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Sullivan's spectacular masterpiece Guarantee Building

steel

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#61
jaws said:
The difference is that these styles were evolved by many architects and not invented as some grand experiment by a starchitect with too much money. Evolution in modern architecture is forbidden. You are not allowed to bring back elements of Egyptian or Greek style or Gothic style. They wouldn't be "of the time", regardless if they ever were, regardless if they still perfectly work. In modern architecture everything must be completely new and completely invented. Because the odds of arriving at a succesful solution by pure invention are infinitesemally low, we end up with a landscape of garbage architecture.

Evolutionary architecture takes an examplar of a solution that has been proven to work and then applies a transformation to that solution to solve a contemporary problem. This is what the roman architects did by adopting greek architecture, this is what the renaissance architects did by adapting roman architecture, and the baroque architect did the same with renaissance architecture, and the modern architects did the same with the baroque until modernism declared the practice to be taboo. Architecture changed considerably through all these transformations, but it always kept the succesful recurring elements.

There are two ways to do architecture today. There are experimentalists who demand the freedom to do anything they want in anyway they want using whatever is fashionable at the time (the zeitgeist). They demand that architecture be of its time. And there are the evolutionists who believe that most problems of architecture have already been solved and that studying and reproducing the solutions of the past will achieve the greatest architecture civilization has ever seen. Are you sure you are siding with the right team?
To say that modern architecture has no influence from the past and that it did not evolve is to show your lack of understanding of its history. To say that it was invented by one person is beyond incorrect. You say you appreciate and love Sullivan's work and yet his career was spent fighting against historicism in architecture.

The argument is not going to be won and no one is going to change their mind.

Precident form the past is valuable until society advances to a point were the precident is no longer valuable.

Rocketships and buggies are both used as transportation but is there a reason to put wagon wheels on the rocket ship because the wagon wheels worked so well for so many 1000's of years?

Yes I believe that I am on the correct team. I am on the team that believes that each generation can and does add to the sum total of our knowledge and that it is always possible to advance to a new and better and or different level in the arts, humanities and in Science. I also believe in the value of history and what has come before and that it is ireplaceable. That is a key word becasue I believe that by trying to replace the ireplaceable you end up diminsihing the original historic item not to mention the oportunities you have passed up.

You on the other hand believe that man has advanced as far as can be done and there is no reason to try to do any better. That is a very sad world to live in. So yes I do believe that I have chosen the correct team. In all your love of history it is very odd that you can not see how shallow it is to place imitation historic buildings next to the real thing.

I just don't get it.
 
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Jack

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#62
steel said:
Precident form the past is valuable until society advances to a point were the precident is no longer valuable.
But when is it no longer valuable? Who decides? What opportunities are possibly missed because an architect is discuraged from looking back at "invaluable precidents?"

steel said:
Rocketships and buggies are both used as transportation but is there a reason to put wagon wheels on the rocket ship because the wagon wheels worked so well for so many 1000's of years?
There's a big difference between rocket ships and architectural styles. If you must liken architecture to something, liken it to painting or sculpture. Artists today still look back at Renaissance and even pre-historic art for influence.

steel said:
Yes I believe that I am on the correct team. I am on the team that believes that each generation can and does add to the sum total of our knowledge and that it is always possible to advance to a new and better and or different level in the arts, humanities and in Science. I also believe in the value of history and what has come before and that it is ireplaceable. That is a key word becasue I believe that by trying to replace the ireplaceable you end up diminsihing the original historic item not to mention the oportunities you have passed up.
It's good that you know the importance of preservation - a lot of modernists do not, and complain when a modern building gets scrapped because old buildings are in the way. But historicism isn't about replacing the past, it's about using historic rules and elements to create new buildings.

A lot about modernism just seems so arbitrary to me. I just don't get it. With modernism, styles have experation dates. It makes no sense.
 

jaws

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#63
steel said:
Rocketships and buggies are both used as transportation but is there a reason to put wagon wheels on the rocket ship because the wagon wheels worked so well for so many 1000's of years?
It's funny that you make a comparison between rocketships and buggies as though one was obsolete. As far as I can tell wheels are still universally used for transportation, and rockets are extremely rare. We don't use personal rocket jetpacks to move around, we use cars and bicycles on wheels.

