10° 40' N, 61° 30' W

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Michael of 2 Blowhards makes my main point about the new World Trade Center designs:

Isn't it plain weird that architectural reviewers and critics feel that it's OK to review a building without a) talking to people who work or live in it, b) talking with people who work or live near it, and c) spending serious time living and/or working in and near the building themselves?

Last year I saw the Guggenheim's show on Frnak Gehry, and, while I liked a lot of the design, I was unsettled about a lot of them being built. In a follow-up post, Michael says:

I visited and enjoyed Frank Gehry's famous Santa Monica house. What a kick! It looks like a suburban house freeze-framed a millionth of a second after a bomb detonated! Whee! Yet I also couldn't help feeling a few other things, such as: "I'm glad I don't live in it," and "I'm glad I don't live next door to it;" and "I'm glad I don't live on the same block." For one thing, architecture fans are forever dropping by -- what a pain. For another, making a house like that on such a pleasant, placid, and typical Santa Monica block seems to me like a selfish and uncivil thing to do. How do the neighbors feel?

Stewart Brand's book How Buildings Learn, as well as the subsequent BBC documentary series, describes a phenomenon know as "magazine architecture", were critics, reviewers and others get caught up in how a building looks, especially just after construction, rather than in how it works. Buildings then become statements, and how the afgfect the people who live and work in them is a secondary consideration, as is adapatability and, consequentially durability.

No proposal is going to satisfy everybody, and it is true to assert that none of these designs will be built in their present form. I actually prefere a couple of concepts from the previous, much-derided set. Then again, I don't (yet) live in New York, so I don't have to suffer whatever goes up.