Architecture Many More Leaves
posted by June 6 at 13:33 PMon
How unfortunate that we all don’t have a stash of whatever it was that Charles Mudede was smoking when he wrote this Stranger piece on the new Four Seasons building on 1st Ave between Union and University. How fun it would be to look up at a stark, rectilinear glass and concrete tower that forms a massive barrier to sun, mountains, and water, and interpret it as profound connection to the natural world, a form that casts shadows like those from pristine alpine peaks because it is painted the color of mud.
First: I’m not a pot smoker. If you have to know, wine is my prime (and almost only) poison. Second: The poster’s leading criticism does not connect with what I attempted to explain in the article. Dan is concerned with pedestrian matters:
Back here on earth, on the ground, what I see is a building that fails to embrace the street. As you can see in the photo above, roughly half of what the passing pedestrian encounters at eye level while walking along the building on 1st Ave is concrete wall.
I couldn’t care less about the street and what the building is doing to it. My leading concern was (and still is) the coding of the work. To my eyes, the Four Seasons is less a building and more of a book. And here I’m referring, of course, to the second chapter of Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame, “This Will Kill That.” Because everyone has read this novel, everyone knows that the chapter is about architecture as a form of writing:
Architecture began like all writing. It was first an alphabet. Men planted a stone upright, it was a letter, and each letter was a hieroglyph, and upon each hieroglyph rested a group of ideas, like the capital on the column. This is what the earliest races did everywhere, at the same moment, on the surface of the entire world.”What everyone might not know is that this chapter inspired Frank Lloyd Wright to become an architect—verification of this claim can be found in Edward R. Ford’s The Details of Modern Architecture: 1928 to 1988.
This is what I read in the Four Seasons: It tells the story of Seattle’s self-imagined relationship with its natural surroundings. For this reason, its story/coding is less related to the international green movement in architecture and more related (if not totally related) to the mural of the orca whales on Seattle Steam, a building that the Four Season faces and echoes. Indeed, to walk down Western Ave is to walk in a forest of correspondences.
This (the coding, the language, the correspondences) is the utter matter of my article.