The buggy is still a more universal a form of transportation than rockets because it simply works better than a rocket for the vast majority of our transportation needs.
 

steel

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#64
Actually I bet more tonnage is carried by rockets than by buggies. By the way you don't see auto makers putting buggy wheels on cars either. I bet they could not sell a car with buggy wheels yet that is exactly what you want for buildings
 

jaws

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#65
Rockets carry barely nothing in tonnage. Once in a while a few astronauts, maybe a satellite or two. The reason: it's ridiculously expensive to move 'tonnage' by rocket. The old ways are still the best ways.

The wheels on cars are essentially the same design as any previous wheels. They're round, they have spokes, they turn. The materials have changed, but a wheel is still a wheel. So yes I do want them to put a cart wheel on a car, because I dare not possibly imagine what kind of horrible malfunctioning car Rem Koolhaas would design when his idea of a library looks like a glass mothership.
 
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#66
You could make a much more effective argument for evolution in architecture if you were to look at green/ecological design. There are valid reasons for designing buildings that produce less waste, use less energy, have better air quality, help clean the air around them, filter pollutants from runoff, etc. If you'd rather create elaborate concepts divined from the writings of Jaques Derrida, you can get some stuff with really heady intellectual merit. You can have all the academic types fawning over it and the architectural press putting out pages and pages of glossy photos of it. Its ultimately clever architecture, not smart architecture. Why do so many architects want to ensconce themsleves in the high-minded temple of intellectualism? I like buildings that make you think, but do we really need that right now? I would much rather see the average 7-Eleven, gas station, or subdivision get touched by the hand of a talented designer, but such place are few. Architects have lost control of much of what gets built in the US.
 

BKM

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#67
The interesting thing is I do like modern, even out-there architecture in its proper place and at the proper scale. I waste tons of money on architecture magazines and books. (A true wannabe, maybe. I just realize I have no "creative sense of design" myself, sadly.)

To be a contrarian to my own posts, I must confess that when I visit the links at the Institute for Classical Architecture, I find most of the work being done by self-styled traditionalist architects banal and absolutely awful. Slavish copying of past styles, not updating a living tradition. Yuck. Even given the money I would not want to live in a new house with carved plaster rosettes and elaborate chandeliers. And, that's what you see. Just more pompous, run-of-the-mill McMansions, if slightly more to canon.

I think boilerplate has a good point.

I like one postmodernist firm a lot: Moore/Ruble/Yudell. Still a lot of jokes and irony, but excellent detailing, human scale, local character. Their city hall for suburban Pleasant Hill, CA is an abosulte delight in site planning, color, form, and function (It may be too lighthearted for a "dignified" government building, but still...)

From the preface of a recent monograph: "They are in the business of bridging the gap between the avante garde and the reactionary. They make buildings that remember the familiar language of architecture, its roofs and windows and materials, its human scale, its wish to be inhabited, and its respect for context." (written by Robert Campbell)
 

steel

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#68
jaws said:
Rockets carry barely nothing in tonnage. Once in a while a few astronauts, maybe a satellite or two. The reason: it's ridiculously expensive to move 'tonnage' by rocket. The old ways are still the best ways.

The wheels on cars are essentially the same design as any previous wheels. They're round, they have spokes, they turn. The materials have changed, but a wheel is still a wheel. So yes I do want them to put a cart wheel on a car, because I dare not possibly imagine what kind of horrible malfunctioning car Rem Koolhaas would design when his idea of a library looks like a glass mothership.

Actually satelites weigh quite a bit more than a load of hay in rural China.


The roof and walls of a modern building work just like a historic building. They keep out the elements they shed rain. So just because they perform the same function does not mean they have to retain the same appearance as their historical precident. Modern cars do not have wheels mad of wood with wood spokes and a strip of iron plate nailed to the outer edge as a tread surface. As I said no car manufacturer will put buggy wheels on a new car. It would be silly wouldn't it?
 

abrowne

     
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#69
This is a bit ridiculous.

