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  #1  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2010, 2:37 PM
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Roger Ebert calls modern architecture "totalitarian"

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Roger Ebert correct to dismiss modern architecture as 'totalitarian'?
July 13, 2010 | 9:54 am

Roger Ebert is giving a big thumbs-down to modern architecture.

The Chicago Sun-Times film critic uses his blog to sound off on a variety of hot-button topics, from the Catholic Church to Wall Street greed. On Tuesday, Ebert posted a blog entry in which he expresses his personal aversion toward modern architecture and what he calls the children of Mies van der Rohe.

"Much modern architecture has grown tiresome to me. It does not gladden the heart. It doesn't seem to spring from humans," Ebert wrote. "It seems drawn from mathematical axioms rather than those learned for centuries from the earth, the organic origins of building materials, the reach of hands and arms, and that which is pleasing to the eye. It is not harmonious. It holds the same note indefinitely."

Ebert singles out van der Rohe and his generation of master builders for creating "an architecture that is totalitarian in its severe economy." A proponent of the "less-is-more" aesthetic, van der Rohe created buildings that were noted for their rectilinear minimalism and deliberate lack of ornament.

Acknowledging his own "reactionary" tastes in architecture, Ebert waxes nostalgic for the Gothic structures of the University of Chicago, whose campus is sometimes referred to as "the University of Chicagwarts," after its resemblance to the Hogwarts School of the Harry Potter series.

Certainly everyone is entitled to his or her own tastes, but does Ebert's architectural screed represent the prevailing popular sentiment, or has the outspoken critic descended into old-fogey bellyaching?
Tell us what you think by taking our poll. And if you don't see an answer that you like, feel free to leave a response in the comments section.



http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/cult...alitarian.html
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  #2  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2010, 2:43 PM
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Wrong forum.
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  #3  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2010, 2:46 PM
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Originally Posted by M II A II R II K View Post
Wrong forum.
oops where does this go? sorry im still trying to figure out what goes where.

Last edited by SkyscrapersOfNewYork; Jul 26, 2010 at 3:19 PM.
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  #4  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2010, 3:18 PM
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I think a lot of urbanists would agree.
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  #5  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2010, 3:31 PM
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thanks to whoever moved this thread
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  #6  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2010, 3:34 PM
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I moved the thread to the architecture forum.

Here are the results of their poll so far, after 2,228 total votes:
  • 37% 821 votes Yes, Ebert is right. Modern architecture is a bankrupt aesthetic perpetrated by egomaniacs with bloated budgets.
  • 31% 697 votes Ebert over-simplifies the issue. Modernism is a broad category that can't and shouldn't be reduced to his elementary terms.
  • 13% 287 votes It's true that much of modern architecture feels cold and impersonal. But it's a valid reflection of the cold and impersonal times we live in.
  • 11% 245 votes Please! I can't believe we're still having this debate.
  • 8% 178 votes No, Ebert doesn't know what he's talking about. Architecture needs to change and develop just like any other art form.
Interesting that the position most architects would probably take, and the only one that is a strong defense of modernism, is the least popular choice.
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  #7  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2010, 3:40 PM
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i agree with the 8% as jean nouvel said "architecture is the petrification of a cultural moment" and it must progress if it is to capture every moment

Last edited by SkyscrapersOfNewYork; Jul 26, 2010 at 4:03 PM.
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  #8  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2010, 3:56 PM
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It feels like Roger Ebert is becoming less and less relevant. Especially when he said video games can never be an art form. Blanket statements about entire mediums of art won't make many people agree with your criticisms.

I don't like modern art very much, but I do think architecture needs to experiment and progress, especially when we get new materials to build stuff out of.
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  #9  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2010, 4:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Krases View Post
It feels like Roger Ebert is becoming less and less relevant. Especially when he said video games can never be an art form. Blanket statements about entire mediums of art won't make many people agree with your criticisms.
I dont always agree with him. But his blog is some of the most enjoyable writing you will find anywhere (online or otherwise).
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  #10  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2010, 6:30 PM
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I could not answer that poll. I am not an ideologue. I like good examples of all architectural styles. The poll is worded in a very biased manner.

"Laypersons" have the right to speak their opinion on architecture. After all they have to look at it everyday.

Older architectural styles generally have human sized details (such as individual windows) where as some modern architecture has almost featureless expanses of glass or metal from top to bottom. If a large proportion of common people cannot relate to modern architecture, what does that say about its success (or lack thereof) in presenting itself to the community.
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  #11  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2010, 6:51 PM
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He might be oversimplifying, but he's on the right path.

Too many architects think it's about their egos or philosophies, and don't care that they design stuff that sucks to other people.

And what in the HELL is that monstrosity in the photo?
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  #12  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2010, 6:59 PM
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^
It's the California DOT Los Angeles region headquarters. It is widely hailed in the architecture community as a masterpiece, and is generally considered to be the building that won Thom Mayne the 2005 Pritzker Prize.

That monstrosity is quite literally the best that the architectural establishment is willing to provide, and they're patting themselves on the back while the rest of us are puking.

Just imagine seeing it take up a whole block instead of a 4 inch computer image.

