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Old 01-14-2008, 07:15 PM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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Why Do People Dislike Modern Architecture?

I just saw a new house go up in my neighborhood-and it looks ancient. It has mullioned windows 9of a style from about AD 1600), a brick chimney (1400), and a front entrance withfaux-Greek columsn (300 BC). In short, this house is built to look as old as possible. How come people don't build modern houses? I mean, we can have nice glass block walls 9lots of light), big windows, and get rid od those ancient chimneys! Yet people WANT their new houses to look old-why? You ceratinly would not buy a car that looked like a 16th century horse drawn coach!
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Old 01-14-2008, 07:33 PM
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CalMeacham CalMeacham is online now
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You ceratinly would not buy a car that looked like a 16th century horse drawn coach!
If they could do it without absurdly high cost or loss of function, I'll bet that there are plenty who would.

People like the way older houses look -- and I don't think it's all or even mostly any sort of classist idea. I really don't like glass blocks, myself. Large windows still lead to more heat loss (even with well-insulated windows, which are more expensive). Chimneys look nice, and are so exspected that I've seen faux chimneys made of metal painted to look like brick chineys on houses with heating systems that require flues but not chimneys. (In their favor, rectangular brick chimneys look a heckuva lot nicer than bare metal pipes protruding from the roof).



And I have to admit that I'm not that fond of a lot of modern architecture. I don't like utilitarian, soulless glass-and-steel boxes. I think Frank Gehry's stuff is ugly, and I REALLY dislike BRUT architecture, with its unrepentently ugly cast concrete that looks like hell when it rains. I love Art Deco, and buuildings with a little (but not too much ) ornamentation. "Machines for Living"? Gaahh -- who wants to livre in a machine?
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Old 01-14-2008, 07:41 PM
StuffLikeThatThere StuffLikeThatThere is offline
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To my uneducated eye, it looks all pointy and aggressive. I don't like that.

Diff'rent strokes.
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Old 01-14-2008, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by CalMeacham
I REALLY dislike BRUT architecture, with its unrepentently ugly cast concrete that looks like hell when it rains. I love Art Deco, and buuildings with a little (but not too much ) ornamentation. "Machines for Living"? Gaahh -- who wants to livre in a machine?
Is this an attack on modern architecture, or anything from over most of the past century which has any modernist or Bauhaus influence?
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Old 01-14-2008, 07:45 PM
MichaelQReilly MichaelQReilly is offline
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Probably because 98% of the modern architecture that was foisted on the public by the ridiculous architecture intelligentsia was complete and utter garbage that only served to alienate the public.

That said, cheap architecture with vinyl siding and faux stone is just as atrocious.
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Old 01-14-2008, 07:46 PM
The Hamster King The Hamster King is offline
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Minimalism is not very forgiving of mistakes. If you don't get the proportions of that tidy white box juuuuust right then it's crap. I've seen some stunningly beautiful modernist buildings -- the Getty Center comes to mind. But mostly they're forgettable, or worse, assaultive. Even the worst traditional building ususally has something to like about it -- a pleasant little detail here or there, a touch of charm in an otherwise disasterous composition.
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Old 01-14-2008, 07:55 PM
Slithy Tove Slithy Tove is offline
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Bear in mind that capital M "Modern" architecture is now antique, it can still appeal to that within us which requires a air of tradition to provide a sense of security.

As has been well-established, the flaw of Modern was that Big Ideas + Big Funding didn't take into account what living with the stuff would be like. It takes a great chef to prepare a meal good enough to be enjoyed if eaten in a concrete plaza at a concrete picnic table among concrete planters. But most of the people who have to do so also have to eat equally bad food there too, unlike the people who provided both the big ideas and the big funding.

Still, when done right, modernism is great. Compare The Salk Institue's relation to the sun, sky and sea of California to the monstrosity of the old Sutro Bath's "context be damned." attitude.

Last edited by Slithy Tove; 01-14-2008 at 07:56 PM.
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Old 01-14-2008, 08:02 PM
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Minimalism is not very forgiving of mistakes. ...
Not only that, but my impression is that it is particularly unforgiving of imperfect maintenance, i.e. being slightly dirty and decayed affects the look of modernist buildings more than it does older ones.
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Old 01-14-2008, 08:05 PM
GorillaMan GorillaMan is offline
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Still, when done right, modernism is great. Compare The Salk Institue's relation to the sun, sky and sea of California to the monstrosity of the old Sutro Bath's "context be damned." attitude.
Absolutely. Le Corbusier's best buildings are simply beautiful, and also are popular, even (gasp!) among people who live in them.
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Old 01-14-2008, 08:28 PM
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Boxy and antiseptic. No warmth. Architecture for androids.

