, and hence you tend to see the building with all the trimmings there. Municipal authorities can assist in keeping rents high in more marginal CBD's (or downtowns I think they're called in the US) by restricting to a degree the allowable densities on commercial sites. Commercial developers aim for a return of 15-30% give or take, depending on the finance, structuring and tax situation. Tenants will not pay outrageous rents for rubbish buildings, so the extra profit will be spent on the building. No accounting for taste of course, but an effort will be made

  12. #62
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    Architectural Ornamentation Photography

    ...Around here and throughout the southwest, you see so many "traditional" architectural details... The actual purposes that those details served are a thing of the past. At one time they had a structural function that was just dressed up a little...

    As a photographer who has amassed a body of work devoted to the subject of architectural ornamentation, I found this discourse both relevant and interesting. It was the beauty and character of these forms that initially attracted me. My intent has been to bring these often overlooked building embellishments to the public's attention and also to preserve them in their current state through the medium of photography. If interested, you can view my collection entitled 'Vanishing Treasures' (images photographed in Philadelphia, PA) at:
    www.youtube.com/twoStopsOver

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