Michael Rouchell, a New Orleans architect who frequently participates in the TradArch conversation, sent this design of his for an apartment building there. In allure, it is far and away beyond anything that has been proposed in Providence for decades. Rouchell said the design was about to go before the Historic Districts Landmarks Commission. I wish it luck!
Anyway, the design prompted a discussion of design review, and someone recalled having overheard the topic discussed at a party by some modernist architects, of the sort who always value novelty over beauty. They said:
Design review is corrupt because citizens on a design review board are effectively bribed by lowbrow but likeable buildings. In other words, all an architect has to do to bribe design review is to offer an attractive building.
My source marveled at the idea that “the attractiveness of the building is itself a corrupt inducement, so lay citizens shouldn’t be allowed on design review because they have a conflict of interest if someone proposes a ‘superficially attractive’ building.”
I guess design review in New Orleans is different from design review in Providence, where the appointment of a review-board member who might be swayed by the attractiveness of a proposed new building is simply inconceivable.