IMHO
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Old 01-14-2008, 08:33 PM
Terrifel Terrifel is offline
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Compare The Salk Institue's relation to the sun, sky and sea of California to the monstrosity of the old Sutro Bath's "context be damned." attitude.
Mild hijack, but... I have to say, the Cliff House image made me smile. I think it's genuinely funny. I guess the architect probably wasn't aiming for that effect, but it is. I've seen contemporary building designs where the architect was intentionally trying to be funny or ironic, and I think it hardly ever works as well as that does.
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Old 01-14-2008, 10:12 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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James Howard Kunstler posts an Eyesore of the Month, usually an egregious example of modern architecture. Commentaries thereon go a long way towards answering the OP. In his books, he makes a strong case that the whole modernist movement in architecture -- based on mechanistic functional considerations, coupled with esthetic standards newly invented -- was a mistake. Classicism (broadly defined) is timeless because it encodes certain aspects of the human condition: Human beings have a top, middle and bottom, therefore these are included clearly in the classical orders. Traditional vertical windows represent human beings in an upright posture, horizontal windows suggest a person who is asleep, having sex, or dead. Modernists eliminate unnecessary ornament, classical architecture repeats it at several descending scales to produce a harmonious whole.

This is all bound up with a systematic critique of individual buildings' relationship to one another in their built environments -- e.g., traditional walking-scale mixed-use towns and neighborhoods vs. sprawling auto-dependent all-residential suburban PUD pods and commercial strip malls.
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Old 01-14-2008, 10:20 PM
MichaelQReilly MichaelQReilly is offline
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Originally Posted by Slithy Tove
Still, when done right, modernism is great. Compare The Salk Institue's relation to the sun, sky and sea of California to the monstrosity of the old Sutro Bath's "context be damned." attitude.
I actually don't hate all modernism despite my many condemnations of it. But I don't think that either of these pictures really prove your point all that well. While, yes, the Salk Institute looks good in the light of that photograph, it is still harsh, austere, and institutional. With regards to the Cliff House, yeah the way it's built over the cliff obviously wouldn't stand up to the test of time, but if you slid the building back from the edge, it would look absolutely fine. Even as is, the building, though impractical, worked. Who thinks this doesn't interact spectacularly with its context?

Last edited by MichaelQReilly; 01-14-2008 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 01-14-2008, 10:28 PM
MichaelQReilly MichaelQReilly is offline
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You know what, I looked at the picture of the Salk Institute a little more and I want to withdraw the slight praise I gave it. Really, the only thing that it is successful at is being the setting for photographs. There is absolutely nothing in the architecture of that building that in any way, shape, or form is the least bit inviting for actual human beings. There are plenty of places in Antarctica that make a nice picture too, but no one would actually want to spend any time there. Thats the effect that the Salk Institute creates.
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Old 01-14-2008, 10:39 PM
Key Lime Guy Key Lime Guy is offline
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We've done this a thousand times before and IMO it's one of the most frustrating sources of doper ignorance.

I don't know why, but modern architecture is the only period or style that is characterized by its worst examples, every other period is characterized by its good examples.

If you think modern housing was "Boxy and antiseptic [with] No warmth" you need to check out Richard Neutra or Rudolph Schindler.
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Old 01-14-2008, 10:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pochacco
Minimalism is not very forgiving of mistakes. If you don't get the proportions of that tidy white box juuuuust right then it's crap. I've seen some stunningly beautiful modernist buildings -- the Getty Center comes to mind. But mostly they're forgettable, or worse, assaultive. Even the worst traditional building ususally has something to like about it -- a pleasant little detail here or there, a touch of charm in an otherwise disasterous composition.
That's exactly right...modernism is about proportion, and it's hard to get right. And if you don't get it right, there's nothing to fall back on to please the eye.
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Old 01-14-2008, 10:42 PM
Key Lime Guy Key Lime Guy is offline
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Traditional vertical windows represent human beings in an upright posture, horizontal windows suggest a person who is asleep, having sex, or dead.
What a bunch of crap. Vertical windows restrict your vision, producing a feeling of confinement. Horizontal windows allow you to see (as your eyes work) panoramically.
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Old 01-14-2008, 10:50 PM
Key Lime Guy Key Lime Guy is offline
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...Salk Institute... There is absolutely nothing in the architecture of that building that in any way, shape, or form is the least bit inviting for actual human beings.
I think you're critiquing photography rather than architecture.

