Friday, November 04, 2005

Building and Living Parallels

Just an interesting thread of stories I've happened to see that I thought I'd mention here. They are all not so much connected stories but a sub-theme in different subjects.

The first was a "The Life And Death Of England's Cities" by Ed Driscoll back on 7 August describing "evils of modern architecture". (He draws from a couple of favorites -- Lileks and Dalrymple -- too.)

Then Ed also nicely upated his thoughts here as it relates to the City of Lights Fires with his "The Machine For Dying In".

And, of course you must go to the Dalrymple link he provides in the first instance. These newly cast tenements built under the auspices of 60's and 70's Urban Renewal programs to replace the dilpated and overcrowded old collection of private ones are part of the problem as has been reported on quite often in the US. I am somewhat familiar with both the problems associated with these machines, partaking in the remodeling of some of the more sardine like residental areas here. Most people there, good and honest to the same degree as just about anywhere, feel trapped even if they aren't, really, just by living there. I felt what they feel while only visiting to do my work so it was good to think that the idea of megahive communities were a thing of past here.

Good to think until I watched the "Developing Brooklyn" segment on Lehrer News Hour last night. While this has been a controversy for a while, it was the first I had heard of it. I certainly hadn't seen it on the net or in the blogsphere. It sounded eerily "been there, done that" in a housing kind of way. According to this report, they are talking something like 4,500 affordable housing units on the 22 acre site and if I read the story right another 600 to 1,000 maybe on site or maybe off site and next door. The 4,500 units promised to ACORN is half of the total planned for the site. And, of course, the site is also to hold a 19,000 seat stadium for a proposed NJ Nets move to Brooklyn.

But let's not ignore the architectural side of the story either. There's the picture at The Gothamist where the design is extolled. Nicely, they also refer you to the NYT's slideshow where the project is described as "massive" in the first photo, conveniently explain that it will "forever transform Brooklyn and its often-intimate landscape, creating a dense urban skyline" in the second, and that recent revisions have substanitally increased the affordable housing component from 4,500 to 6,000 in the third.

Deja vu all over again.

But wait! Did you know the project plans include $2 billion in subsidies? Look for high priority money disappearing in the next transportation bill nearest you. After all, there is a parking garage planned and maybe even a bike trail.

But I have travelled far afield. My reason for posting this is that I want to know if we need to wait until the War on Terrorism is over before we start the War on Modernist Architects?

2 Creaks:

Blogger Ed Driscoll creaked ...

Hi there!

Thanks for linking to my posts, it's much appreciated.

I just want to clarify--when I use a phrase like "the evils of modern architecture", I don't want to condemn all forms of modern architecture. I love lots of Mies van der Rohe's buildings, and Corbu's private, commissioned residences, and their more recent homages by architects such as Richard Meier.

But after six decades since they first went up, the evidence against modern architecture applied towards public housing seems just overwhelming. And it's that combination that I think the E-word applies to, not all modern architecture.



11/04/2005 7:56 PM  
Blogger Dusty creaked ...

Ed, thanks for writing them. They were great. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a note, too.

I understood your narrow emphasis pertaining to public housiing. I appreciate you clearly noting it here, though, since it may not have been that clear in my post even though my thoughts on the disaster of modern architecture were made exclusively to public housing and particularly the urban renewal fad which gave us so much of it.

11/06/2005 10:33 AM  

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