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Tuesday 03.25.08

« Elegy to Analog: BYOTV at The New American Art Union | Main | More on BYOTV »

It's how one lives not "in what" that is defining

Nouvel-night.jpg
Jean Nouvel's 100 11th Ave. in Chelsea

Last weekend Nicolai Ouroussoff opined about the rash of preening new condos in New York. One telltale problem is how the interiors are extremely conventional with elaborate exteriors... there was a time when ground breaking design actually pushed those who lived inside to reconsider how they lived (whereas this is just a surface form of avant-garde). The only project that seems truly inspired is Jean Nouvel's 100 11th ave project which sets up a generous visual rhythm externally that actually carries into the interior spaces. In contrast to most of these "surface" projects I've been photographing the Belmont Lofts building by Holst Architects in Portland a lot lately and it strikes me that that condo building doesn't turn its back to Belmont street, it is semi-permiable and urban ... it isn't a barrier, fortress or some status symbol, it's emblematic of an engaged civic lifestyle and very Portland. Also, the recent Casey project in Portland is more notable for its platinum LEED rating than its novel but slightly dull exterior.

Also last week, More Ways to Waste Time did her own art tour of Portland, and managed to find way more nooks and crannies in the art scene here than say the New York Times has in their frequent stalkings of Portland. She ate a lot of stuff too.

Brian Libby at Portland Architecture has two great posts up that further consider one's living arangements. The first is a tour of Pietro Belluschi's Burkes house. The second is an exciting Kevin Cavenaugh development in Southwest Portland... now that has some serious potential. Portland needs to think of itself as a test kitchen for new ways to live.

RoeblingBridge.jpg
The new Libeskind in Kentucky

Archidose has an important post about a Louis Kahn residence to be auctioned in May and he also points out a new Daniel Libeskind project. I actually like the Libeskind some but it does stick out like a sore thumb. Also, in accordance with the trend the residences themselves are very conventional. Libeskind's Jewish Museum in Berlin is a masterpiece but somewhere along the way his ambitions have been blunted, yolked and watered down and what happened at the WTC site simply pisses me off. It's the greatest failure in civic/design imagination I've seen in all my days. *Update, it looks like Libeskind has reedemed himself with his Jewish Muesum in San Fransisco, which sports excellent interiors.<br>
Last but not least, part of Seattle has been up in arms about this private residence. Weve seen similar things like this in Portland and nothing makes neighbors crazier than producing a rupture in the domestic architectural fabric. Still, I believe the alternative of creating new homes that appear old creates a very insincere architecture... a hypocrisy of space that undermines a community through inherently xenophobic design (excluding the other). it's the opposite of cosmopolitanism and I prefer to see the ultra modern next to a 1920's craftsmen, it tells me that its a neighborhood that accepts different lifestyles. Then again nothing good comes without some kind of friction or struggle.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 25, 2008 at 12:13 | Comments (0)


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