The people that work there would disagree with you. (Sorry I can't find a cite, but scientists have talked about being inspired to do good work by the architecture.)

Also, it is a testament to the designers' brilliance that the building still works so well. Bio-medical & genetic research was in its infancy then. Salk told Kahn he had "no idea" what the building's functional needs were. It remains one of the premiere places to do such research because so much flexibility was planned for.
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Old 01-14-2008, 10:51 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
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I don't know why, but modern architecture is the only period or style that is characterized by its worst examples, every other period is characterized by its good examples.
It's because modernism has produced so many bad examples. I'm not trying to be facetious here. I rarely see a modern building that I like. Most of them are godawful ugly; some are just grey eyesores that I ignore. It's very rare that I look at a modern building and say "wow". That's not my experience with other types of architecture.
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Old 01-14-2008, 10:54 PM
MichaelQReilly MichaelQReilly is offline
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Originally Posted by Key Lime Guy
We've done this a thousand times before and IMO it's one of the most frustrating sources of doper ignorance.

I don't know why, but modern architecture is the only period or style that is characterized by its worst examples, every other period is characterized by its good examples.

If you think modern housing was "Boxy and antiseptic [with] No warmth" you need to check out Richard Neutra or Rudolph Schindler.
I don't disagree about the quality of the buildings you linked to, but what I find frustrating is the oft repeated defense that modern is characterized by its worst buildings while we selectively remember only good buildings from the past. My rebuttal to this, which I've offered before, is that the ratio of good to atrocious buildings in modernism, brutalism, and the like is unconscionably high. For every quality modernist building you can cite, I can find dozens examples of the style which are horrific failures. No other historic style has that kind of dismal record.
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Old 01-14-2008, 11:02 PM
MichaelQReilly MichaelQReilly is offline
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I think you're critiquing photography rather than architecture.
Maybe, but in the end it's the same. "How a building interacts with its context" is largely a matter of perspective, light, vantage point, etc. In other words, all the things that go into making a good photograph.
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Old 01-14-2008, 11:06 PM
Key Lime Guy Key Lime Guy is offline
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I don't disagree about the quality of the buildings you linked to, but what I find frustrating is the oft repeated defense that modern is characterized by its worst buildings while we selectively remember only good buildings from the past. My rebuttal to this, which I've offered before, is that the ratio of good to atrocious buildings in modernism, brutalism, and the like is unconscionably high. For every quality modernist building you can cite, I can find dozens examples of the style which are horrific failures. No other historic style has that kind of dismal record.
1. So would you characterize rock music by Led Zeppelin, or by the "unconscionably high" numbers of bands playing tonight in local bars?

2. The worst buildings from prior periods/styles (let's say Victorian for example) are GONE. The same will be true of modern architecture in another generation.

3. Postmodernism's record is equally dismal.
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Old 01-14-2008, 11:23 PM
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If you think modern housing was "Boxy and antiseptic [with] No warmth" you need to check out Richard Neutra or Rudolph Schindler.
Meh. Those examples really don't much challenge my "architecture for androids" characterization. It still looks antiseptic, austere, and cold to me. I'll take some curves, please (and some comfortable-looking furniture, while we're at it).

YM(obviously)V
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Old 01-14-2008, 11:29 PM
MichaelQReilly MichaelQReilly is offline
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1. So would you characterize rock music by Led Zeppelin, or by the "unconscionably high" numbers of bands playing tonight in local bars?
This is analogy doesn't work here. The OP asked for, and I am critiquing, modern architecture. When doing so, it is perfectly appropriate to evaluate the style as a whole. The fact that there are some good modernist buildings doesn't doesn't mean that I can't also consider the many more horrible ones. Further, the problem with many of the architectural movements of the last century, is that the very ideas that defined the style are largely what made them failures. So again, its perfectly apropriate to damn the style for all of the bad buildings it produced.

The other reason you analogy doesn't work is because by the very nature of music, I (for the most part) hear what I want to hear. All the bad bands, therefore, don't affect me in any way. Its not quite so easy to avoid a building.

