September 21, 2004

Eyesore of the Month. Architectural blunders in monthly serial: photos and articulately astute commentary from architectural critic and artist James Howard Kunstler.

The site has been around for some time now, but I'm certain this will be new to many of you. Be sure to check out the previous months.

  • He really doesn't like Frank Gehry. He mentioned him twice in just a few months. Too bad, I think Gehry is pure genius. It's hard to argue against the Guggenheim and the new concert hall in LA. But then again, I like this one.
  • I especially enjoyed his "Clusterfuck Nation" series. Just the right amount of bile and fang-baring humor to add some flash to what is undoubtedly one of the most consistently pessimistic (read: probably accurate) bits of futurology I have read in quite a while.
  • At first I thought, maybe he's being too rough on this library, which is huge and shiny, but not so bad. But then I saw the inside. I like how he's not just being curmudgeonly about design, but pointing out why something that might look okay in design makes for a bad human environment. Of course, then there are just some things that scream "I was designed by someone with less aesthetic sense than a dim cat." (Yet, it's not an all together inappropriate design for OCAD, since most artists I know have dropped out of there so that they could start making art, instead of statements.) I do like this one, but it would need the right environment and weather to fit in - probably only very temperate California would work (warm, but not too hot). Also, some trees would make it better. There are many designs that are actually not bad in and of themselves, but need a very specific environment to function well in. (My previous university was quite pretty looking in summer, with wide outdoor walkways between low buildings; many trees, flowers, a nice fountain. However, it was located in Toronto, and 9/10 of the students only saw the place covered in snow and slush and howling with wind, when it was just a concrete eyesore.)
  • The problem with Kunstler is that he never says anything positive. He may be witty, but he is relentlessly damning. jb, I agree with you about universities looking awful in the winter - I'm in Windsor and we have precisely the same problem. Some parts look alright in the snow...from the right angle.
  • I really enjoyed his book "Geography of Nowhere" and recommend it to everybody interested in cities/sprawl. It was written in 1991 so its a little behind the times (but anticipated the next decade pretty well), but still relevent. It reads very quickly and is full of interesting nuggets of history.
  • He's dead wrong about Frank Gehry, IMHO, but the rest of that stuff should just be bulldozed into the ground. UGH! Here is an architectural wonder: the Salginatobel Bridge by Robert Maillart. The photography could be better, but the bridge itself defines elegance.
  • Great site! I think he's absolutely right. Makes you wonder how these people can call themselves architects........ It's quite frightening.
  • The OCAD building concept is a design nightmare, form should follow function not someones drug induced scribblings and why oh why does Will Alsop insist on sticking everything on stilts?
  • I'll second what's been said here about Gehry. The site's funny, but come on, broaden your horizons a bit. I love Gehry's stuff.
  • One thing you can say about ocad now that it's more than a computer rendering, it definitely grabs your attention. and in real life there really isn't much bad about it, honestly. It hasn't really affected the neighborhood at all - i guess it'd be better if it _improved_ the area, but at least they didn't demolish better buildings to install it, as is often the case. Somehow in the context of the equally ridiculous CN tower it seems appropiate. and it's nice to have some architectural landmarks in Toronto that aren't grey concrete.
  • August's eyesore wins first prize ... what a disaster. Gehry may have some fine designs, but this sure ain't one of 'em.
  • Oh, that OCAD building is even worse than the mock-up. That's actually not a bad neighbourhood (near AGO, isn't it? Nice park, not bad lowrise apartment buildings) - but that thing just hangs in the sky like an alien ship about to suck your brains out. And I'd hate to be up there in a fire - how are they suposed to get out?
  • As a Little Rock resident and registered Democrat, I give you The William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library, located on the banks of the Arkansas River. Notice its resemblance to a large industrial shipping center.