Architecture Three Quick Things
posted by April 6 at 12:36 PMon
The King County Court House:
By John Ruskin:
The architect is not bound to exhibit structure; nor are we to complain of him for concealing it, any more than we should regret that the outer surfaces of the human frame conceal much of anatomy; nevertheless, that building will generally be noblest, which to an intelligent eye discovers the great secrets of its structure, as an animal form does, although from a careless observer they may be concealed.
Comment One: Before arriving at the core of Artwalk activity, I passed the King County Courthouse building and again felt myself pulled into the debate that has been with us since the century that experienced a tremendous transformation in building materials, the 19th century: Is architecture that hides the actual structure of a building being dishonest? And if so, is this a bad thing? For me, the answer for both questions is a solid yes. And King County Courthouse is one such example of this dishonesty. From top to bottom, the building speaks not a single truth. It’s engaged Ionian columns, the useless balconnets, and, worst of all, the massive Palladian windows which make the top two floors look like one floor (the lower, long columns play a similar trick on the ground floor).
What you see on the surface has no relationship with the internal system. The surface doesn’t express or articulate the actual structure. The two are divided. If this bulk had some unity, then the King County Courthouse would look more like this. It’s a shame that a building whose function is the administration of justice has an architecture that does nothing but tell lies.
In Freeway Park:
From the “Desire Issue”:
My Loverís Window. On another June night, we were underneath the monstrous Freeway Park, on a street called something like Bubble Place. The involved traffic roared around us. Not far from where we stood and kissed and groped, was a strange window (maybe the strangest window in all of Seattle) which, from the parkís artificial waterfall, one can see the traffic on I-5 rush by. Looking into this window is like watching your sleeping loverís dream from a discovered window under her hair. The thing that dreams in Freeway Parkís window ó which is yellow, cracked in certain parts, and situated in a small recess over which water flows like transparent waves of hair ó is the city itself. The city dreams of traffic streams.
Comment Two: On Wednesday I went to Freeway Park to look at my favorite opening in all of Seattle. The opening looks down at the traffic rushing by on I-5. Because of the artificial light in the echoic tunnel, and also the blend of the artificial waterfall’s sound with the sound of the traffic, the scene looks unreal. I wanted to see this unreality again but couldn’t because of a resident madman. In the image above, the madman is just beyond the concrete block, pacing back and forth, talking to himself about things that only himself can understand. I left the park without looking into my magic opening.
From volute O, “Prostitution, Gambling”:
“If it is the belief in mystery that makes believers, then there are more believing gamblers in the world than believing worshipers.” Carl Gustav Jochmann.
Comment Three: I found this abandoned poker set on a bench that’s separated from Chapel of St. Ignatius by a parking lot. Gambling and God? But the chapel, is not really about God, it’s about design and distortion. Like the King County Courthouse, the chapel is dishonest, and in the space of that dishonesty—the dishonesty of what it is really about, as well as a dishonesty between surface and the structure—we shall find the marked card of the architect.