Quote:
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2. The worst buildings from prior periods/styles (let's say Victorian for example) are GONE. The same will be true of modern architecture in another generation.
This is one area where we will have to agree to disagree. I've seen tons of pictures from pre-1950 of many of the towns in the area where I live. In many cases the best buildings were the ones that didn't survive.

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3. Postmodernism's record is equally dismal.
True, but then again, postmodernism is a style only in the sense that it isn't modernism.
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Old 01-14-2008, 11:30 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is online now
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American residential architecture took a deep plunge in the baby boom, post-Craftsman era and never looked back. The old Craftsman-style homes (and the simple prairie houses from which the form was derived) utilized natural materials, clean lines, and high quality artisanship to build enduring structures, creating a warm and inviting habitat that emphasized communual areas (large kitchen, front living room, shaded porch) over ginormous bathrooms and bedrooms. The downsides--the small amount of closet space and often sparse windowing--could be corrected in modern designs, but the artisanship to build those structures is all but completely gone, replaced by hacktastical would-be carpenters that would probably wack themselves in the head with a hammer if they had to use one. The trend toward standardization and homogeneity--a high virtue in the I-Like-Ike 'Fifites--led to mass produced shells of often increasingly questionable build quality, and culimated in the cheap fake brick and cheap, tacked-on vernier panelling. And the less said about linoleum, the better. The replacement of this by vinyl siding and sheetrock in faux-Colonial style is a marginal improvement (although build quality continues to sink) but is nowhere near how solid and inviting the Craftsman style is.

All that said, Modern can be done very well, albeit not with concrete and glass block (which is well gone by the past due date and needs to be retired along with Joe Camel signs and salmon-colored silk jackets), but not inexpensively, nor with as little skill as contemporary tract housing. I've been in a number of Modern-style homes that are very well done and timeless. But these were not inexpensive houses (for the square footage), were carefully designed by the owners working with a dedicated architect, and would not have been suited for rainy or cold climates. In general, Modern architecture, despite its ostensible endorsement of utility and rejection of ornament, seems to be more about itself than its inhabitants, and often creates a very unflattering, harsh, oft-called 'soulless', and often unergonomic environment, both for inhabitants and pedestrians. I'd much rather take a stroll down one of Pasadena's streets of old neighborhoods than across some glass-and-concrete boxes.

The same goes for commercial architecture, only moreso. With rare exceptions, Modern architecture just isn't done very well; even when it looks good from a distance, it rarely functions well either as a habitable space or in terms of its resistance to elements. (Yes, I am talking about the Strata Center; why, how ever did you guess?) On occasion a structure can be a work of art, but more often it ends up being a stunt, like freshmen trying to one-up each other on who can be more gross. And the lest said about postModernism--whatever the hell it is--the better. Modern can be done well, but only with great effort, and not suited (at least as this point) to mass architecture.

Oh, and for the Frank Gehry fans in the audience, yes, his house in Santa Monica would not look out of place in backwoods Arkansas; it really does look like a heap of junk. Here are some pictures on the ironically-titled "GreatBuildings.com" site. It actually looks worse in person. It's still not as bad as the Disney Concert Hall, which is one of those buildings that must have looked good in some abstract drawing but has turned out to be not only an eyesore but a serious pain-in-the-ass to maintain, and obtusely offensive to nearby residents on which it's reflected glare shined into windows until the city sanded down the exterior to a matte finish.

Stranger
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Old 01-15-2008, 12:07 AM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
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Originally Posted by Key Lime Guy
2. The worst buildings from prior periods/styles (let's say Victorian for example) are GONE. The same will be true of modern architecture in another generation.
What - you're saying that developers only tear down ugly buildings, and carefully preserve nice buildings?

Doesn't match what I've seen of developers and urban renewal - normally, local citizen groups have to fight like hell to preserve old buildings from the wrecker, and they're not always successful.
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Old 01-15-2008, 12:35 AM
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If you think modern housing was "Boxy and antiseptic [with] No warmth" you need to check out Richard . . . or Rudolph . . . .
Yes, those are excellent examples of houses that are boxy and antiseptic with no warmth. The first is merely uninviting, while the second is as repellant as an airport waiting area. They are art objects that make good use of natural light, but ultimately, they are a far cry from warm and inviting homes.
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Old 01-15-2008, 12:40 AM
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I had to suffer through brutalist architecture at several universities. Having to function in that soul crushing crap was more than enough to leave a very bitter taste in my mouth.
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Old 01-15-2008, 12:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Key Lime Guy
We've done this a thousand times before and IMO it's one of the most frustrating sources of doper ignorance.

