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« Whither Italy? | Main | Music for the Day: Delbert McClinton »

December 07, 2008

Name Changed, Guilty Protected

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

I noticed the following announcement in the latest issue of the University of Washington alumni magazine:

Effective Jan 1, the UW College of Architecture and Urban Planning will be renamed College of Built Environments [bold in original]. The Board of Regents approved the name change on Sept. 18. Dean Daniel S. Friedman says that the college is increasingly focused on sustainable practices and environmental quality, and that the new name is a way of making that official. "'College of Built Environments' better reflects our core responsibility to 21st century challenges -- urbanization, climate change and livable communities," Friedman says.

Urban planning was always highly political. But now architecture has completed its transformation from art to politics -- at the University of Washington, in any event.

"Hey Joe, what's your son up to these days?"

"Well, he graduated from the U-Dub last spring and now he's a Built Environmentalist."

One more reason to ignore the UWs pleas for monetary contributions from alumni. (State sales taxes provide core funding in any case.)

Later,

Donald

posted by Donald at December 7, 2008




Comments

Disgrace to profession.

Posted by: Tatyana on December 7, 2008 1:39 PM



There was a time when you could find the university in any city. You looked for an eminence with some fine buildings. Dreaming spires, and all that.

Now you search an unlovely flat for a collection of drab, mismatched lumps each mercifully obscuring the other. To find the department of architecture is then easy: it will be nastiness solidified.

Donald, the Built Environment expression was introduced to a certain Aussie uni department well over a decade ago. I was visiting a friend who worked at that uni and asked him what the title meant. He explained and added that the department-building itself had been designed as an environmental showpiece: self-ventilating, self-regulating etc. Sadly, he added:

"Even the luvvies hate walking into it. It's ugly, it's pokey, it's murky when it's not glary, it smells, it suffocates, it swelters, it freezes...It's just a disgusting place."

Posted by: Robert Townshend on December 7, 2008 4:53 PM



The expression "School of the Built Environment" was used of Architecture + Civil Engineering in Britain at least 30 years ago.

The neatest description of a University site I've ever heard concerned the Science site at Edinburgh, which had been built in two phases, one between the wars and one from the 60s onwards: "a job lot of nice town halls and the packing cases they were delivered in".

Posted by: dearieme on December 7, 2008 6:26 PM



That name is no damned good. It doesn't contain the word "green". It should read "College of Green Built Environments and Global Climate Change Sensitive Structures" To really assure that the federal dollars keep coming, they should also add something about gender and race. But this name change will do in a pinch.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on December 7, 2008 8:58 PM



Calling a turd a rose, does not a rose make.

I too would want to change my name, considering the opprobrium associated with modern architecture. Suitably Orwellian.

Posted by: slumlord on December 7, 2008 11:29 PM



"To really assure that the federal dollars keep coming, they should also add something about gender and race. But this name change will do in a pinch."

Allow me to put on my wacky postmodern hat and take a stab at it ...

... buildings are sexed and represent the males (the dwellers of buildings) entering -- and violating -- the female inner space. In fact, why do we even have, what the western cultural hegemons refer to as, 'buildings'? Why not nothing? A 'building' privileges itself over open spaces. Pre-historic peaceful tribes often lived in open spaces on the savannah. In fact, one could say that buildings are racist, as they hegemonically impose themselves over the open spaces of native peoples.

Posted by: Daniel C. on December 7, 2008 11:31 PM






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