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October 09, 2006

More Glass

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Stop the presses: Architecture critic praises glassy geometrical building-thing! The whole piece is a not-to-be-missed, unwitting and rich self-parody. But here's one especially hilarious passage:

Minimalist architecture deserving of the name pares itself down not in the pursuit of style points but in an effort to frame the relationship between solid and void, nature and culture, and color and its absence -- and to explore how the eye sees and the mind understands those differences.

I'll have two of those, fried and over easy!

Where do these people get their brainwashings, er, educations? And what is it about a certain kind of architect (and architecture buff) that finds the idea of living in a department store's sparkly perfume-bottle counter so thrilling?

More pix here. I wrote here about the kinky relationship many architects have with glass.



posted by Michael at October 9, 2006


The brainwashing relates to the fact that you will more likely be promoted if you agree with the opinions of your betters, er, professors. Yes, I know this is an obvious thing to say, but it just really makes me happy to type such obviousness out: the academy is getting on my very last nerve these days.

*Look, I like the glass boxes far more than most who comment here, but even I can see it's not anything new. It's like the new 'fullness' in fashion these days (and don't those Max Mara coats make people look like cows?) I mean, shouldn't the new thing be ornateness by now? Of course, that would probably look like all kinds of awful too, given what you've shown me of the current architecture intellectualism. Eh, whatever.

Posted by: MD on October 10, 2006 8:19 AM

I thought you might be amused by the following, and written by a better writer than I:

As Tom Wolfe writes in his introduction to From Bauhaus to Our House,"O Beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, has there ever been another place on earth where so many people of wealth and power have paid for and put up with so much architecture they detested as within thy blessed borders today? . . . Every child goes to school in a building that looks like a duplicating-machine replacement-parts wholesale distribution warehouse . . . Every new $900,000 summer house in the north woods of Michigan or on the shore of Long Island has so many pipe railings, ramps, hob-tread metal spiral stairways, sheets of industrial plate glass, banks of tungsten-halogen lamps, and white cylindrical shapes, it looks like an insecticide refinery." And every building more than ten stories high is "a glass box." Even the architects themselves now use the term with a snigger.

Posted by: annette on October 10, 2006 10:29 AM

Nice to learn that at least one LATimes writer is a reactionary.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on October 10, 2006 11:41 AM

The Progressive Reactionary blog has some equally delightful neo-post-postmodern praise for this building:

" ... There's something going on in their architecture that really distinguishes them from the rest of the contemporary field. I'm not really sure what it is yet. Something to do with an understated play with reflection, light, and visual relationships."

"It's the irreducibility, the confusion, and the refusal of this work to be pigeonholed that makes it superb."

Personally, I feel that the building's magical appeal that the Progressive Reactionary can't quite articulate has to do with its transparency that questions transparency, its willingness to reach out to the viewer by means of a studied but not overstudied void, its curtain walls a curvilinear statement of sheer presence that knowingly dilutes its aesthetic greeting in favor of multiple levels of tension and reconciliation.

This is the finest example of office furniture store design I have seen in days.

Posted by: Rick Darby on October 10, 2006 2:43 PM

Second attempt with the same comment:

I glanced at the guy's blogroll, and saw a Daily Kos link.
No surprises there.

Posted by: Tat on October 10, 2006 2:48 PM

Rick, if this was an US office furniture store, they wouldn't be able to file it with the building department.

Having glass partitions where the exit route lies without clearly marking the glass with decals or other means at wheelchair-accessible level is against the code.

First responsibility of the architect/designer, before any aesthetics or even function of the building comes to be considered is "safety and welfare of the public" (leagal definition).

Posted by: Tat on October 10, 2006 3:58 PM

Hey! This so-called "Progressive Reactionary" (hah!) swiped our blog name!

Posted by: David Fleck on October 10, 2006 7:55 PM

Modernist minimalist criticism, that's what I want to see- "I rather like it. Now I am going off for an early extended lunch break".

It is weird to me that people spend their whole lives moaning about being too busy, yet they still have so much time on their hands they can spend literally hours inventing total b****cks like this. (I'm reading the book on Slow Living, good stuff!)

Posted by: Alice on October 11, 2006 12:45 PM

I think it should be clarified that this is a museum, not a personal living space. This type of architecture allows the user(s) maximum movement and to 'see beyond' the architecture, focusing on the work inside. It doesn't say sit down, have coffee, take a nap, etc. I believe it does what it is supposed to do, and that is to house art.

Posted by: david on October 11, 2006 6:33 PM

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