Anyway, as I see it, this is the key:
Quote:
Originally Posted by DecoJim
Older architectural styles generally have human sized details (such as individual windows) where as some modern architecture has almost featureless expanses of glass or metal from top to bottom.
Monotony is by definition both ugly and anti-urban. Good urban buildings should have human scaled details to look at. I don't care whether they're historic or contemporary in style or material, I just want some freaking details on my buildings. I want ornament, and I have no patience for any architect too stupid or lazy to figure out a way to incorporate ornament "of its time" in his or her building. "Contemporary" does not not not mean "bare". If you're too dogmatic in your modernism to figure out how to make a contemporary building interesting, then you're a bad architect, and you invalidate any nonsense claims you might make about creativity. Want to be a creative architect? Concerned about designing something of its time? Then for God's sake, find a new way to provide the ornament that is programmatically necessary for large urban buildings; don't follow 60 years of dogma and pretend it doesn't exist in order to build the same glass box that 10,000 others have built before you. And if you do follow 60 years of dogma, don't pretend doing so was any great creative or intellectual leap, or anything other than tribal laziness.

I think one of the great sins of the current design process is that everybody looks at building plans / renderings on little 8.5x11 pieces of paper, or on an equally small computer screen. The sort of details that look good at that scale aren't enough to adequately decorate a 200 foot long building. Likewise, the sort of details that *are* enough for a big building make a tiny rendering look cluttered.
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Last edited by Cirrus; Jul 26, 2010 at 7:30 PM.
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  #13  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2010, 10:19 PM
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What I find interesting is that in poll after poll the public chooses classical designs as its most beloved. Very few buildings, monuments, etc built within the last 60 years take the top spots. And yet city, state, and federal governments continue to ignore polls such these and build modernist monstrosities.
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  #14  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2010, 10:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetsetter View Post
What I find interesting is that in poll after poll the public chooses classical designs as its most beloved. Very few buildings, monuments, etc built within the last 60 years take the top spots. And yet city, state, and federal governments continue to ignore polls such these and build modernist monstrosities.
It's also true, as pointed out by Malcolm Gladwell, that when asked, most people will say they prefer a rich, bold, dark roast coffee, when most of them actually prefer a weak, sweet coffee.

Architecture by polled committee is the worst idea I ever heard, and the cultural moment is always preferred to something pandering, nostalgic or sentimental.

And Cirrus, you're an intelligent guy, but that defense of ornament feels tautological. "Ornament is necessary, so when modern architects don't give it to us they're "lazy" or there's some kind of post-modern denial of expectation happening?"


I don't know.
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  #15  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2010, 10:43 PM
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Originally Posted by DecoJim View Post


Older architectural styles generally have human sized details (such as individual windows) where as some modern architecture has almost featureless expanses of glass or metal from top to bottom. If a large proportion of common people cannot relate to modern architecture, what does that say about its success (or lack thereof) in presenting itself to the community.
personally i dont believe modern architecture is disconnected from people at all, while older architecture may be built to human scale i see modern architecture as a mirror on the human mind and personality and emotions,a mis-shapen,misunderstood and abstract part of human beings that is rarely explored. works like Ghery's for example can be argued to relate to people on a very personal and emotional level only to be seen,understood and interpreted differently by all who come in contact with it.


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  #16  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2010, 10:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetsetter View Post
What I find interesting is that in poll after poll the public chooses classical designs as its most beloved.
The same people who would deny 1-2% of the budget for aesthetics, considering it extravagant for what should be a utilitarian public building.
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  #17  
Old Posted Jul 27, 2010, 3:04 AM
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Seeing the CalTrans headquarters in person...doesn't do a whole lot to change one's opinion that its still a jumbled mess of a building.

Shame too, since LA is no slouch when it comes to decent civic buildings.
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  #18  
Old Posted Jul 27, 2010, 3:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Buckeye Native 001 View Post
Seeing the CalTrans headquarters in person...doesn't do a whole lot to change one's opinion that its still a jumbled mess of a building.

Shame too, since LA is no slouch when it comes to decent civic buildings.
i actually love it and its brother cooper union, there just so...bold
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  #19  
Old Posted Jul 27, 2010, 3:28 AM
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I can't argue aesthetics, and as someone without an architectural background, my opinion is generally worthless. I just personally think its an ugly building. And among the sea of white and tan buildings known as LA's historic district, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

On the subject of Ebert: The guy's still a helluva writer, no doubt about that, but sometimes he needs to stay the hell away from certain subjects (he deliberately dragged on the video game as art debate to boost his blog readership).
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  #20  
Old Posted Jul 27, 2010, 4:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Buckeye Native 001 View Post
I can't argue aesthetics, and as someone without an architectural background, my opinion is generally worthless. I just personally think its an ugly building. And among the sea of white and tan buildings known as LA's historic district, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

On the subject of Ebert: The guy's still a helluva writer, no doubt about that, but sometimes he needs to stay the hell away from certain subjects (he deliberately dragged on the video game as art debate to boost his blog readership).
your opinions not worthless at all as long as you care about a subject it has meaning.and i can understand why you dont like it, though i have a soft spot for most forms of modern architecture.

and ya the guy sometimes seems to touch upon topics he seemingly knows nothing about and then continues to harp on them until people get tired of arguing with him.
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