Am not an architect. Was an architectural consultant for seven years. One year, five of the AIA top ten were projects I worked on. On the one hand, I agree with every word of this article. On the other hand, I disagree with every word.
I've worked on some stupid projects. I've known stupider. I helped design an educational complex at an extremely hippie school known for drug use where the architect hit the college for a change order for daring to suggest that a dwellable 5th floor roof should have guard rails. I know projects where the up escalators only take you to the 5th and 8th floor but the down escalators were eliminated due to budget cuts. I know projects where the marvelous open flow envisioned by the architects meant that anyone going to see the mayor got to watch men peeing in the bathroom because of where they put the mirrors. Two of those projects were in the AiA Top Ten. One of them is considered an architectural landmark.
But it ain't all bad.
People hated the Eiffel Tower when it was built. The Washington Monument was a contenious ruin for 100 years. Meanwhile everyone knows the Golden Gate bridge
and nobody knows Maillart.
You get points for being big, stupid and old with the public. You don't get points for being different. Until you're dead, and then holy shit you're a genius.
Foster's gherkin is fuckin' rad, yo. I don't care if you could put it anywhere, that's a dope-ass building.
Care about the inside? Here's London's City Hall.
The author mentions "plants" and how brutalism improves when covered in them; he's not wrong
And he's also effectively describing the ouvre of Ken Yeang.
And that's the thing: of course Morphosis stuff looks like shit. Take a normal building, break it, and you've got Morphosis.
Which echoes back to "ruin value", which you can blame on the Nazis, who determined that the true test of architectural value is whether or not it leaves an exquisite corpse. Post WWII they just skipped to the end and gave us the ruins.
It's not all bad, though. There are great pieces of architecture in the world. They don't get written up nearly as much as the horrible ones and since the only bad press is no press an architect can be famous for being an asshole with bad ideas. It's interesting; I did a lot of houses for what is now Olson Kundig and they were all beautiful but they all had extraneous oval-cross-section spiral staircases because fuck you, that's why. Jim Olson will put his fucking initial on the plans or else you'll go somewhere else. That's their bid for immortality. That's why they do what they do. And when you consider that the public will hate just about anything new simply for being new, of course they're going to ignore public opinion even when maybe they shouldn't.
We've been watching a show called Grand Designs. it's basically a long line of Mr. Blandings building their dream houses. And the closer their occupations to architecture, the stupider their houses look. the host can never say bad things, though; an architectural house is always "striking" while a habitable house is always "beautiful."
There's a lesson there. Architects are going for "striking" in hopes that it will be beautiful someday. The rest of us want to enjoy it in our lifetimes because we find our immortality elsewhere.