Amusing piece, I really enjoyed reading it. Are you working on a serious study of the situation? Architronic would be interested in a reasoned critique. Let me know what your interests are.
School of Architecture and Environmental Design
Kent State University
Kent, Ohio 44242-0001
_Architronic_ URL: http://saed.kent.edu/Architronic
Dear Nold Egenter,
I have been meaning to write to you because of your research on archetypical forms in architect. Specifically the ephemeral kami structures of Japan. I was struck by those because of my research on the work of the landscape architect, Richard Haag. Haag spent 2 years in Japan from 1953-55. This experience had a profound effect on his work and in fact I believe that some of his designs have used some of the forms of Kami I have seen in one of your books. in general Haag has a great deal of appreciation for archaic earthworks and forms from earth centered cultures both east and west. He admires Darwin and appreciates the wisdom of our own genetically influenced tastes and desire.
As far as Botta's thoughts go, I have to wonder, did this man just open his eyes, had he been sleep walking, or had he been seduced by his own press? Sex, power and money are all biologically sensible reasons for a lot of what passes for architecture. I think the same thing goes for automobile design, etc. The problem is that the objects based on these impulses become oppressive when considered in great quantities. So utility becomes subverted and we are left with superficial beauty which does not energise or captivate us.
Oh well, we are primates and will continue on with our monkey business for the forseeable future. I haven't read your work on primate shelter, but hope to in the near future. Your work is intriguing. I hope to have more time to explore your writings in the future. Right now, I'm working full time as a curator of mammals at the Burke Museum, and trying to complete my work on Haag so my life is very full.
I have passed on these thoughts in order to encourage you in your work, keep it up!
good show!! I loved your reporting and criticism of Botta's latest interview.
thanks for letting us know.
Thanks, Nold, for posting this (which I have now just read). I have been cheering on for the last 5 or 6 years any and all reports of the demise of post-modernism--be it architecture or some aspect of academia. Oh, but if this fakery is dying... the death is too slow a'comin.
My first encounter with the word (and the design) was nearly 20 years ago in the offices of the State Architect of New Jersey. I was the new (and first) visual arts program director for the State Arts Council. It was my job primarily to hustle monies for percent-for- art commissions to artists for new state buildings. Hence, a close relationship with the State Architect was important. I had to that date been uncommonly successful in getting the appropriations released from his office. Not that day. He was showing me the new "post-modern" designs that they were going to be building. They were so excited about them--and, there would be no money for arts commissions because the architects did not want "original work"--that would be contrary to the concept. Michael Graves would be doing all the work himself.
I knew we were in trouble. I did not like Michael Graves' designs. They were fake, fake, fake. I was right. We were in trouble.
Within two years Michael Graves from Princeton University (so conveniently located nearby New York City) was the creme de la creme... well, if it's finally souring, hurrah. Throw the mess out.
Oddly enough, given Botta's heritage, one should take a look at Romanian mega-building under the Ceaucescus....it's a horrific combination of Italian Futurism and Art Deco made big, big, gigantic. Fortunately, it's collapsing of its own weight: the concrete was pourly mixed among other problems.
Too much to do today, but I wanted to acknowledge your postings. I will get back to you (as earlier promised) re the article you so kindly sent me this summer. I am up to my nose with new lecture preparations!
I do not have the time to send a well argued response but please consider: On your proposed "solution" to the problem:
Culture is not just words, the architectural models and drawings (the kind you find in architecture books) are about culture too. Furthermore Anthropologists are unable to decipher these drawings, or the actual buildings they represent, and thus they have an impoverished conception of culture. Of course architects could enrich their understanding of culture though drawings (as Paul Oliver is trying to do establishing a center for the study of Vernacular architecture at Oxford Brooks). Anthropologists have a lot to gain in understanding culture if they learned from architects to examine the physical (as archeologists and art-historians do) rather that using "platonic" stereotypical examinations of art and architecture leaving the qualitative out of the discourse.
On your definition of what the "problem is: Botta is an architect before he is a "postmodernist", a "modernist", a "deconstructionist", or any other equally inane term that represents nothing because his work can be amputated by any Procroustes to fit any of the above. Architecture is about life and not style. When it supports living well and opposes living badly it is good and beautiful. It is not words but actions that should be the basis of evaluation. I learned a lot about decorating my buildings from Loos's buildings.
I recently was on the Acropolis trying to imagine it when the paints were still wet under the Attic sun. The luminous blue of the Triglyphs blending with the sky beyond making the roof appear flowing, the broken monotony as the rhythm is interrupted by the corner columns pulled from under the triglyphs to a location almost under the polychrome metopes. Such a brilliant "modern" because of asymmetries building, so postmodern because of its gay colors, so deconstructionist because of it curvilinear geometries and broken "rhythm".
>From your work I know you see and experience architecture why talk as if we can trust the verbal/ cognitive rhetoric of the theoreticians? The verbal is useful when it becomes part of the poetic (in both meanings of the word.?
PS thanks for you mailings and e-mailings. I hope one of these years to clear my office enough and find time to reciprocate.