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Opinions of Cincinnati?

garethace

Cyburbian
Messages
137
Points
6
I don't know what natives or people who know Cincinnati that well, would have to say about this particular article. Aparently the Hadid building is being tauted as the 'best building in America'.

But i really think, journalist who haven't seen the building, or don't know anything about modern architecture are just getting a bit carried away now.

Hugh Pearman gives a slightly more balanced opinion of what he thinks of the building and the city:

http://www.hughpearman.com/articles4/hadid.html
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
I can see why the architectural community would consider that the best building in America. The exterior is objectively horrible. The author confuses "subtlety" with a complete lack of any redeeming features. How attractive can concrete be? It looks like sheet metal from a distance. Cincinnati may not be a "great European city" but compare that building with some of the classy historic buildings on page 2. I imagine the average Cincinnati resident must hate it, which in the architect's mind equals sophistication.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
Yeah, it's great. And then architects sit around and complain about how the've become irrelevant and that no one gives them "creative freedom" anymore.

I think the building looks like absolute sh*t.

Mod Edit: Mind your language
 

bocian

Cyburbian
Messages
212
Points
9
Quite a waste of building materials...
Why bother to build such buildings - to boost one's ego?
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
I actually think its kinda interesting. And, it follows the street line/meets the sidewalk, has an entrance that is actually visible, and has at least some windows. It could be far worse. The proof will be actually visiting it.

I think in general planners are pretty conservative when it comes to architecture???

The problem I have with this is that the "neotraditional" stuff-particularly the commercial architecture, is just plain bad. I would rather have sheet metal in interesting forms than the typical sprayed on styrofoam, Disneyesque poorly detailed "neo-Victorian" crap. (I still find Kunstler's attackes on bad modernism funny, but I really doubt taht everyone can live in an 1830 house in a spa town.)
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
Wow. I just read the article. That is the most pretentious rant I've ever read in my life.

I need to find out what the author looks like so I can be sure to shove his chichi nose into his plate of couscous should I ever have the misfortune of meeting him.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Monstrously ugly and it detracts from everything around it. There is no effort to set it into the context of its surroundings. The mark of a good building is how people regard it when it stands, and their sense of loss when it falls. The people of the city will rejoice the day when that thing comes down.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
jordanb said:
Wow.
I need to find out what the author looks like so I can be sure to shove his chichi nose into his plate of couscous should I ever have the misfortune of meeting him.
Damn, take/post a picture when you do;)

My opinion: Do not like the building, looks sterile, cold and not very functional. But again that is my opinion. Keep in mind my favorite color is ORANGE! GO VOLS!
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Most architectural critics are pretentious. I agree with Richmond-hold off a little bit until the building is complete and, ideally, until you actually experience it. Its easy to criticize photographs.

Now, you want to talk about an ugly, pretentious, crappy modern building, lets talk about that fraud Koolhas' new design for Seattle's library. Poor Seattle.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Huston (O/T)

You know why they call your team "the Vols" don't you?

Because the full name ("Volunteers") has three syllables, and the typical Tennessee fan has trouble with long words!!!!
 

Richmond Jake

You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!
Messages
18,286
Points
43
Another thought, if the building does fail, an old saying will apply: Doctors bury their mistakes, architects plant trees in front of theirs.
 

oulevin

Cyburbian
Messages
178
Points
7
Sure, it looks like a bunch of Jenga blocks with no rhyme or reason. But it's a contemporary art museum. What do you expect? It's supposed to be jarring. It would be more inappropriate if housed in a restored or neotraditional building. The people who patronize such museums aren't tried-and-true conservative types anyway.
 

garethace

Cyburbian
Messages
137
Points
6
I suggest this article for some very intelligent points made about 'the clients' of modern architecture. I.e. The city councils, local goverments etc. I.e. The kinds of people who would bring 'a Rem Koolhaas' type of giant in architecture into a city to design 'a feature symbol for the city'.

Are we collecting architecture, or are we creating architecture?


http://www.arcadejournal.com/v21_1txt7.html

I agree with Richmond-hold off a little bit until the building is complete and, ideally, until you actually experience it. Its easy to criticize photographs.
 

Otis

Cyburbian
Messages
5,165
Points
28
When I first looked at it I thought it was jarring, but these days an art museum apparently is supposed to be. I agree that it does not relate all that well to its context, but its context is nothing special, or even anything very nice. But my main problem with it is at the street level where the connection to the ground seems to be too spindly co,pared to the massing of the upper floors. There, how's that for pretentious architectural criticism from someone who knows nothing about architecture.

The photos of the interior remind me of the east wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. It was designed by I.M. Pei and is an absolute piece of non-functional crap. A critic called it a great shark's tooth of a building, and the description is apt. The Cincinnati building appears to have the same problems, but you can't always tell from photos.