I believe, personally, that cladding our new buildings in vaguely historical kitsch is a bit questionable. Doing it well is also a bit questionable - in general, building a new structure to look old is deceitful. A bit of an affront to what is truly old. Farcical. That being said, we don't want an uncomfortable discord between an old historical block and a piece of new construction (brutalism comes to mind). Variation is ok. It IS OK to have DIFFERENT architectural styles border each other! It can only serve to highlight the differences and strengths of each, and make people look up and think about their surroundings! *gasp*

Worship of the old will never lead to good places. A measure of respect is warranted, sure, but why the total preoccupation with somehow not offending preexisting buildings? What about new ideas? We should not cast off the old but the creativity of the world at large in the moment should not necessarily be held second to what has already been figured out and made comfortable and widespread.
 

jaws

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#70
steel said:
Actually satelites weigh quite a bit more than a load of hay in rural China.
It doesn't matter what an individual satellite weighs. What matters is how individual satellite launches matter to people. They don't. 99% of the people on this planet have never seen a live rocket and never will. Carts however are ubiquitous. Add up the raw tonnage of goods moved by cars in China and India, along with goods moved by truck (a refined form of cart) and the ratio of goods moved by cart to rockets can only be expressed by exponentials. That is the first problem of modernism, the idea that carts are useless and obsolete, and that everything should be a rocket. That is simply not true. Rockets are the exception and will always be so.

Modernism refuses to recognize that the traditional form of the building is still perfectly adequate to the needs of modern society, and more often than not is more adequate than the modernist alternative. Traditional architects are not being "historicists". They are building for contemporary needs because those needs haven't changed throughout history. Only our tools have changed, but tools don't affect the form of the solution, they only make it easier to achieve.

Modernist architecture is a step backwards pretending to be a step forward using pseudoscientific language. This is why I'm against it. It is not progress. It is destructive.
The roof and walls of a modern building work just like a historic building. They keep out the elements they shed rain. So just because they perform the same function does not mean they have to retain the same appearance as their historical precident.
The appearance of the historical precedents was a large part of their function, they created harmony and added to the beauty of the landscape. When these appearances were rejected the function was diminished and the quality of architecture in general faltered. Bringing back the elements that were wiped away with authenticity will restore the full function of buildings. As I said modernist buildings, even though they have walls, are worse than the new buildings because they miss the key elements that make buildings good, and their attempts to achieve a substitute for them will always fail because they reject the one true solution that every culture has reached independently in their architecture, the expression of life.

Christopher Alexander put the argument together much better than me. You should read the essays at http://www.katarxis3.com if you want to better understand my point of view.
 

Luca

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#71
abrowne said:
...building a new structure to look old is deceitful...
They're not built to look 'old'; they're built to look excellent.

Quality is timeless. Fashion and novelty are for people with no self-respect, no standards, no discernment.
 

abrowne

     
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#72
That's a bit of a broad statement, Luca. You've just singlehandedly decided that all that is new is bad. I think your principles are sabotaging you. This entire conversation is way too polarized - no one is being reasonable at all.

And I think you have taken my very moderate statement and thrown it into the opposite corner of the ring simply because an element of it disagreed with you slightly. I like older buildings. I agree that classical styles have great architectural merit, probably because they were tweaked over time as compared to what is shown in frenzied developments of today (where entire towns can appear in a matter of months). I'm not an idiot, I'm not a destroyer of all that is good and sacred and holy and nice to live in. I'm not a Rem Koolhaus or an urban renewalist by any stretch of the imagination. But to cast off ALL that is new is absolutely ridiculous and a completely indefensible position, period.

There was a time when our precious classical styles were novel. There is no reason that they cannot be novel again, and continually tweaked with, explored, mistakes made, revamped. Expression is always in flux.

