fragments of an attempted writing.

My boss is a huge fan of modernist architecture.  When I used to travel with him in years past we would spend whatever time we weren't working or drinking either in contemporary art museums or visiting buildings he wanted to see.  During that time I came to have a greater appreciation for modern design but I could never "get into" modernist architecture, and it seemed the flashier and more popular the architect, the more I scratched my head wondering what all the fuss was about.

This inclination persisted until I finally visited the Milwaukee Art Museum for the first time (the first time in it's new building, the Quadracci Pavilion, anyway) a couple of years ago.   The Quadracci Pavilion was designed by fantastically famous Santiago Calatrava.  Having seen the building from the outside a few times over the years, my ambivalence persisted, but once inside it for a few hours I came to an appreciation of the building and especially the way in which it manages natural light.  From the exterior I had thought the modern take on a nautical theme, right next to Lake Michigan, a bit cheesy, but from the inside this seemed to have a dignity to it that even my many years of architectural cynicism could not deny.  So I started a wee bit of amateur studying of Calatrava's work and now in my imaginary world wherein I someday have money again I fancy myself going all over the world to visit his buildings.  The above photo is of the Turning Torso in Sweden.  The building reeks of gentrification -- it's design is said to evoke the city's blue collar roots (it was intended to evoke something of a large shipbuilding crane), but the building, among other things, houses luxury apartments.   So, though I disdain it in principle, it intrigues me aesthetically.  Oh well.

1 comment:

  1. I find the shape pleasing from a distance, but my first thought was: what's it like to live in a room that doesn't have plumb and square walls and windows? (Well, no house has perfectly plumb or square walls, but you see my point.)

    I also think it's interesting to ponder the disconnect between the extraordinary exterior and the presumably ordinary interior (except for out-of-plumb walls!). Form may not follow function on the large scale, but when it comes to small-scale things like plumbing, wiring, drywall, and the like, function reigns supreme.


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