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Apr 02 2008

PhysioProf Critiques Some Fucking Architecture

PhysioProf is neither an artist nor an architect, but he does know that a major difference between art and architecture is that artworks need serve no ends other than the creative vision of the artist, while buildings must serve a broader purpose. Unlike art, many people are forced by circumstances beyond their control to look at buildings, enter them, live in them, and work in them. So when I saw a photograph of this building (h/t Amanda Marcotte), my first thought was, “Jesus Fucking Christ! What kind of demented fucking wackaloon architect designed this, and what kind of asshole douchemonkey developer signed off on the design and paid for the thing to be built?

stata-center-mit.jpg

It turns out the ridiculous shitbag architect who designed this abomination is some renowned motherfucker called Frank Gehry, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology decided the design was teh awesome, and paid for the fucking thing to be built. Maybe it’s just me, but who the fuck would ever want to look at, enter, live in, or work in that building?

It is purposely designed to fuck up your sense of scale, proportion, depth perception, and expectations of what a building is supposed to look like and function. The fucking thing is designed to look like it is structurally unsound.

Now maybe that’s a good idea for an art work, like some fucking fantastical Dali painting the totally fucks with your mind, but then you leave the museum, go have a couple fucking cocktails with your buddies, and talk about how fucking wild that Dali shit is. But people gotta use buildings: look at them, enter them, live in them, work in them. Nobody wants to be in a Dali painting!

I really don’t understand how architects let their profession get so fucked up that an apparently totally amazing famous architect dude could possibly think it is a good idea to design buildings so that they are purposefully disorienting and disturbing to the people who are supposed to use them, and look they might collapse at any fucking minute.

Does this Gehry dude hate his fellow human beings and want them to suffer and fear his building, instead of be comfortable with and within in? Is he is a power-mad self-aggrandizing motherfucker who derived great satisfaction from the thought that he was going to be able to fuck with a whole bunch of ordinary people on a daily basis for years? And what about the absurd douchemonkey administrators at MIT who approved and paid for this building, and now force its students, faculty, employees, and visitors to use the goddamn thing?

Like I said, I’m neither an architect nor and architectural critic, but it is pretty obvious to me that building aggressively and intentionally totally sucks ass. It’s like a big “Fuck You!!” to every single person that has any contact with it whatsoever.

If any of my readers are up on architecture, please let us know whether that thing is just an aberration, and the discipline and profession of architecture are basically sound, or whether it represents a fundamental degeneracy at modern architecture’s core.

28 comments

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  1. 1
    hypoglycemiagirl

    I kind of like it… but then I’m euro, we’re a bit nuts

  2. 2
    The Barefoot Bum

    You’re correct: architecture imposes the additional constraint of practical efficiency, but not having seen the inside of the building, neither you nor I are at all able to judge its practical efficiency.

    From the outside, it looks kind of cool and interesting to me, YMMV. But the outside of the architecture is mostly art.

  3. 3
    Anonymoustache

    Hmm. For someone who likes to jolt people out of their comfort zones, I’m kinda surprised you didn’t like this building. Maybe Gehry is doing with architecture what you like to do with language? I don’t think the building is particularly pleasing in an aesthetic sense, but it is interesting and somewhat amusing.
    I guess I’ve worked in one too many buildings that had all the charm and grace of a fucking penitentiary.
    And who knows? Maybe the building is really functional, from the inside. Regardless, you gotta slap around your inner Howard Roark a bit every now and then…(Or maybe let him run wild….can’t say till I see the structure in person…)

  4. 4
    Abel Pharmboy

    Preach it, brother. Fast Company detailed a few months ago what a royal goat fuck this thing was to carry off in the real world – and it still leaks like a sieve.

    Money quote:
    “I still would prefer straight to slanted walls, so as to put up bookshelves and a blackboard,” says linguist Noam Chomsky, who has an office there.

  5. 5
    Cat

    It looks cool to me. I like funky buildings. It is a pity that, according to the Fast Company article Abel linked to above, the constructors did not get it right though.

  6. 6
    Erin

    …and in fact, it’s NOT functional. So non-functional that MIT filed suit against the architect:

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/11/06/mit_sues_gehry_citing_leaks_in_300m_complex/

  7. 7
    Helen

    ROFL, this is fantastic.

