Originally Posted by lakegz
Very good point.
And the correct answer is no "modernism" hasn't failed, though my question would be what do you mean by "modernism"? because that is a very general term that was only really meant to reflect the architecture that was being built between 1920-1970ish.
But if your only comparing the difference of what was Penn Station and what is Penn Station now, then that is a different conversation that the one that this thread originally suggests. I would then ask the question, was losing Penn Station a real loss or was Penn Station a martyr for American historical architecture. We go through phases with architecture, the first phase is that it is new and this is what everybody else is doing with building, then after a while it becomes the safe practice because it is how it has always been done. Then comes along a new way of designing and everyone gets excited or hates that, then those buildings that they use to be excited about become "outdated" and old, therefore there is no care for their upkeep that their once was, then those buildings become run down. Then about 50 years in those old buildings are called blights to a city and should be removed for something better, new, and shiny. Then if that building survives another 50 years, it is seen as a symbol of our past and needs to be preserved and cherished like the form of iconic architecture it once was.
Here in Portland we have witnessed this behavior over the years, Old Town was once seen as a blight with buildings run down and about 50 years old, now the buildings are 100 years old and people are talking about what can be done to preserve the buildings and how to blend in any new construction in the district to reflect or look like the old buildings that should be saved.
We have also had a battle for the Memorial Coliseum which is a great example of amazing modernism architecture, but the community sees it as a dingy building that is a blight to the city and needs to be torn down, thankfully that battle was won by preservationists as of now and if the building survives another 50 years, I am sure we will be hearing people talk about how the city needs to protect and respect such an amazing relic of the city.
There is always going to be mistakes made in architecture as styles change and you might not be happy with what replaces it, but in the case of Penn Station, we were not around for that and from what I have learned, there was a period of time where political leaders were doing anything they could to save their cities, which included tearing anything down to make way for new construction. But with Penn Station, the people of NYC had no idea that the city would actually tear down such a landmark and from that it gave them the strength to protect so much of Lower Manhattan from the wrecking ball and highway expansions.