I don't know why, but modern architecture is the only period or style that is characterized by its worst examples, every other period is characterized by its good examples.

If you think modern housing was "Boxy and antiseptic [with] No warmth" you need to check out Richard Neutra or Rudolph Schindler.
Personally, I still find these examples to be "boxy" and "sterile". I will fully admit that I also find them elegant and fascinating but they are places of residence and not museum exhibits to be studied while passing by.

You hit one of the bigger problems on the head in post #18. There is a problem with the way we photograph architecture. People are included as an afterthought and the environment is rarely inviting. Photographs of modern architecture fascinate me as an architecture student but they turn me away as a person. Usually, the subject ends up looking like that room that your mother would not let you go into when you were a child. I cannot blame people for rejecting the movement that produces these feelings.

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I had to suffer through brutalist architecture at several universities. Having to function in that soul crushing crap was more than enough to leave a very bitter taste in my mouth.
Hehe, fortunately for me I am in the College of Fine Arts and our building is pleasant and inspirational. If I had to suffer through the Brutalist monstrosity that is our Engineering Hall every day, I too might be ready to pull my hair out like my Engineer friends.

Last edited by Frosted Glass; 01-15-2008 at 12:46 AM.
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Old 01-15-2008, 05:35 AM
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My personal favorite has always been Falling Water by Frank Lloyd Wright.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falling_water
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Old 01-15-2008, 06:49 AM
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To be fair, the house described in the OP sounds like an atrocity - who mixes 15th century architecture with classical pillars?

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It's because modernism has produced so many bad examples. I'm not trying to be facetious here. I rarely see a modern building that I like.
Not only that, but there's so many high profile examples of architectural atrocities. Take the Scottish Parliament, right bang in the middle of Edinburgh. From Arthur's Seat, you look out, observe the castle, the Edwardian stone buildings, Sir Walter Scott's monument on Princes Street, and then on to this modern horror.

If the best architects in the land are producing crap like this, then who can do "modern" architecture well?

Quote:
If you think modern housing was "Boxy and antiseptic [with] No warmth" you need to check out Richard Neutra or Rudolph Schindler.
Sorry, those aren't in the least bit persuasive. Even worse, they appear to be examples from homes. Are people supposed to relax in those rooms?
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Old 01-15-2008, 08:03 AM
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I too suffered from actually having to use a "modernist masterpiece"... freezing in winter, boiling in summer, too bright under the galss and gloomy away from it.

Just awful.

Compare it to this library, just down the road, which remains a joy to use after 300 years.

Modernism stresses "form follows function", where the opposite is often regrettably the case... the visual impact takes precedence over the use of the building.

The inside joke among architects I know is that there is a direct link between the number of awards a building wins and the number of complaints you'll get from its users.
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Old 01-15-2008, 08:09 AM
Slithy Tove Slithy Tove is offline
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Just an aside here, as an explanation as to why the 20th Century took a veer away from the perfectly pleasing architecture of the past in favor of big, dumb geometry. Maybe it had to do with the fact that the occupants of those old wedding cakes were themselves useless ornamentation. Or worse, taking the Modernists at their faith in Marx, these occupants were sitting at the top of a social order that brutally suppressed labor reform; and taking Freud at face value were perpetuating a morality that drove people crazy. After blundering in 1914 into a war that fed nine million people through a meat grinder, it was an "old" well worth breaking with. When evaluated for what the old styles represented at the time, perhaps we can understand if not forgive the excesses of that break.
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Old 01-15-2008, 08:31 AM
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Don't forget that in Europe, especially Britain, rapid rebuilding was required after 1945.

Concrete is cheap, easy to use and quick to erect. Towns and cities didn't have the cash to invest in elaborate buildings, they needed something functional that could be up-and-running within a year.

Coventry, for example, was pretty much flattened by German carpet bombing - a wholesale rebuilding programme was needed, but the city was broke after the war, so they took what they could.

Flat side and "blocky" design is much cheaper and quicker than turrets, pillars and crennalations.

