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Monday, June 2, 2008

More Leaves

posted by on June 2 at 14:05 PM

From an email that concerned Leaves of Glass:

In reading your “Leaves of Glass” article on the new Four Seasons, I found myself somewhat perplexed. I read Alexandros Washburn’s quote about contemporary virtue “being a concern for nature” as referring not only to the aesthetic aspects of a building, which you celebrated, but also to the functional aspects of the building, which you omitted. I looked around online and found no mention of any “sustainable” features of the building and, assuming this is indeed the case, I would have to conclude that the building’s cladding merely projects the image of being concerned with nature.

Before responding to this email, let’s look at an image of Freeway Park by Leff:


This is the mistake I made in the article: I failed to clearly separate two discourses—one, The New Virtue, is which international; the other, Natural Seattle, which is local. The first has real environmental issues at its core; the other has no reality at its core—as from crust to core, it’s all about coding, naming, saying something. In this instance, we must not confuse the discourses. They sound similar but are in fact not. NBBJ’s Seattle Justice Center is not the same as NBBJ’s Four Seasons Hotel. The Justice Center turns the artificial into the natural: The New Virtue (a real effect); the Four Seasons reiterates a feeling, a meaning, a local ideal: Natural Seattle (a sign effect). As of yet, there is not a single building or architectural work that is at once The New Virtue and Natural Seattle. The one is the one, and the other is the other.

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Did chaz rape someone in freeway park? I just don't understand the obsession.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | June 2, 2008 2:04 PM

I understand the distinction between the two discourses but would argue that even though they can be separated for discussion, they are intimately linked, and that should always be acknowledged.

As a reader of Marx, I see this as use value vs. exchange value scenario, where the former refers to the actual performance of the building while the latter refers to what Walter Benjamin calls the exhibition value (of a work of art), which is how we most easily "experience" the building.

Thanks for the response and the link.

Posted by keith | June 2, 2008 3:26 PM

The new Four Seasons is just a petty attempt to get back at the people who made them give up the contract for The Olympic. But without The Olympic, Four Seasons is just another stick-up-the-butt business for the nouveau riche. Like Nordstrom, but with beds.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | June 2, 2008 4:21 PM

Bellevue Hospital @1,

Why do you hate philosophy so much?

Posted by Cookie W. Monster | June 2, 2008 6:33 PM

If Seattle isn't green enough for you, please move to Portland.

Posted by AJ | June 2, 2008 7:56 PM

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