Building Essay

Any schools or institutions who link to the site are especially encouraged to support this effort.This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, Ph D.'' And in a telephone conversation from Nîmes while touring ancient French cities, he added, '' In every town there are three or four buildings that are universally disliked.'' Of course, some postwar buildings are routinely razed on the peripheries of British and other European cities, but they are usually housing projects that have become vertical ghettos and are destroyed for social reasons. Ferguson's point is that quality of life is also affected by the aesthetics of one's surroundings: visual harmony can be comforting; a modern block in a medieval or even Victorian neighborhood can be jarring.

And Dominique Perrault's French National Library, completed in 1996, is hardly more loved.Guggenheim Museum in New York, these structures become landmarks. '' I think we are being seduced by architectural photographs and architecture magazines. Urban design and master planning, including scale, are more important than architecture.That's why I am studying places.'' Clearly, the old has an advantage over the new.The main culprit is postwar Modernism, a style rooted in the purist idealism of the Bauhaus movement, but distorted by the rush to rebuild and expand European cities through the 1970's. Ferguson would like to slap with an X rating.'' I want the government to introduce grants for destruction,'' he wrote recently in The Evening Standard of London.The concrete office and housing blocks that sprouted up in European cities and towns eased demographic pressure, were quick to build and, in their day, seemed modern. '' How often has a bad piece of architecture marred a beautiful view?Brussels too has suffered badly, with tens of thousands of European Union bureaucrats squeezed into the soulless concrete boxes that line desolate avenues.London, at least, is beginning to acknowledge its grim postwar legacy, in particular the high-rises of the oppressive Barbican Center. Ferguson argues that a Grade X listing could release fiscal incentives to demolish ugly buildings and discourage developers from trying to rescue them with superficial face-lifts.Will today's daring designs look dated tomorrow?Certainly, a generation of architects with remarkable panache has emerged since the demise of post-Modernism and its kitsch embellishments of concrete blocks.How this balance is achieved depends principally on the vision of urban planners, yet in the end what the public lives with is architecture. Ferguson believes, cannot escape responsibility.'' Undoubtedly we are getting better,'' he said, addressing members of his institute earlier this year, ''and I see so much to celebrate and take every opportunity to do so.But there is far too much so-called architecture that I find deeply depressing, and too much of it, albeit a small minority, involves members of our profession.'' Still, to the old refrain that ''architects cannot bury their mistakes,'' Mr.


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