There's a place in Alexandria, Virginia called the Hard Times Cafe that serves "Cincinnati-style" chili. If that is it's true origins, Cincinnati has redeeming social value.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
Re: Huston (O/T)

BKM said:
You know why they call your team "the Vols" don't you?

Because the full name ("Volunteers") has three syllables, and the typical Tennessee fan has trouble with long words!!!!
ouch, that hurt...

but I cant really argue;)
 

DecaturHawk

Cyburbian
Messages
880
Points
22
I like Cincinnati. I think the downtown is interesting, and the plans they have for the Fountain Square area will make it even better. The Over the Rhine neighborhood is very cool and hip, and will come back in a few more years after the riots are a more distant memory. Yes, there is a lot of work to be done, but Cincinnati is blessed with great topography and a great river, and time will yield great improvements That being said, they need to do more with their riverfront than just build stadia.
 

Greenescapist

Cyburbian
Messages
1,169
Points
24
Wow, I'm surprised to see so many different opinions on this building. Like someone else said, that buidling is for an art museum - so why not have a more modern, creative look. I think it looks interesting. It certainly looks nicer, in my opinion, than that crappy office tower next door.

An art museum should be externally expressive to show some energy, excitement of what is to come inside. I completely disagree with Rich Townsend who said that the National Gallery in DC is "a non-functional piece of crap." I think it's beautiful, interesting, well integrated with the street pattern (it's right on a real awkward triangular intersection) and perhaps it's most difficult achievement - compliments the gallery's old West Wing, which is a Greek Revival building (I think).

What do you all think of Frank Gehry's designs? I imagine most of you hate them. He has an amazing project in the works at MIT right now that I think will be refreshingly odd in their sterile mix of academic buildings. Or, what about the San Francisco MoMA? That is one of my favorites.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
MOMA rules-on the inside (I find it somewhat mute on the outside. I love the atrium, and the little catwalk at the top.

I agree with a lot of what you say, greenescapist. But, I also understand a lot of the reactions to modernism. Modernism only "works" in the hands of experts and the talented. It doesn't work very well as a vernacular. As Jim Kunstler's site so amusingly explores ("Eyesore of the Month"), there are not too many talented architects out there.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure our culture/economy/building industry can create good traditional buildings, either. The lack of craft, materials, and sense of proportion in "traditional" buildings is amazing. The modern neoclassical stuff that I have seen (in person and in photos) is utterly unmoving and lacking in spirit.

Its easy to complain, but I doubt that a fake "greek" temple with cast plastic columns and "Pottery Barn" detailing would look much better.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
I'm not usually a fan of modern architecture but I think Gehry would have done a better job than the Cincinatti architect. His buildings are among the most interesting in the world whether or not you like them. The Cincinatti one just looks like a damaged major appliance.

I like this Gehry one in Prague. Its very Gaudi (Gaudi always fit in with his neighbors) and its supposed to be inspired by Fred Estaire and Ginger Rogers.

http://www.salon.com/people/bc/1999/10/05/gehry/fred.jpg

Edit: OK, I don't like those columns supporting the upper stories
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
35
I actually kinda like the form, and the way it fits into the street. However...the lack of windows/glass really makes the structure seem unfriendly. Plus, I can just picture what the concrete is going to look like in 10 odd years...
 

garethace

Cyburbian
Messages
137
Points
6
Sure, it looks like a bunch of Jenga blocks with no rhyme or reason. But it's a contemporary art museum. What do you expect? It's supposed to be jarring. It would be more inappropriate if housed in a restored or neotraditional building. The people who patronize such museums aren't tried-and-true conservative types anyway.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think you have struck upon a very important point here, that of the architect and his/her relationship with the client and brief. When trying to interpret, criticise or understand any piece of modern architecture never underestimate the importance of the client architect relationship. Whenever i get a brief to design a theater, art gallery, research laboratory or any building, i try to look for case studies of such buildings around the world.

Then i will pay specific attention to how the architect dealt with the individual or organisation which was his/her client. Sometimes the client can change from one end of a project to an other - this is often the reason for poor design decisions etc, not the architect. Some architects like to show the client a number of ideas, and allow the client to pick one - giving the client themselves some feeling having picked out the one, of 'ownership' and participation in the design process. It works on the scale of house design, where the home occupier thats a certain deserved level of credit for what they have obtained as a built end result.

Steven Holl is very good at doing this - read about his church of the seven sacriments to understand how he managed to keep his seven towers even thought the budget was being cut by the client. Coop Himmelblau often treat there architecture for roof tops in central Vienna as 'Works of Art' and therefore not subject to normal planning guidelines - projects like their rooftop remodelling, which is about as far as an architect can go 'against the planning establishment'.

