Thursday, January 22, 2009

On the Arts District and the Place Architecture is Leaving.

The Foster + Partners bldg is truly gorgeous. You could tell it would be from the very first renderings years ago. The OMA/Prince Ramus Borg Space Ship ...not so much.

[Imagery from nthomas7627's flickr photostream]




[A new analogy. Ready to capture hundreds of patrons of the arts.]

Unfortunately, for the Winspear, like many "object buildings" it needs a frame. We can frame it with our camera lens and it looks great, but ultimately a building is not intended to be experienced on a sheet of paper. I don't mean to be derisive about this building, but ultimately without the urban fabric to "frame" it, it is not an environment, merely an object.

This is the heart of the problem with architecture currently, which is really just residual from the 20th century and dying thankfully. A building has to know its surroundings. It can't exist in a vacuum. The Foster design understood this, which is why one can visualize it set within a more vibrant district lined with "background buildings." It is both dramatic and subtle, iconic yet with humility. The pseudo-Koolhaas/ultimately-Ramus building did not, which is why it looks like it is landing from outer space.

Rather than let it stand out against a foil of standard urbanity, the problem is exacerbated with other sculpture, crying babies screaming for attention. The arts district in its current bastardized form is incoherent b/c rather than stand out, it merely stands.

A singular building is a post card. A true urban environment is drama. We need to start working on making more movies.