What the Carbuncle bestows

Walkie-Talkie poses with other abominations. The Shard is not pictured. (Guardian)

Walkie-Talkie poses with other abominations. The Shard is not pictured. (Guardian)

Here is a fatuously furious piece about the Walkie-Talkie building that just won Britain’s Carbuncle Cup. “The Walkie Talkie is a sty in London’s eye,” by Ned Beauman, browbeats the building as if it had committed a dark sin equalled by no other building. It is, he says, an “iceberg,” a building whose secret crimes are hidden and even more dastardly than its straightforward crimes against the eye of London. Beneath the surface of its toaster shape (and behavior!), the Walkie-Talkie proves that “we can’t say no to money”:

What the Shard proves about money is only that there is a lot of it around. What the Walkie Talkie proves about money is that we have lost the ability to say no to it, even when it howls giddy demands at us like an addled drug lord riding a zebra through the corridors of his palace.

Huh? I don’t know who Ned Beauman is, except that he’s a journalist, novelist and literary critic with a blog (“Ned Beauman’s blog“). Yet he must also be a mod-symp architecture critic because, like the rest of his tribe, he seems to think that because the Walkie-Talkie has won the Carbuncle Cup, it is somehow worse than the Shard, which has not. There seems to be one day a year when it’s okay for modernist critics to criticize a modernist building. But the Walkie-Talkie is no worse than the Shard, and no worse than every other modernist carbuncle – and the lot of them are all carbuncles, all but the ridiculously few that manage to eke some grace out of that void in the tool box of architectural design known as modernism. And they all prove that we can’t say no to money – speak for yourself, Bosco! – and they have been proving that for half a century and more.

Read the entire piece. It is very angry, very funny, very true, and very moot.

[Your globetrotting correspondent will be in Martha’s Vineyard for two days; this blog will vacation in Providence.]

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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