As for my comment about building a new structure to look old being deceitful, I propose this on motive. Often a new building in a historical district is built in a loose classical style simply to fit in (or try), and by extension, "look old" and commit a fraud. There is no reason that you cannot combine a compatible classical style with some novel tweaks or features. You can represent the excellent existing architectural ideas and still represent the world as it is today, or, ideas as they are today.
 
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steel

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#73
jaws said:
It doesn't matter what an individual satellite weighs. What matters is how individual satellite launches matter to people. They don't. 99% of the people on this planet have never seen a live rocket and never will. Carts however are ubiquitous.
99% 0f the people on the planet benefit from the payloads launched by rockets.

jaws said:
Add up the raw tonnage of goods moved by cars in China and India, along with goods moved by truck (a refined form of cart) and the ratio of goods moved by cart to rockets can only be expressed by exponentials. That is the first problem of modernism, the idea that carts are useless and obsolete, and that everything should be a rocket. That is simply not true. Rockets are the exception and will always be so.
No, modernism says that cars are cars and carts are carts and further says that cars should not have wagon wheels. You on the otherhand prefer the quaint look of the wagon wheels and wish cars did not move so fast. (besides who needs neumatic wheels when solid iron treads have worked for thousands of years and do not get flats)

jaws said:
Modernism refuses to recognize that the traditional form of the building is still perfectly adequate to the needs of modern society, and more often than not is more adequate than the modernist alternative. Traditional architects are not being "historicists". They are building for contemporary needs because those needs haven't changed throughout history.
And this argument sounds logical to you? Needs have not changes throughout history, This is your argument?

jaws said:
... and their attempts to achieve a substitute for them will always fail because they reject the one true solution that every culture has reached independently in their architecture, the expression of life.
So there is one true solution to design?

jaws said:
Christopher Alexander put the argument together much better than me. You should read the essays at http://www.katarxis3.com if you want to better understand my point of view.
I know of Christopher Alexander and I have all of his over priced books. He has a lot of great points many of them extremely idealistic and most of them are in perfect harmony with what can be achieved in contemporary architecture.
 

BKM

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#74
jaws said:
Christopher Alexander put the argument together much better than me. You should read the essays at http://www.katarxis3.com if you want to better understand my point of view.
Katarxis is pretty excellent, my sneaking enjoyment of "disunctional" modern architecture aside. Alexander does build to a certain taste, of course. He is a product of the Bay Area/Berkeley.

Steel: you continue to argue against straw men, completely and repeatedly missing the point.

No, modernism says that cars are cars and carts are crts and further says that cars should not have wagon wheels. You on the otherhand prefer the quaint look of the wagon wheels and wish cars did not move so fast. (besides who needs neumatic wheels when solid iron treads have worked for thousands of years and do not get flats)
Besides missing his point entirely (that the fundamental form of "wheels" has not changed) you ignore the reality that "modernism," if applied to cars like it is applied to elite buildings, would give us lumbering boxes on triangular tread systems with tiny narrow slits for windows and ill-functioning heating and air conditioning systems that would require a retrofit that costs as much as the entire vehicle did when built. Modernism has not been about function and form for decades. Ignoring the fact that emotional appeal, loocal and regional cultural traditions, and human comfort are as much part of the "function" of a building as anything.



And this argument sounds logical to you? Needs have not changes throughout history, This is your argument?
Basic needs for shelter, comfort, lighting, air circulation, have not changed. Certainly not enough to warrant buildings with slashing angles and artifical materials that, surprise, cost more, decay more quickly, and don't provide as much comfort.



{quote}So there is one true solution to design?{/quote}

Coming from a modernist, this is laughable. No style/ideology of building has been mnore doctrinaire, more narrow-minded, more repressive. As Tom Wolfe described them, "The Compounds" ruled high style architecture. So you know what happened-most of the world simply ignored modernism entirely after about 1960. You have already lost the war.

I know of Christopher Alexander and I have all of his over priced books. He has a lot of great points many of them extremely idealistic and most of them are in perfect harmony with what can be achieved in contemporary architecture.
Perjorative ad hominem attacks (besides, ALL academic and most architecture books are "expensive" What's your point and how does this bit of snideness advance your argument?)