I am sure some of you here have hung around with art lovers, exhibition go-ers, cultural buffs etc. Just like Golf courses are not always too caring about ecology, nature and habitats - neither are art lovers ever too caring about urbanity.

The brief for a contemporary Art Museum or Gallery is very specific, that kind of client has very, very unique ideas and needs. Always ask yourself this question with buildings, what were the Arts community in Cincinnati using before they got their new Hadid-designed gallery?

Well, my guess is, the Art community probably rented some really old grotty, ugly, dis-used, abandoned bunker type managed to find somewhere around Cincinnati. Someplace that had hardly no windows, just huge big interior gallery spaces to hang, suspend, arrange, install, build and view/experience "ART" with capital letters. When art lovers and artists themselves go to view and to criticise Art in an exhibition, they never worry about the building and its contribution to urban living in downtown Cincinnati.

They just want a big enough, airy, neutral white wall painted environment, that allows you to focus intensely on what the art is saying. In so doing, the whole world outside is 'cut out', suspended temporarily. After visiting the exhibition, you will probably get out of there quickly and look for a trendy cafe or pub in the recreational area of Cincinnati to meet up with other artists, writers and intellectual to discuss the exhibition and the art.

I have extracted a couple of statements from the article, which describe the process or relationship developed between the architect, Hadid and the client Charles Desmarais.


The opening exhibition had far too much second-division conceptual stuff in it, but the experience of wandering from space to space was delightful.

"We chose her because she really understood contemporary art," says the CAC director, Charles Desmarais. "And we needed someone who could do a building that would symbolize the key values of the Contemporary Arts Center, would tie our programmes to the city in a much more direct way than before."

It is certainly a shop window for art.

Given that we're on a very tight urban corner, I'm thrilled at the array of spaces that we've got."

This is what generated the variety of spaces, while Desmarais' desire to engage with the community generated the foyer spaces. "I wanted to bring the outside in, with the idea of an urban carpet," says Hadid. "In the galleries, we didn't know what they would have there. So the idea was to make as many different 'found spaces' as possible.
Remember, a sucessful building is normally best studied from a point of view of architect AND the client. One of the nicest Scientific Research Laboratories ever built, is in California - The Salk Institute, for the client Salk who helped the Architect Louis Kahn to push himself. Kahn always stressed greatly the relationship between architect and client.

Once Kahn designed a dormitory for young school girls. Kahn realised there was something slightly unnatural about girls living away from home, so he decided to 'remind' them of the presence of a male figure, their father he would insert a fireplace into the social areas of the dormitory building. Reckoning the fireplace would remind them of fathers sitting beside the fireplace smoking a pipe.

Even look at Gehry designing the Music Project for Paul Allen or one of those big MicroSoft guns. Gehry now has his own company specifically dedicated toward developing computer technology for designing his architecture - so the match of client who wanted a building to say it's age - information technology and the architect Gehry was a good one i am sure. Jim Glymph is the genius at Gehry's practice who allows Gehry to build what he does and still remain in business as an architect. Prior to computers Gehry used to farm out all his working drawings, and lose most of his employees bonuses etc, to cost overruns, poor finishing, time overruns, you name it.

But my main problem with it is at the street level where the connection to the ground seems to be too spindly co,pared to the massing of the upper floors.
I am delighted someone mentioned that aspect to the design. That is what the journalist spoke about when he said, "The building wants to take over the two adjoining streets and some of the neighbouring buildings".

If you like the building design would lend itself better if placed upon a nice older European Square, with plenty of space to stand back from the building. One of those nice pedestrian squares like in Rome with people sitting in cafes, and discussing high brow topics like art and literature. What the 'arty' community in America would love, is someplace like a Hadid Gallery to show off how 'contemporary, hip and avant-garde' they are trying to be.
 
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oulevin

Cyburbian
Messages
178
Points
7
Frank Gehry

We've probably discussed Frank Gehry's work ad nauseum in this forum, but to answer Greenescapist, I'm generally a fan. I've been to the Experience Music Project in Seattle, and more recently, the Peter B. Lewis building for Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management (by far the most outrageous application of brick I've ever seen).

The voluptuousness and free-flowing character of his designs is unmistakable, but it's no secret he has an entire firm and the CATIA program to execute his surrealist imaginings. My point is, you've got to wonder if his work has reached a point similar to in-demand artists and designer labels -- no matter how they look, the fact that it's a "Gehry" makes it more valuable than than if it was a "Smith" produced by the same technology by the same staff.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
bocian said:
Why bother to build such buildings - to boost one's ego?
If you want to talk about ego boosting and bad architecture… How about this giant phallic symbol that Florida calls its capital?

Where were the planners’ checks n balances on this site design? Oh I am sure the architect has had many o good laughs about this one….

