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« Eeeek | Main | Rightie Linkage »

January 10, 2007

The Invisible Hand Is Back

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Now here's how architecture criticism ought to be written!



posted by Michael at January 10, 2007


Yep. That there was one mighty fine tirade if I say so myself.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on January 10, 2007 6:46 PM

Great link, Michael. The vitriol seaping through was well-placed. I'd attended McGill University, which has some gorgeous buildings, but this one, the Bronfman Business School Building, was hideous in its outward appearance and absolutely depressing inside. The pictures of Boston City Hall in the article brought back lousy memories of attending classes in the Bronfman, a soul-sucking edifice if there ever was one.

Posted by: DarkoV on January 11, 2007 8:09 AM

That was the critique of modern architecture I've been waiting all my life for. It was worth the wait.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on January 11, 2007 9:29 AM

That's a great piece. New Haven, close to where I live, has several er, fine examples, as he notes. I don't mind the Yale Architecture school as much, at least from the outside, but the nearby Yale University Art Gallery has always grated on my nerves. Check this admiring quote:

[The building] represented a dramatic point of departure for American museum architecture as a whole. Constructed of brick, concrete, glass, and steel, and presenting a windowless wall along its most public fa├žade, the building was a radical break from the neo-Gothic buildings that characterize much of the campus, including the adjacent Swartwout building.

Sounds inviting, no? No. And there's the horrible East Rock Magnet School, which I pass every day, and which looks like a series of sheds to house road graders. Sheds made out of dark grey concrete, that is. This is about as good as it can be made to look - note the gauzy "Barbara Walters filter" effect.

Posted by: Derek Lowe on January 11, 2007 10:23 AM

Now, I'd like to invite Mr.Murphy to visit Bronx Family Court which our firm is having a hell of a time now trying to come up with a plan to renovate...

Posted by: Tat on January 11, 2007 11:28 AM

I grew up in the Boston area. I can confirm that the building is hated. As it should be. The comment by somebody on the post is funny, basically saying that you don't get to have an opinion if you have not actually build a building. Horseshit. The owners get to decide whether a building is any good. And the owners of City Hall are the people of Boston. If you took a vote today they'd all agree it is a terrible building.

The article's attack on "experts" is very apt.
A board-certified neurosurgeon who has written ten peer-reviewed journal articles? That's an expert. Some guy who has a theory about how rough-edged concrete is a good exterior building material for a public building? That aint no expert. Academic credentials in anything other than the hard sciences and engineering are NO indication whatsoever of the value of a person's ideas and theories. In the more humanistic fields these days such credentials are inversely correlated, e.g. English professors are less valuable guides to good literature than are well-read amateurs.

I hope to see the day that building is torn down.

Death to the 60s.

Posted by: Lexington Green on January 12, 2007 9:05 AM

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