Modern Architecture (con’t)
Clearly, I wasn’t clear in my last post. That’s non-sarcastic–as I look back I don’t think I made my point well. Christina and Clint’s comments just confirm it. Given that, a couple points bear elucidating (I got yer $10 word right here!):
- Nontraditional architecture – What I meant to do was respond to the WaPo writer’s assertion that “Not to build such a splendid, modern structure would have been a dumbfounding mistake. The error would have been noticed around the world…” It seems to me that the implication is ‘new and cool’ has intrinsic value of its own. The marketplace may say that it does, but I think saying DC should have interesting modern buildings because other great cities like London, Berlin, Hong Kong, etc have them just a variation on “everybody’s doing it”. A pissing contest, as Clint said.
That’s not to say that DC should always have neoclassical architecture because it’s always had neoclassical architecture in the past (though this is apparantly the city’s policy.) I just feel that if the motivation is “I saw something awesome in London last summer, there should be something weird and interesting here too”, that’s a bad reason to build something. A good reason would be that the design addresses a particular set of needs in an innovative way and was preferably “invented here” by local talent. I’m not going to have much extra pride in my city because someone brought in outside talent to build something intended to look like a shinier version of something else in some other city, without much regard for setting or function. Yes, that’s an aesthetic sense on my part, but that being so it puts me in the Ayn Rand school, which is also basically the Frank Lloyd Wright school so I’ll go ahead and hold my head up.
- Property rights – Just to talk about Clint’s point for a moment. I disagree on the basis that if your neighbor were to build a borg cube with pink bunnies that takes up their entire lot, it reduces the market value of your property because most people don’t want to live next to a borg cube (with or without pink bunnies) and will be willing to pay less for your house. So it does affect you, and along with health hazards related to industrial facilities, that is the reason we have zoning. If enough people want to live in borg cubes, they can in theory get together and buy land, lobby the county to create a borg cube zone, and cube it up to their heart’s content (as long as they plant trees so the next subdivision isn’t forced to live making the same boring cubist jokes day after day)