May 28, 2010

On Wilshire

Down on Broadway the sirens seem to ring the changes in pairs through the night; in Hennessey + Ingalls, a woman comes in off the street and asks if they sell phone cards. An older man comes in a bit later and asks if they sell birthday cards. Of a sort, I guess; they didn't seem to sell anything specifically on Utzon, my aim for the day. I buy a cheap little book on 1950's and 1960's British architecture instead, a book that itself looks like it was produced in the era of the mimeograph, but actually claims to have been published in 2000. On first blush it's not so much an apologia as a fairly straightforward description, but really nothing produced with a late 20th century mindset is going to make much sense of that time and place without a lot of special pleading and defensiveness, and so far I don't see much on that old obsession of mine, the description of what it was really like to live or work or inhabit these buildings, and how that related to the architect's intention (or lack of intention). Better, though, than the book a few metres down the shelf, a chilling collection of speculative future architectures that seems to have been produced by architects who single-mindedly conceive of architecture solely as a species of visual technology.

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