    We’ve long had a building with some similar exterior effects at the University of Minnesota (the Weisman), but it’s an art museum, so everyone is fine with it looking a bit loony. Most people hate it at first, but after seeing it daily for a while, develop an odd fondness for the thing. It’s plated in sheet metal.

    When I first saw the MIT pic, I supposed they wanted an arty-looking museum too, but no, they stick non-art academics in theirs. The concept of anyone thinking it’d be a good idea to stuff Noam Chomsky in one of those completely cracks me up.

  8. 8
    Helen

    I forgot to mention that ours is by the same architect.

    He seems to be something of a one-trick pony.

  9. 9
    Helen

    LOL, I just read an article on the Strata that was 3 pages of warmfluffy praise. At they very end they briefly listed a few flaws — “lack of acoustic privacy” didn’t even warrant its own sentence.

    Think about that.

    Lack of acoustic privacy in a place where profs need to be able to discuss things with students like, say, grades.

    Lack of acoustic privacy in a place where people are supposed to be coming up with patentable inventions, which requires privacy during early documentation phases.

    Lack of acoustic privacy in a place where researchers may work with data sets that contain private information. Heaven forbid researchers work in a lab where they can discuss their work with each other without breaking the law.

    That alone makes the building a total failure.

  10. 10
    bayman

    Ruining your blog. Just so you know.

  11. 11
    Anonymoustache

    Thanks for the link AP. It appears that it does fail at its fundamental purpose and then some.

  12. 12
    The Earth-Bound Misfit

    Look at the building Ghery did for Case Western Reserve University’s B-school. It looks like a box that vomited a bunch of stainless-steel ribbons.

  13. 13
    Dean Austin

    If this building bothers you, then you definitely will not want to Google “Scottish Parliament Building” and then click on images. It’ll just piss you off.

  14. 14
    the Rev Jerry Gloryhole

    Yes, it leaks. But it’s fuck-up by committee:
    MIT decided it was getting too dear, so they cut costs without including the architect in the discussion, and now want to sue him.
    Ha-ha.
    Just another good reason to invade Iran.

  15. 15
    old hack

    I love good archetecture. did you see the most expensive house in the world. I think its being built in India.

    anyways hey friends show me some love and give me two clicks to help me get on the cover of the san francisco deli magazine

    http://www.thedelimagazine.com/sf/vote.php

  16. 16
    julia

    I think it has a nice Dr. Seussy vibe, but a building which doesn’t accomplish what a building sets out to do (shelter people and their stuff from the elements and provide enclosed space) is not a successful building, no matter what Frank Lloyd Wright thought, and it’s not worth three times the estimated cost to build. Both of these things are valid concerns when someone is paying an architect to design a building.

    Grotesque entitlement-wise I particularly enjoyed Gehry’s dismissal of the rights of passersby to his endless series of aluminum fantasies not to get third degree burns from using the sidewalk in the spots where the reflected sunlight brings it up to 140 degrees. Whiners, he said.

    And Rev. Jerry? The project went over budget by $200 million dollars. That suggests to me that Gehry was given a whole lotta rope to play with. I don’t think MIT is the Rumsfeld in this analogy (although you could make a case that they represent Congress).

  17. 17
    Nan

    Great Buildings On Line (http://www.greatbuildings.com/architects/Frank_Gehry.html) has this to say about Gehry:

    “Over the years, Gehry has moved away from a conventional commercial practice to a artistically directed atelier. His deconstructed architectural style began to emerge in the late 1970s when Gehry, directed by a personal vision of architecture, created collage-like compositions out of found materials. Instead of creating buildings, Gehry creates ad-hoc pieces of functional sculpture.

    Gehry’s architecture has undergone a marked evolution from the plywood and corrugated-metal vernacular of his early works to the distorted but pristine concrete of his later works. However, the works retain a deconstructed aesthetic that fits well with the increasingly disjointed culture to which they belong.

    In the large-scale public commissions he has received since he converted to a deconstructive aesthetic, Gehry has explored the classical architecture themes. In these works he melds formal compositions with an exploded aesthetic. Most recently, Gehry has combined sensous curving forms with complex deconstructive massing, achieving significant new results.”