Here in FLA it is known as the C&B ;)
 
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jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
yeah, so from the picture it looks like the glass entrance is the only thing holding up that giant concrete slab. If i didn't know what it was i'd be scared to go in it.

Granted, i have to see it in person but it looks oppressive. It might be great set in it's own plaza but that street already has too much going on. This just makes it worse.
 
Messages
130
Points
6
Seabishop said:
I can see why the architectural community would consider that the best building in America. The exterior is objectively horrible. The author confuses "subtlety" with a complete lack of any redeeming features. How attractive can concrete be? It looks like sheet metal from a distance. Cincinnati may not be a "great European city" but compare that building with some of the classy historic buildings on page 2. I imagine the average Cincinnati resident must hate it, which in the architect's mind equals sophistication.
Hey, back off. Come visit and experience the building yourself. It is incredible.

Moreover, the investment CAC has made in the community and downtown is to be lauded. God knows Cinti needs all the image boosting it can get. The buzz and energy in the arts community surrounding the new CAC is amazing. The fact that many of the featured exhibits annoy/offend the uptight powers-that-be around here is icing on the cake.
 

garethace

Cyburbian
Messages
137
Points
6
Delighted to hear from you Andy, and delighted your appreciation of modern architecture is as healthy as you have shown here by posting a statement straight from experience and from the hart.

At the end of the day, all that architecture can hope to achieve is a reaction, an impulse, an emotional response from the participant. Unfortunately those things are rarely, if ever transmitted very well down an optical fibre strand! However, the posters here are just having their little bit of fun - they will not be the first people, or the last to eat their words having experienced a building AFTER writing bad words about it.

If you are in a bookstore some day, check out one of the most famous books on architecture ever pubished - Complexity and Contradiction by Robert Venturi. Some say that this book even invented Post Modernism, i haven't a clue. But my point is this, at one particular stage in his book Venturi, who had not ever visited a particular church in Italy, judged it from a photograph, published that photograph in his book explaining to everyone how terrible the building was.

In later editions, Venturi inserted a caption, or corrigenda saying: (Imagine cap in hand here) Well, guys yeah, i did say that then, But heh! Guess what, i was in Italy last summer and so i thought i would go and see that particular Church - and my God, it IS good after all. Sorry, for misleading you all. Regards, Robert Venturi and P.S. Apologises to the architect who designed it.

All that has changed nowadays, is that publishing an opinion to a wider audience doesn't have to mean printing onto paper back titles. On the other hand, look at how many people have just heard about a new Art Gallery in Cincinnati, by just reading this thread - i didn't even know Cincinnati existed, what it was like or what was there myself - until i say this article linked at a forum here in my own country:

www.irish-architecture.com

You can check out what they have to say there if you like:

http://www.archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?postid=13615#post13615

Naturally enough, none of those posters have ever been to Cincinnati either. I am good at spelling it now too am'nt i? Anyhow, it is a strange new world of communications we live in today. Lets hope for the best.
 
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BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Dittos, Garethace. Visit the building first! I'm not sure a huge plaza is necessary either. Cincinatti already has Fountain Square-does it need another public gathering place (especially as Fountain Square needs a little help).

At least it doesn't copy Cincinatti "Victorian Gothic" in fake, thin looking brick veneer and precast foam trim. THAT'S what bugs me about back-to-the-future design-its so cheap looking. We aint got millions of acres of virgin redwood or cheap labor to quarry and cut real stone anymore.
 

Runner

Cyburbian
Messages
566
Points
17
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Cincinnati recently disband their planning department and fold it under the economic development office?
 

garethace

Cyburbian
Messages
137
Points
6
Well i am very interested to hear your opinions on the quality of detailing and buildling of traditionalist buildings over there. Not all up to Bob Villa standards eh?

This is what passes for good design of housing using materials here in this country, i have visited the project in a tiny little village here in Limerick, Ireland and it is uncommon for its use of tinted render in strong colours, black terratzo, natural timber windows and nice landscaping.

http://www.irish-architecture.com/aai/journal/nine/desiun3.html

Of course none of that can experience of texture and materials will travel down the bandwidth to you.
 

garethace

Cyburbian
Messages
137
Points
6
I just noticed a good review about an Art Gallery today in my batch of e-mails. (Not checked for months)

http://www.architectureweek.com/2002/0424/design_1-1.html

there is another fabulous review here:

The American Folk Art Museum

45 West 53rd Street

http://www.thecityreview.com/afolkart.html

What i get from this article, is how important it is to walk around and experience a gallery or museum to fully appreciate the architecture. Since the design is all about viewing pieces in different spaces, different lighting conditions, different points of view - about spending the time with the 'exhibits' on display. This happens as you journey through the museum or gallery complex.

I have just started a new thread, on the Egpytian Museum competition winning architects here:

http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=7497

All comments are very welcome!
 
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