ruminations about architecture and design

Friday, May 5, 2017

architecture criticism post # 45981

At last, towers of ilium returns to its roots....

Presidential libraries are a contradictory expression of ego and civic outreach. This combination of forces tends to result in gestures that play to the worst instincts of the design team. Great effort is expended on making the architecture feel original. At best and worst, they become small set pieces of the prevailing style of the moment. In the case of Obama's library/park/museum in Chicago all these factors work together in a predictable way. The strong axis, the double buildings, the austerity of the plaza, and the plain facades speak more to the emotional state of the architects than they do to Obama's character. Of course, Tsien and Williams are the go-to experts for sensitive urban design, but given a blank slate they feel compelled to make a statement that is weakly modest and ambiguously revolutionary. The tower captures the challenges of the presidency perfectly: a man who desperately wanted to be a good steward of the country and ended up ruling from a small fortress amidst a prosperous grove.

More and more, the building resembles a Picasso cubist sculpture in a late term pregnancy.

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