    I have to see a building designed by Gehry that actually works reasonably well for whatever its intended purpose was — and that includes the Weissman in Minneapolis. The exterior might be striking (and possibly even appropriate for an art museum) but the interior is not laid out particularly well. Gehry is so wrapped up in his descontructed aesthetic for the exteriors that he’s forgotten that the interior spaces exist for a reason.

  18. 18
    Helen

    “Does this Gehry dude hate his fellow human beings and want them to suffer and fear his building, instead of be comfortable with and within in?”

    I think we’ve established that the answer to that one is “yes”. Between the arrogant dismissals of people not wanting literally to be burned by his buildings, the fact that all his buildings for some time now are just the same old sad schtick, and the fact that he designs buildings to actively be physically harmful to those who use them (besides the burning, he’s got one in the snow belt that is a danger to those wanting to enter it because it collects ice and then suddenly dumps deadly weights of it onto the approaches to the entrances) or force them to choose between getting their jobs done or obeying the law (see my comment above on audio privacy), there really isn’t any room left for doubt.

  19. 19
    Karen

    It really belongs in California, where I live. Just looking at the photo of it makes me think there’s an earthquake happening.

  20. 20
    Kay

    I worked in a lab in there. Looks pretty much the same on the inside, actually – there’s random holes and slanty bits, and it does leak. It kind of grew on me though.

    Everything is interconnected, which takes getting used to. One of the main exits goes straight through the lab, and there are various holes in the wall / floor that lead straight into other labs. And I still can’t navigate the upper hallways without getting wander-in-circles lost.

    Also, there’s a conference room that gives people vertigo. The projector screen is the only square object in the place.

    But it’s a proud MIT tradition. The campus is a monument to a half-century of architects run amok. In terms of gratuitous dysfunction, this thing doesn’t crack the local top three.

  21. 21
    bikemonkey

    You have been tagged with the fucking Song Chart Meme.

  22. 22
    distributorcap

    it must be an amazing building if you are Timothy Leary

  23. 23
    Cat

    It seems that PhD comics agrees with your assessment:

    http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive/phd040408s.gif

  24. 24
    sager

    so. i am an architecture grad. student. not one student or rofessor of architecture or architect that i have come in contact with has a lick of professional interest, taste, or respect for the work of this guy. his work is taunted in professional circles, and generally held up as an example NOT to emulate. the only positive that he is usually associated with is the wider acceptance and ability of architecture to make and use new and cutting edge technologies in its construction and design techniques. however, it is generally understood that those should be means to much better ends than the work of this man, whose “architecture” nonetheless made such practices more widely visible. i blame a mass-consumer-economy media and developer interests to pander to a disney aesthetic, not Architecture. we students of architecture are being indoctrinated to loathe this po-mo caca.

  25. 25
    crowlie

    Heh, I thought it was pretty cool. *shrug*

  26. 26
    Susan

    I like it, but it would be better if it didn’t leak. Disney Hall is a beautiful, fantastic masterpiece, inside and out, btw. I love going to concerts there. And Gehry’s Fred and Ginger building in Prague makes me smile every time I see a picture of it:

    http://lava.ds.arch.tue.nl/gallery/praha/tgehry.html

  27. 27
    Johan

    A building that doesn’t work as it’s supposed to is an obvious failure, but if we’re talking about how the exterior looks … well, I sure think it’s more inviting than 95% of all university buildings I’ve ever seen.

    //JJ

  28. 28
    Todd

    Don’t blame Frank Gehry for his Looneytunes version of architecture. His mother never taught him how to swallow pills, so he can’t take his anti-schizophrenic meds.

    That Disney concert hall in L.A. is an abomination of a different sort, but everything Gehry designs is grotesque in some way.

    I’ll stick with Frank Lloyd Wright. Some of his buildings leak because contractors couldn’t figure out how to execute Wright’s skylights so they didn’t leak and sometimes materials became available later on that solved certain problems because his designs were ahead of their time. Wright’s most radical buildings don’t inflict nausea due to vertigo and they don’t look like someone took an architectural dump on the site the way Frank Gehry’s buildings do.

  1. 29
    fuckitecture « agnostik.blog

    [...] notes: 1.PhysioProf, on some architecture (link) 2.”Fuck Architecture”, they make a point (link) 3.A Facebook group available in your [...]

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