You Got to Be Kidding Me!

Modern Architecture (con’t)

Posted in Politics, Urban Planning by Stacy McMahon on September 25, 2006

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!):

  1. 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.

  2. 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)
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2 Responses

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  1. ClintJCL said, on September 25, 2006 at 10:00 pm

    Well, the property rights are only affected because people seem to think they have a right to buy something next to something else they don’t like.

    Last I checked, when I buy lot X, I am only buying lot X. I’m not buying the lots around it, and should expect nothing of them.

    Its self-feeding circular conformist logic, to me. “You can’t build a borg cube because it would lower the property value because I don’t want to live next to a borg cube.”

    Well, maybe if people had the freedom to do what they wanted with their property, people wouldn’t buy property with an expectation to CONTROL their neighbors.

    I heard neighbors rallied against the fence that was put up around my house, before I moved in.

    Everyone who subscribes to this mentality is a cockbag who sticks their nose into other people’s business and doesn’t know the meaning of true freedom — especially if they start a crusade to control what their neighbor can or cannot do.

    These are the people who made it so I couldn’t have a treehouse, or a basketball hoop, and who drove up and told me I wasn’t allowed to play on the tree in my own yard.

    I made it a point to buy a house with no homeowners association — and will never live under the control of any H.A. in my life, if it can be helped.

    Fuck that conformist neo-fascist bullshit! All houses must be blonde haired and blue eyed!

  2. Stacy McMahon said, on September 25, 2006 at 10:12 pm

    Desire to control neighbor’s decisions is irrelevant. This is one of the purest examples of the market at work. If people really liked borg cubes, then your house would be worth more if neighbor built a cube, and much more if YOU did. But if most people don’t like cubes, then neighbor building one means a majority of potential buyers will value your property less than if neighbor’s house was “normal”, irrespective of any ideological tendencies.

    Furthermore, even if I myself don’t care about the cube, I have to consider the day when I would sell the house. So, if I know that most people don’t want to live next to a cube then that means the house is not worth as much to me, because potential buyers will be turned off by the cube and I will have to accept a lower-than-normal selling price.

    I completley understand the idea behind what you are saying, I’m just trying to point out that what your neighbor does has an affect on you, regardless of whether you personally care what they do.


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