Friday, September 02, 2005

hawthorne takes on katrina

jess alerted to me this article in today's latimes - christopher hawthorne examines the role of architecture in katrina - how some modernist symbols have failed us - in particular the superdome (but he also predicts a similar decline for the astrodome) and how the program of other buildings have been turned upside down - quite literally - as roofs become floors, highways become boat docks.

the destruction of the superdome in particular, has symbolic resonance for him:

"More common was a growing sense of desperation and entrapment in a place designed for leisure and distraction — bread-and-circus architecture turned into a place where the desire was simply for bread and water, or other kinds of basic relief."

he also attacks the folly of designers who believe they can create perfect climate-controlled environments:

"It is not just the architecture of the two domes, however, that is looking outdated this week. It is the very idea they embody so fully: that modern buildings — and, by extension, modern cities — can offer perfect protection against the elements, that Mother Nature is neither a vital source nor a threat but simply a nuisance. That notion is one victim of Katrina that none of us needs mourn."
with all the (justifiable) hand-wringing over the condition the new orleans' architecture, hawthorne undertakes a nuanced, intelligent investigation of the role the built environment (or un-built in this case) plays in a disaster of this proportion.


Post a Comment

<< Home