Christopher Alexander would certainly consider himself a "modern' architect. The arts and crafts infulences in his work are certainly more closely tied to function, materials, structural form, etc. than most "clouds of amorphouse steel" architects.
 
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jaws

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#75
steel said:
And this argument sounds logical to you? Needs have not changes throughout history, This is your argument?
That's exactly the problem with modernism. They thought that modernity had created a new man and that a new kind of architecture had to be invented. It didn't. People are exactly the same as they were 1000 or 10,000 years ago. We do know more about what they like today, and they certainly don't like modernist architecture. Only architects seem to like that stuff.
So there is one true solution to design?
There are some solutions which are objectively better than other solutions, but the ratio between the two is so small that pure invention can never hope to achieve them. Evolution from previously successful solutions is the best method we have to reach objectively good solutions.

I know of Christopher Alexander and I have all of his over priced books. He has a lot of great points many of them extremely idealistic and most of them are in perfect harmony with what can be achieved in contemporary architecture.
This is like the equivalency fallacy of comparing the conclusions of Alexander to Derrida. No, Alexander's ideas are not in perfect harmony with contemporary architecture. They refute contemporary architecture as innapropriate to human needs. All of the principles of the modern school must be abandoned to create work compatible with Alexander's findings.

BKM said:
Katarxis is pretty excellent, my sneaking enjoyment of "disunctional" modern architecture aside. Alexander does build to a certain taste, of course. He is a product of the Bay Area/Berkeley.
There's nothing wrong with enjoying a certain piece of dysfunctional architecture just like there's nothing wrong with slowing down and watching a car accident in the opposite lane. That doesn't mean that car accidents should be a regular feature of public entertainment.
 
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BKM

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#76
jaws said:
All of the principles of the modern school must be abandoned to create work compatible with Alexander's findings.
ALL of the principles? ALL modernism? Not sure I would go this far. There are too many modernist buildings that work well, that I enjoy. I still, for example, would rather live in a Pierre Koenig glass house than a classical McMansion designed by the "traditionalists" on the ICA website. That may be just me.

Now, a city street-even modernist townhomes can be attractive, finely crafted, and well-formed. (They often aren't-which makes clear that modernism is a poor language for creating a strong urban vernacular)
 

Jack

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#77
abrowne said:
There is no reason that you cannot combine a compatible classical style with some novel tweaks or features. You can represent the excellent existing architectural ideas and still represent the world as it is today, or, ideas as they are today.
This what I keep advocating, yet I seem to repeatedly fail to communicate my point based on the replies my posts have gotten.

As I've probably said before, my favorite period for architecture is the 19th century. The buildings from the time are so free and unihibited by ideology. Individuals could have a personal philosophy (like Louis Sullivan) and do whatever they did best, be it historicism or something completely new and original.

I kind of wonder if an architect like Sullivan (someone who designs original non-"historicy" buildings) would even be taken seriously today by modernists. Sullivan's buildings are covered top to bottom with "dishonest" ornament, after all.

Modernism, as far as I can tell, stamps out a lot of creativity and freedom in architecture. You can be as open minded and inventive as you want providing you don't break this rule or that rule. You can't make the building too close to an existing style because it is dishonest, you can't decorate it too much since that would be dishonest too, and you can't look at that for guidance or inspiration because we have deemed it to be "no longer valuable."

I have no problem with some architects choosing to follow those rules, but to expect every architect to do so is silly.
 

steel

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#78
BKM said:
Now, a city street-even modernist townhomes can be attractive, finely crafted, and well-formed. (They often aren't-which makes clear that modernism is a poor language for creating a strong urban vernacular)
You say this as if there are not reams of poorly crafted fake historic buildings being put up as if pretend historic = good craft. That realtionship can not be shown to be true (see previously posted historicy images)

Lets keep the argument on track. Everyione is against poor design and poor craft. Niether of these atributes is part of the definition of contemporary architecture and.


