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Friday, December 8, 2006

Black Building?

posted by on December 8 at 11:27 AM

Under construction in Pittsburgh is The August Wilson Center for African American Culture, which when completed will look like this:

11000 AWilliams African Cultural.jpg

Designed by Perkins+Will, a Chicago-based firm, the two-story steel and aluminum building is not, as you can see, very interesting. Nor is it aesthetically black American. What makes this structure black? Nothing. But then again, can there be such a thing as black American architecture in the way there is, say, Japanese architecture? Those who believe such a distinction is possible will certainly turn to black American music to prove that a line can be drawn between black aesthetic practices and those derived from Japan or Europe. But is there an aesthetic correspondence between European music and architecture (something Goethe suggested)? Others have gone as far as to compare the scholastic summa with gothic architecture. But that comparison has more to do with complexity than with actual style. Reading a summa does not feel like walking through a cathedral. Summas are intellectual; cathedrals are cosmic.

In the plays of August Wilson, you can, for sure, hear the music of the blues; but not one blue note will exist in the August Wilson Center for African American Culture.

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Is this a joke? Supposedly "black" architecture that looks like a giant cock? What's next for black architecture - a building shaped like a watermelon?

Posted by Lark Hawk | December 8, 2006 11:38 AM

Dude, it's John Henry's hammer.

Posted by david | December 8, 2006 11:38 AM

I thought it looked like a hammer.

Posted by elswinger | December 8, 2006 11:40 AM

Definitely a hammer.

Posted by Gem | December 8, 2006 11:46 AM

It'll work. Pittsburgh has a high concentration of African-Americans in its urban area. Do you know if the building will be adjacent to the 'hill district', where many of Wilson's plays are set?

Posted by In my opinion | December 8, 2006 11:48 AM

Yeah, to a Seattlite, everything looks like a cock.

Posted by david | December 8, 2006 11:51 AM

And it looks like, er, a giant white cock. And futuristic—for a playwright essentially concerned with history. This is the exact wrong design. The departure point for the building should've been the old house that we meet in the first play of the cycle, Gem of the Ocean (hello Ms. Rashad!) and whose demolition sits at the heart of the last play, Radio Golf.

I don't care who designed this aluminum turd—it should be razed.

Posted by Brendan Kiley | December 8, 2006 11:53 AM

It looks like a bullet train. I see motion. I hear the voice of Schooly D rap “am I black enough for ya?”

Posted by The Blob | December 8, 2006 11:59 AM

Summa’s are intellectual; cathedrals are cosmic.

If you're going to hold forth on art and culture, it would be nice if you used apostrophes properly.

Posted by Mark | December 8, 2006 1:12 PM

mark, it is a blog. it is a typo. we do our best.

Posted by charles Mudede | December 8, 2006 1:30 PM

I actually think it looks like a Wahl Beard Trimmer. A very trendy one, probably one that would be available at Nordstrom or Rudy's as opposed to Bartell's.

Posted by Dave Coffman | December 8, 2006 1:48 PM

it represents what they built after they knocked down all the old buildings in the plays

Posted by yosef | December 8, 2006 3:59 PM

where's the whole foods?

Posted by charles | December 8, 2006 4:04 PM

I saw the giant cock too. But I am a cock hungry fag.

Posted by Gitai | December 8, 2006 4:25 PM

It's what the architects think black people want for the future:
-to be white
-to keep their giant cocks
-to be robo-perfect

If it's a hammer, why is there a testicle hanging out down there at the end of it?

Posted by him | December 8, 2006 4:32 PM

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