Last edited by e-logic; 01-15-2008 at 08:32 AM.
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Old 01-15-2008, 08:53 AM
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Meh. Those examples really don't much challenge my "architecture for androids" characterization. It still looks antiseptic, austere, and cold to me. I'll take some curves, please (and some comfortable-looking furniture, while we're at it).

YM(obviously)V
Yeah, they had to work hard to make wood so cold.
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Old 01-15-2008, 09:47 AM
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Well, as pointed elsewhere, one thing is Modern Architecture and another is Contemporary Architecture.

The bottom line with Modern Architecture is that it was intended to be ugly, in as much as the basic premise was to get rid of needless ornamentation; the problem is that leads to a box as the minimalist living space. As boring as watching the concrete on your box-house walls dry.
The things is, that minimalism seeps the soul out of people, we are not machines and shouldn`t live in a machine. There`s more to home than an efficient and lean housing solution; beauty it`s not superfluous for the human being, it provides an stimulating environment to keep us feeling alive.


Now for Contemporary Architecture...

"Full of sound and fury, signinfying nothing"

That`s the kind of architecture that gets the flak; buildings made to gather ows and wows from people looking at the pictures but that completely abandon the human scale that makes people confortable to be around or inside them.

Now you see monstrosities built for the purpose of showing that it can be built to defy nature, taller, unbalanced, sharp and sterile. Architectural Shock and Awe.

Thankfully not all contemporary architecture is infected with the attitude that, if it`s outrageous it stands out, so it`s a good design. There are many buidlings that manage to look modern, be functional, awesome on their scale but yet pleasing to the eye. The Sydney Opera House, Burj al Arab just give (IMHO) two well known examples.
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Old 01-15-2008, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Ale
Well, as pointed elsewhere, one thing is Modern Architecture and another is Contemporary Architecture.

The bottom line with Modern Architecture is that it was intended to be ugly, in as much as the basic premise was to get rid of needless ornamentation; the problem is that leads to a box as the minimalist living space. As boring as watching the concrete on your box-house walls dry.
The things is, that minimalism seeps the soul out of people, we are not machines and shouldn`t live in a machine. There`s more to home than an efficient and lean housing solution; beauty it`s not superfluous for the human being, it provides an stimulating environment to keep us feeling alive.
Wellll . . . Don't forget traditional Japanese architecture (so influential on Frank Lloyd Wright). A pre-industrial Japanese house is minimalist in ornamentation (compared to, say, Chinese equivalents), but it's beautiful as a whole. But that's from the application of esthetic standards developed over centuries -- part of the package modernism tossed over the side.
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Old 01-15-2008, 10:36 AM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built, by Stewart Brand, offers some very specific and concrete practical criticisms of some of the assumptions of contemporary architecture. And the results. (Did you know that Wright's famous Fallingwater is uncomfortable to live in and impossible to maintain? That Fuller's geodesic domes tend to leak at every seam, and they're all seams? That suburban McMansions are built in such a way as to make later add-ons inconceivable?)

Last edited by BrainGlutton; 01-15-2008 at 10:37 AM.
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Old 01-15-2008, 10:56 AM
Sophistry and Illusion Sophistry and Illusion is offline
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Lauinger Library at Georgetown University was supposed to be a modernistic interpretation of Healy Hall. What a fucking monstrosity.

