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« Gyro | Main | Pollan and Taubes and Kunstler »

February 21, 2008

Architecture Linkage

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Charles Siegel thinks that John Silber's new anti-starchitecture book doesn't go far enough in its condemnation of absurd buildings.

* Charles Siegel is also the author of a small new book that I just finished reading with a great deal of pleasure, "An Architecture for Our Time: The New Classicism." In the first part of his book, Siegel brings us up to the present: How have we come to be living in a world where absurd architecture is the standard / accepted thing? Charles supplies the best short answer to this question that I've ever read. In the second half of the book, he offers an argument for reviving architectural classicism. It's the book's manifesto section, and it's stirring and stimulating --- you don't have to agree with Charles' every point to find a visit with his mind and his thoughts very rewarding. Let me add that the book is beautifully scaled: While it's a short, fast, and fun read, the amount of knowledge, experience, brains, and wisdom that Charles packs in per word is awfully impressive. As a writer / publisher, Charles is resourceful and entrepreuneurial. He offers a book of idiosyncratic length -- as long as it needs to be but no longer -- in hard-copy, HTML, and downloadable-PDF versions. Snag a copy here. Charles runs the Preservation Institute and blogs here.

* Sigh: Some atrocious concrete-bunker-style high-rise apartment buildings a few blocks from where I live in Greenwich Village may soon be officially declared landmarks -- yet another example of how the preservation movement (which was founded in order to combat the depradations of architectural modernism) has been captured by establishment modernists. Benjamin Hemric, who often offers erudite and insightful commentary here at 2Blowhards, gets off a number of informed and sensible comments on the New York Times's blogposting about the brouhaha.

* MBlowhard Rewind: Back here, I wrote about the hideosity of the modernist urban form known as "towers in the park," and included a couple of snapshots of the awful I.M. Pei buildings that may now be declared landmarks.



posted by Michael at February 21, 2008


Michael, thanks for the tip regarding Siegel's book.

The preservation thing is a tricky intellectual problem. When I was young, just about everyone (including me, I confess) thought those old brick warehouses and Victorian houses were pretty awful and that destroying them would be no real loss. Since then, minds have changed. So, in theory it's possible that lots of that t-square and triangle modernist stuff will bring tears of nostalgia and torrents of thanks for having preserved them. Mind you, I hope not. But you never know till you get there in X years.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on February 21, 2008 10:40 PM

The "depradations of architectural modernism"? Nice portmanteau word, combining sex (depravations) and violence (depredations). Or perhaps it's just plain old-fashioned bad spelling. Even if it is, I still can't tell which you mean.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on February 22, 2008 12:37 AM

You would be so proud of me....I fairly recently wrote a letter to our local paper complaining about the new construction projects in our town. They look like the office parks down by the airport, I said! And I meant it.

I have to say, being massively grumpy suits me to a T.

Posted by: MD on February 22, 2008 3:56 PM

I really enjoyed your post on the T.I.P. I read it twice. thanks for the link.

Before I read it, I was excited about proposals in my neighborhood to build tall apartment buildings. Tall apartment buildings might increase population density and revive commercial aspects of the neighborhood.

Now I'm not so sure.

Posted by: thehova on February 23, 2008 6:44 AM

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