Tuesday, June 12, 2007

do the pigeons know that they defecate on a koolhaas?

Recently, I’ve been reading a bit about Rem Koolhaas (who designed the Guggenheim in Vegas and whose work on the new CCTV I saw and enjoyed at MoMA), Taniguchi Yoshio (who redesigned MoMA) and Frank Gehry (you know, the Guggenheim in Spain and every other crazy building that people love/hate) and I got to wondering...

What do the people who live/work in these buildings think about them? Obviously, the people who paid these men to go to work like their work, but how do the regular workers regard the buildings that they work in?

Do they go to work, awed? Does the fact that they go to work in a building that people google make them that much more excited to go? I understand that many of these buildings are museums, but Koolhaas also designed the Seattle Public Library, where “regular” people work and read.

What do these men think about “regular” people utilizing their works of art. Do they regard their buildings as “works of art”, or have they come to terms with what they really are?
Everytime I visit Los Angeles, I am always amazed by the Disney Concert Hall, done by Gehry. The biggest critic of Gehry is a Hal Foster (who is seen prominently in the movie about Frank Gehry that I saw last summer). Foster says that the supposed acclaim on Gehry’s buildings “has been the result of attention and spectacle surrounding the buildings, rather than from an objective view.” Truth be told, when researching Gehry’s buildings, one sees that they heat cement sidewalks to 140 degrees and injure people when snow runs down their slanted roofs.

The old question of fashion vs. function comes up. Interestingly, so does the book “The Fountainhead,” by Ayn Rand. In the novel, the protagonist goes along and crafts buildings in his own way, while other architects go and do ornate buildings with doric columns. Surely, Gehry sees himself as a Roark (the individualist who suffers for his art) and not as a Keating (who buys into recent trends).

What Gehry is doing may have at one time been quite revolutionary, but I feel as if he is retreading his own work--mailing it in, if you will. He is becoming his very own Keating, and even though he takes on new projects (arenas), he is doing the exact same thing that he has before...except the curves are a little different and the angles may be a little less extreme and the color of the sheet metal may be a little less copper and a little more silver.

Just looking at pictures of Koolhaas’ Dutch embassy in Berlin made me wonder. I saw an overhang, which I assumed was a lobby or waiting area for an elevator of some sort, and I wondered if people waiting for the elevator looked out (they are on an overhang) and thought about how many people are thinking about the building that they work in (and it also reminded me of this building in LA that I always wondered about but never had an answer to).

Do they have a sense of the wonder and amusement that the rest of us bestow upon the buildings that they work in?

If they do, doesn’t that cut down on productivity? Are their own bosses aware of that? If they are, isn’t there some important meeting they should be preparing for or attending instead?
In the end, every time you point a finger, there are four pointing right back at you, and that’s where I stand. I’ve gotten quite a lot done today, but wondering always prevents you from doing that little bit more, doesn’t it?


stoler, check out that embassy and voice my concerns to the employees.