Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Guess the City - No Free Beer Just Egg on our Face

Here's a guess the city for you...

I've joked about this a number of times, but I had never thought of presenting visual evidence. Do two of those three look familiar to you Dallasites?

As AeroRazavi tweeted, "It's not perfect, but let's make lemonade now."

My point is not so much, "yes we're overwhelmed by an oppressive amount of lemons dumped upon us from up on high," but why do we keep getting lemons dumped onto us (besides that we don't know any better) and how much more of this can we take before a critical mass stands up and says, "Enough!"

It reminds of how Ed Glaeser opened his recent book recalling Jared Diamond's Collapse turned to the real estate market, warning that cities, completely unaware of their own fragility, are doomed to decline when overwhelmed with excessive infrastructure and shiny monuments.

But my biggest gripe comes perhaps from a place of professional ethics. When you're being paid a premium (sometimes over and over again, ahem) to design something unique (or supposedly unique in your particular vein/brand), shouldn't you do that rather than dust off some old designs?

Or did the good people of Dallas that might have been on whatever design committee decide to do the ultimate 'Dallas' thing and just say, "I want one of those" as if urban development could be done on an old episode of Supermarket Sweep.

And even if they didn't, did Calatrava suspect as such and reuse a design as a work of art to mock us, much the way Rem and Prince did with the Wyly designing a Raccoon trap of a performing arts center, laughing all the way to the bank and the awards banquet circuit at our design ignorance?

Did Calatrava create his own performance art piece as well? Not in the way we thought it was art, but actually in a much more meaningful way in that it represents the folly of Dallas-brand urban renewal? In that case, like with the Wyly, it is quite brilliant in its savage satire. But I doubt it. I imagine he lacks the nihilism coursing through Rem/Prince's veins.

However, I want to give Calatrava some credit. So I'll assume it was done as a work of self-effacement. He knows deep down his works are not nearly as valuable to the cities as the cognoscenti of that city bestow upon them. And therefore, he pokes fun at both himself and the mistaken process.