Alien spaceship in Alberta!

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Library of Edmonton, Alberta. Jim Kunstler’s “Eyesore of the Month.” (

Imagine if the charming little spaceship that landed on the Mall in The Day the Earth Stood Still had looked like this. Full global fright would have been the instantaneous and immutable reaction. Sorry, no negotiation over a meeting of the world’s great minds for peace. Blast away! Movie over!

Actually, this is the downtown library of Edmonton in the peaceful Canadian province of Alberta. Why have the Mounties not surrounded it and called in air strikes from the Royal Canadian Air Force? Don’t ask me.

But here is what the indefatigable James Howard Kunstler (The Geography of Nowhere, World Made by Hand) had to say about the building, which is the August “Eyesore of the Month” on his blog Clusterfuck Nation:

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This replaced original library (below).

Behold the renovated Edmonton, Alberta, downtown main library … or is an alien invasion under way? It’s hard to imagine a more aggressively menacing building than this intergalactic war-wagon. Message: Surrender, you miserable earthlings! Your way-of-life is over. So it goes with the unending quest for cutting edge novelty in the mind-fucked precincts of contemporary architecture.

This humdinger cost $84 million (Canadian).

See below, the original Edmonton Library … and below that, the miserable interim replacement that the current “skin-job” renovation covered up. What you’re witnessing is western civilization incrementally losing its dignity, along with its heart, soul, and mind.

Kunstler is correct that western civilization is losing its dignity, along with its heart, soul and mind. This loss is being replaced by aggressively menacing buildings like that. What something looks like has meaning. Such buildings signify the descent of once-flourishing societies into soulless machines, with the cogs, or humans, transformed into unthinking automatons.

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Career & Technical Academy. (Studio Jaed)

Providence is lucky to have only one single such building (so far); unfortunately, it is the Providence Career & Technical High School, completed circa 2009 at a cost of $90 million (U.S.). A year ago, on the first day of school, a boy was shot dead there. Cause and effect are surely very attenuated in that case, but not quite so much as we may suppose. This architecture is called Deconstructivism. No joke.

Its antidote in architecture, and perhaps in some way its antidote to current trends in society, is more than adequately represented by the design of Edmonton’s original library:

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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,, 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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3 Responses to Alien spaceship in Alberta!

  1. Pingback: How modernism is killing us | Architecture Here and There

  2. LazyReader says:

    When the Lunar Module was built by Grumman Aerospace, the first designs were elegant, streamlined, almost artdeco graceful. As the engineers realized the penalty of every pound and ounce added and aerodynamics Don’t matter in a vacuum, the craft took on the angles of a crushed can.
    It was the ugliest, most ridiculously assembled claptrap of a spaceship ever designed……….and it worked perfectly.
    Apparently the firm here adopted the same philosophy. We’re only gonna use it once.


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