What bugs me about some modernist architecture is that its motives are Puritanical in nature, and therefore extremely anti-modern. Consider the architect Adolf Loos, who described ornament as 'degenerate' and wrote in his book Ornament and Crime, "The evolution of culture marches with the elimination of ornament from useful objects." Blech. Let's be sure not to wear buttons, and to cover our hair too.
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Old 01-15-2008, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Ludovic
Yeah, they had to work hard to make wood so cold.
Sorry, but wood doesn't automatically equal warmth. Not when the wood is cut into harsh straight lines and boxy uncomfortable-looking furniture.
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Old 01-15-2008, 11:46 AM
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EddyTeddyFreddy EddyTeddyFreddy is offline
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Yes, those are excellent examples of houses that are boxy and antiseptic with no warmth. The first is merely uninviting, while the second is as repellant as an airport waiting area. They are art objects that make good use of natural light, but ultimately, they are a far cry from warm and inviting homes.
Exactly. Howe could anyone comfortably live there? A pizza box and a couple of mugs on the table, a jacket thrown over the couch, kids' toys on the floor -- add any touches of daily life to that sort of set piece and it would look like someone threw grease on a painting rather than a place where people took their shoes off and had their friends over and hung out.
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Old 01-15-2008, 12:59 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Probably the biggest reason for the OP is that people confuse "modern architecture" with "mass manufactured living and working spaces that are utterly devoid of any interest or esthetic consideration". IMO tract houses and bland stores and offices are not architecture; they are merely protection from the elements. True architecture is the province of the elite, who can spend the money to create houses and other buildings which inspire as well as merely function.
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Old 01-15-2008, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Sophistry and Illusion
Lauinger Library at Georgetown University was supposed to be a modernistic interpretation of Healy Hall. What a fucking monstrosity.
That made me do a double take -- at first I thought it was the Weldon library at the University of Western Ontario -- yet another pile of concrete excreted in what otherwise for the most part is quite a nice campus: http://www.ontarioarchitecture.com/Brutalistlondon.jpg
  #44  
Old 01-15-2008, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by e-logic
Don't forget that in Europe, especially Britain, rapid rebuilding was required after 1945.

Concrete is cheap, easy to use and quick to erect. Towns and cities didn't have the cash to invest in elaborate buildings, they needed something functional that could be up-and-running within a year.

Coventry, for example, was pretty much flattened by German carpet bombing - a wholesale rebuilding programme was needed, but the city was broke after the war, so they took what they could.

Flat side and "blocky" design is much cheaper and quicker than turrets, pillars and crennalations.
Sure - and my great-grandparents lived in a sod hut on the Prairies when they homesteaded, because wood was expensive and dirt was, well, dirt cheap.

But that doesn't mean that they chose to live in sod huts for the rest of their lives, or that they thought sod huts were an improvement on previous architecture - as soon as they could, they built a wooden frame house and moved out of the dirt.

Nor did it mean that architects on the prairies were influenced by the thousands of settlers living in dirt huts - they didn't try to turn sod into a new style of architecture.
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Old 01-15-2008, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Key Lime Guy
1. So would you characterize rock music by Led Zeppelin, or by the "unconscionably high" numbers of bands playing tonight in local bars?
It's a continuum - but the key point is that rock music has general appeal, whether in the hands of a super-star band or the locals down at the pub. People generally like the music, while perhaps being critical of the execution in some cases. But what I'm hearing here on this thread, and in numerous other discussions of modern architecture, is that people don't like the underlying principles.
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Old 01-15-2008, 01:23 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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David Szondy's Tales of Future Past website includes some biting critiques of modernist conceptions of cities and homes.
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Old 01-15-2008, 01:33 PM
Muffin Muffin is offline
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Originally Posted by e-logic
Don't forget that in Europe, especially Britain, rapid rebuilding was required after 1945.

Concrete is cheap, easy to use and quick to erect. Towns and cities didn't have the cash to invest in elaborate buildings, they needed something functional that could be up-and-running within a year.
Where I live, Ontario, Canada, we never had to rebuild anything, and the worst of the brutalist concrete buildings were built in the 1960s and 1970s, which was a period of tremendous prosperity here. Obviously cost was a factor -- it usually is -- but that is no excuse for throwing humanity out the window.
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Old 01-15-2008, 01:36 PM
Sophistry and Illusion Sophistry and Illusion is offline
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Originally Posted by Muffin
That made me do a double take -- at first I thought it was the Weldon library at the University of Western Ontario -- yet another pile of concrete excreted in what otherwise for the most part is quite a nice campus: http://www.ontarioarchitecture.com/Brutalistlondon.jpg
Worst of all, Lauinger is right on the quad, which is supposed to be the centerpiece of an American campus, and which is otherwise quite lovely and surrounded by attractive old buildings.
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Old 01-15-2008, 02:03 PM
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There's nothing wrong with concrete as a construction material. It's strong, easy to work with and keeps out the heat, and as long as you remember to cover it with plaster or clad it with marble or limestone it can look fine, too. It's only when architects decide to let us see the concrete do we have a problem.

Exposed concrete is good for machine gun emplacements. Nothing else.
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Old 01-15-2008, 02:11 PM
Sophistry and Illusion Sophistry and Illusion is offline
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Exposed concrete is good for machine gun emplacements. Nothing else.
What, are you saying soldiers don't deserve a cozy work environment? Why do you hate Amer...er, Israel?
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