A breathtakingly gargantuan amount of balderdash was published by the New York Times today in “Seven Leading Architects Defend the World’s Most Hated Buildings.” The architects have all talked to Alexandra Lange. The first is the hardest sell – the Tour Montparnasse, the only skyscraper in central Paris, defended by Daniel Libeskind.
Before heaving Danny Boy out the top-story window, let me note with some satisfaction the inevitable – that all seven of the “world’s most hated buildings” are modernist. Some of them are surely not really among the world’s most hated buildings, but no matter. Let’s not be too picky while sloshing around in this bin of bilge and buncombe.
The likes of Libeskind, Norman Foster, Zaha Hadid and four other modernists I’ve never heard of (but I rest assured in my conviction that they are modernists) are tasked with defending the indefensible. Enjoy! But before I leave let me extract a passage from Libeskind’s defense of the Tour that everyone in Paris hates and with good reason.
Because they exiled all future high rises to some far neighborhood like La Défense, they were segregating growth. Parisians reacted aesthetically, as they are wont to do, but they failed to consider the consequences of what it means to be a vital, living city versus a museum city.
Before trotting out the hoary “museum city” dodge, as if Paris literally doesn’t change (even museums change), Libeskind lets the cat out of the bag. He claims it is the sentimentality of Parisians’ love for their city’s beauty that is “segregating” growth to the periphery, forcing the prices up in the center. In fact, it is the ugliness of modernism that is responsible, because Parisians can hardly be expected to stifle their human emotions en mass.
Modernists demand the impossible in order to avoid blame. If they were willing to fit their work gracefully into the orbit of aesthetic tolerance – as architects managed to do for millennia – then the populace would not reject their designs. But because they refuse to do so, they refuse to permit Paris and other places people love to expand and evolve in a way that would accomplish necessary goals without poking the public in the eye.
Yes, Danny Boy, you modernists are to blame. And the gorgeous photo by Luc Boegly above shows precisely why it requires far fewer than a thousand words to explain the very simple reason for the painfully obvious truth.
Next up, read Zaha Hadid’s rollercoaster defense of the bureaucratic monstrosity designed by Paul Rudolph in Goshen, N.Y.