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Monday, August 25, 2008

Architecture and Reality

posted by on August 25 at 10:07 AM

Remember what Charles said last week on this subject?

Nicolai Ourousoff is agreeing with Mudede this morning, in a piece on the odd duck Lebbeus Woods:

By abandoning fantasy for the more pragmatic aspects of building, the profession has lost some of its capacity for self-criticism, not to mention one of its most valuable imaginative tools.

I agree. More often than not I see buildings whose designs seem to be backwardly rationalized, by which I mean that the designs are more or less logistically driven, but then are gussied up to “mean” something. I’m not opposed to logistical motivations, but I’d like them to be admitted as such. (This is also a huge problem in art, where artists can’t decide which of their choices to glorify after the fact, and it makes for some weirdly gap-filled conversations and artist talks.) I also am tired of buildings being discussed and classified in terms of modernism or postmodernism or neomodernism when, in truth, they are driven by practicalism. To me, this is the case with the new Seattle Art Museum.

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??? Why would anyone remember what Charles said last week ???

Posted by RonK, Seattle | August 25, 2008 10:41 AM

I am glad you put “mean” in quotes because the idea that a building should mean anything more than what it does strikes me as foolish and a gilding the lily. What more profound meaning can a house have than "home"? Or a hospital than "comfort" or "care"? Things mean what they do. The pseudo-intellectualizing of design is the enemy of good architecture.

Ourousoff is matched in his own high standard of irrelevance by his subject, Woods; both Ourousoff and Woods are irrelevant to the architectural and planning issues of the day.

Ourousoff's judge fails whenever it comes down to earth. I think Archigram did stimulating, fun stuff but it too in its own day -- much less now -- has simply nothing of importance to say because, if for now other reason, it can't and shouldn't be built.

Posted by David Sucher | August 25, 2008 10:41 AM

Saying that Nicolai Ouroussoff agrees with Charles Mudede is like saying a Honda Civic functions the same as a vaguely round pebble.

Posted by N | August 25, 2008 11:16 AM

No no no. Buildings are supposed to be practical for the activities that happen in and around them. "Meaning" actually is the icing on the cake.

Not that it's not important for a building to have meaning, but "practicalism" is the best thing to have happened to architecture in a long time, and if it were a movement, I'd join it.

Posted by raisedbywolves | August 25, 2008 11:45 AM

Architecture coverage only inspires Ayn Rand fans. Cut it out.

Posted by dwight moody | August 25, 2008 12:05 PM

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