National Civic Art Society Asserts Its Position on the Eisenhower Memorial Design
In the lead editorial in the July 2012 issue of Architectural Record, Cathleen McGuigan writes that the National Civic Art Society opposes Frank Gehry’s ugly deconstructionist design for the national Eisenhower Memorial since we seek to protect “the classical city envisioned by Pierre L’Enfant and our nation’s Founders.” She retorts, “Interpreting our founders’ convictions as extending to 21st-century design is an astonishing exercise in fantasy.”
This is precisely the same argument the Modernist establishment used when it came out against the magnificent classical design for the Jefferson Memorial (completed 1943). Such unquestioned Hegelianism—that architecture must follow the spirit of the age—was as false then as it is now. Even if it were true, who is to say that the relevant epoch is not that of the first and only American Republic? Read more.
Forum Was Not “Knee-Jerk, Anti-Modernism” Reaction
The American Enterprise Institute responds to Ben Adler’s commentary about a recent forum on memorial designs.
In the recent commentary “Modernism Takes a Beating at Forum on Memorial Design,” Ben Adler casts our panel discussion, “Monumental Fights: The Role of Memorials in Civic Life,” co-hosted by the National Civic Art Society, as an attack by conservative “curmudgeons” on architectural Modernism. Adler is correct that the panel was unanimous in its disapproval of Frank Gehry’s designs for the Eisenhower Memorial. However, he is wrong to attribute these objections to a reactionary, knee-jerk anti-Modernism. Read more.
Steven Holl responds to William J.R. Curtis’ commentary: Glasgow Neighbors - Mackintosh versus Steven Holl
- “We welcome criticism as long as it's based on an accurate understanding of our design. Unfortunately William Curtis' article is not knowledgeable about our design...” Read the Full Letter.
Read David Porter’s Defense of Holl’s Design:
- "Holl’s empathy for Mackintosh’s masterly manipulation light was at the heart of his winning proposal, but it was not a singular concern, more the binder for other strands of architectural invention..." Read More
Road not taken
Regarding William Rawn’s Cambridge Public Library: Given the engaging rhythmic cadence, the balance, the proportions, and the warmth of the original building, a static, “pristine” volume to set off the dynamic qualities of the original seems logical. But might it have been more adventurous to take on the challenge of singing harmony with the original, listening to its cues and strengthening the dynamism rather than setting off the original with neutrality, however competently expressed? As challenging as that would have been, I would have loved to have seen the result.
I became so thoroughly engrossed in reading your recent article on the Living Building Challenge, “Live | Build | Sustain” [October 2010, page 110], that I missed my train stop!
Thank you for making a potentially difficult, technical story not only easy to read, but exciting.
Something is rotten
Having just returned from South Korea and a visit to Songdo, I can’t believe you are touting New Songdo City as green [October 2010, page 61]. Creating 1,500 acres out of tidal flats and estuaries is anything but green, especially when developed solely on spec. The lack of insight and critique in this article does not serve the profession well.
Organizing a master plan around the borrowed vocabulary of New York City’s Central Park when Korea has its own history of urban parks, Biwon in particular; reinstalling canals and lakes after pushing back the sea; and covering the infilled land with LEED-certified buildings is nothing short of colonialism. In this case it is the subjugation of the natural sea environment that is being brought into control.
Instead of the question raised in the article of “how will it finish?”
I ask, How did it start? and, What is our responsibility as architects, urbanists, and planners to the health of our planet beyond the adoption of declarations and certifications?
Your October news story “Recovery? What Recovery?” did not include a significant figure: the percentage of people who had been in architecture firms at the onset of the major economic decline who are no longer in practice. While no comprehensive data exists, this number stands today between 35 and 40 percent, based on empirical data from firms across the country. Of longer-term concern is the situation the profession will face when markets revive and the demand for architectural services increases dramatically. When this happens, those entering the profession will begin their careers absent the guidance that would have come from practitioners with five to seven years of experience.
In November’s Lighting Products section the photograph shown for the Tycoon freestanding lamp from Waldmann Lighting [page 141] was incorrect.
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