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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Literary Dose #30

"Even as the high priests of contemporary architecture set themselves up as visionary artists or seers in a throbbing celebrity economy, architecture frequently ignores or underestimates its civic influence. Architects certainly deserve admiration for what they, alone among us can do: create monuments of the built environment. When Howard Roark, the architect hero of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, points to a building and says, 'I don't care what anyone says about me; I built that,' one cannot but admire the material certainty of his pride. But one toxic result of recent 'starchitecture' culture is the steady stream of theoretical bafflegab that pours from architectural schools and journals. This is usually the result of what me might call 'philosophical backformation': finding some plausible-sounding theoretical cladding to hang on an already conceived, even completed, structural project. Self-respecting architects would not allow useless aesthetic decorations to mar their designs, yet they perpetrate intellectual design crimes by the week. This is forgivable pretension, perhaps, but only if architectural discourse allows itself to be penetrated from the outisde -- if it allows its boundaries to be crossed."
- Mark Kingwell from Concrete Reveries: Consciousness and the City (Viking, 2008).

2 comments:

  1. Nice quote dude... Kind of ironic how it is immediately preceded by gehry garbage. Sort of a case-in-point don't you think?

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  2. That wasn't intentional, in any case. Gehry might be the least apt to Kingwell's commentary, as Frank doesn't borrow much from outside architecture (if we ignore the NASA software and occasional oversized binoncular.) He is probably the most "architecture as art" of anybody practicing, but that's probably another argument entirely. As Sketches of Gehry shows in action, he's all about how something looks...I guess like most architects, when we admit to it.

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