Hits every nail on the head

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“Spreadsheet architecture” exemplified by art with Peter Franklin article. (UnHerd.com)

Peter Franklin, at the website UnHerd.com, has written “The hideous spread of ‘spreadsheet’ architecture: It’s time to rise up against the uglification of our cities.” It knocks the ball out of the park. I have read many great articles on architecture that get a lot of things right, but few roll it all up in a single piece. Nathan J. Robinson and Brianna Rennix did it in Current Affairs, a left-wing journal, with “Why You Hate Contemporary Architecture” on Oct. 31, 2017. So here’s a toast to Peter Franklin and UnHerd.com.

But first, a timely quote I cannot resist: “Should modernist architects be involved in the rebuilding of Notre Dame? Yes, absolutely they should – they’d make fantastic gargoyles. After all, no one does ugly better.” And another: “Any other profession would be embarrassed to be overshadowed by the accomplishments of their forebears.”

Rather than express my admiration for Franklin’s essay in prose, I will use poetry – a list of all the points that he makes in one article that took me hundreds of articles and posts to make. That is the definition of poetry:

  • Deadening ubiquity of modernist ugliness
  • Beauty survives only in old architecture
  • Unpopularity of modern architecture
  • Modernism’s respectable code of silence
  • “We’ve been conditioned not to resist”
  • Tech progress could beautify the new
  • Today’s wealth affords tomorrow’s beauty
  • Old architecture attracts premium price
  • Now should be architecture’s golden age
  • But modernism is hoist on its own petard
  • Architects streamlined out of architecture
  • Streamlined process creates bland design
  • Fewer parameters equals greater ugliness
  • Blame lies with “form follows function”
  • Banality of the functionalist credo proved
  • Victims of “spreadsheet architecture”
  • Also known as “form follows finance”
  • Buildings actually look like spreadsheets
  • Functionalism is the assassin of beauty
  • Spreadsheetism makes Brutalism shine
  • Developers now clash with communities
  • Interests of ugliness versus local interests
  • The power of developers could be resisted
  • No one now believes new improves on old
  • Preservation feeds on this lost expectation
  • The old is thus more valuable than the new
  • Modernists won’t inhabit modernist homes
  • Lost faith in modernity damns architecture
  • Modernists overshadowed by traditionalists
  • Old architecture shames modern architects
  • Future deserves beauty as much as the past
  • Past time for people to rise up against ugly

Sheer poetry. Thank you, Peter Franklin.

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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1 Response to Hits every nail on the head

  1. leveveg says:

    Reblogged this on LeveVeg and commented:
    Nytelse, nytelse og atter nytelse! Dette essayet vil gjøre det til en enda større nytelse å feire 100-års jubileet til oldefar til neste år, selv om jeg blir den eneste om dette jubileet. Fordi enhver som nyter, elsker og respekterer våre forfedres mesterverk, er selvsagt en hatist. Modernistisk arkitektur er av skravleklassens fremste våpen mot deres “deplorables”, som har en slik grusom smak og forferdelige preferanser;-)


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