Today's society has devalued architecture and as such is suffering the consequences of poorly designed environments and poor craft. (which is most heavily felt in the suburbs where architects have the least influence on design.)
 

jaws

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#79
Jack said:
This what I keep advocating, yet I seem to repeatedly fail to communicate my point based on the replies my posts have gotten.

As I've probably said before, my favorite period for architecture is the 19th century. The buildings from the time are so free and unihibited by ideology. Individuals could have a personal philosophy (like Louis Sullivan) and do whatever they did best, be it historicism or something completely new and original.
The École des Beaux-Arts, which was de facto the center of architectural doctrine for the 19th century, advocated eclecticism. The architects who came out of Beaux-Arts were radically progressive in their use of new forms and materials. The application of new ideas were however intended to be extensions of the existing body of knowledge. This way any new idea was immediately part of the proven and tested whole. It's true that the late 19th century was the greatest era for architecture because it combined for the first time a large number of competent architects with increasing popular affluence.

Modernism was destructive because it declared the existing body of knowledge to be obsolete, therefore any new idea has no foundation to build on. Modernism is aimless, directionless. Progress is impossible because no one knows where they are headed.
steel said:
You say this as if there are not reams of poorly crafted fake historic buildings being put up as if pretend historic = good craft. That realtionship can not be shown to be true (see previously posted historicy images)

Lets keep the argument on track. Everyione is against poor design and poor craft. Niether of these atributes is part of the definition of contemporary architecture and.

Today's society has devalued architecture and as such is suffering the consequences of poorly designed environments and poor craft. (which is most heavily felt in the suburbs where architects have the least influence on design.)
You reap what you sow don't you? Architecture is devalued today because for three generations the architectural establishment has sought to impose upon the population a form of architecture that is nihilistic and creates anxiety. It should be obvious by now that people hate modernist architecture. Why do you expect them to pay an architect to design a building they will hate?

Because the education of competent architects was purged, the ability of the population to access the architecture they want, the traditional architecture, disappeared. Their only alternative was to do it themselves. They do what they can from reading magazines, but talent is missing and it shows. Strangely traditionalists who design houses for New Urbanism projects are selling houses at a premium over the rest of the market. It appears that people respect good architecture after all, it has just been denied to them since the takeover by modernism.

Modernism has made good classical architecture the privilege of the wealthy elite. It's time be more democratic and design good buildings for the rest of the population as well. I guarantee you that they will become more receptive of the opinion of architects as a result.
 

steel

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#80
New urbanism has nothing to do with fake historic architecture. If anything it is poorly interpreted fake hsitoricism that is killing new urbanism. As a matter of fact Seaside Florida the wealthy enclave responsible for the growth in popularity of new urbansim has many conteporary buildings within its boundaries. If you talk to the Director of the Council on New Urbanism (he is the former mayor of Milwaukee) he will also tell you that new urbanism has nothing to do with creating fake historic buildings.


I will say it again puting fake historic detail on a new building has nothing to do with making the building high quality.

As for the popularity of contemporary architecture I think you should look again. Some examples.

1. Dwell magazine. a monthly journal aimed at regular joes as well as professionals is one of the fasted growing magazines in the country. It is dedicated to showing quality budget oriented contemporary houses and is making great waves in the architectural community.

2. You have heard of the Bilbao affect? The Guganheim, a somewhat outrageous modern structure by Gehry is credited with truning the fortunes of this slumbering Spanish industrial towns. It seems that people will travel from all over to see this modern building.

3. Millennuim Park in Chicago. Another project with a major Gehry presence. This park is filled with astonishing modern architetcure and scuptures. It attracts 10's of thousands of people each day. The major failure that has been sighted for this project is its original plan which was set early in the design stages by SOM of Chicago. Many have complained that the original Baux Arts paln is dull and ridged and does not allow for interaction of elements. Also some of the earlier historic elementsand structures are poor scaleless replicas of historic peices which seem out of place and poorly detailed. Basically peoplel are comming for the spectacular modernism not the dry dull fake historic.
 
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