An affected, narcissistic creep, but he’s also a genius.
February 5, 2013 8:07 AM   Subscribe

Batman vs. Koolhaas. Critic Martin Filler reveals the true villain of DC's Batman: Death by Design.
posted by xowie (8 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
And please a follow-up graphic novel where Superman flies back in time and kicks the crap out of Robert Moses.
posted by Auden at 8:29 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Did I miss something? Was there a reason why the subtitle became Design by Death once near the end there? Seems like a strange proofreading glitch.
posted by RogerB at 8:47 AM on February 5, 2013


I'm not one for comics, but those panels in the first article... man were they pretty.

Also, Koolhaas's manifesto about big buildings from the second article...
1. Beyond a certain critical mass, a building becomes a Big Building. Such a mass can no longer be controlled by a single architectural gesture, or even by any combination of architectural gestures….
2. …Issues of composition, scale, proportion, detail are now moot.
The “art” of architecture is useless in Bigness.
3. In Bigness, the distance between core and envelope increases to the point where the façade can no longer reveal what happens inside. The humanist expectation of “honesty” is doomed….
Where architecture reveals, Bigness perplexes; Bigness transforms the city from a summation of certainties into an accumulation of mysteries. What you see is no longer what you get.
4. Through size alone, such buildings enter an amoral domain, beyond good or bad.
Their impact is independent of their quality.
5. Together, all these breaks—with scale, with architectural composition, with tradition, with transparency, with ethics—imply the final, most radical break: Bigness is no longer part of any urban tissue.
It exists; at most, it coexists.
Its subtext is fuck context.
...seems to be ass-backwards to me. You don't start with building size and then worry out the other details. You figure out how large a space your building needs to function properly and then work out a way of making these functions relate to each other as harmoniously as possible. Sometimes, yeah, making a statement is part of that function, but you can make a fucking statement without sacrificing everything else architecture is capable of doing in the process. The most famous buildings in history are at once grand and functional, and the poetry of their grandeur has something to do with how it reflects the building's literal inner nature.

The architects of whom I'm fond like to refer to plenty of modernist styles as "anti-life", and while that's a melodramatic accusation I find myself siding more and more with where they're coming from. An architectural space facilitates how we live, how we relate with others, how everything is connected. It's no mere art: it's living space. Architecture that isn't foremost and fundamentally about how to make the lives of its occupants better is doing something horribly wrong, and it seems that the last hundred years of architecture has been a study in how to make architecture as little about its occupants as possible.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:19 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The architects of whom I'm fond like to refer to plenty of modernist styles as "anti-life"

DARKSEID IS
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:44 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


You don't start with building dick size and then worry out the other details. You figure out how large your building dick needs to be to function properly and then work out a way of making these functions relate to each other as harmoniously as possible. Sometimes, yeah, making a statement is part of that function, but you can make a fucking statement without sacrificing everything else architecture your dick is capable of doing in the process.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:47 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The most famous buildings in history are at once grand and functional

Hmmm...I wonder. The pyramids, the Eiffel Tower, the Parthenon...not really "functional" in any meaningful sense, though certainly "grand." Architectural theorists have always been keen on the whole "form follows function" thing but it has seldom, if ever, had much to do with what makes a building great. Take the Sydney Opera House, for example--one of the most famous and iconic buildings of the C20th. Everything about that structure that makes it "iconic" is purely sculptural--entirely without function other than to "look cool" (and, what's more, to "look cool" while utterly ignoring any aspect of the local architectural context).

The problem with the "fix old, no new" scattershot anti-modernism exemplified by the Batman comic is that back in whatever day we're to imagine that the "Art Decoid" (?) railway station was being planned and constructed exactly the same arguments would have been made against it. Today's beloved icon of an era when architects really belonged organically to the prevailing culture is yesterday's hideous modernist monstrosity being forced upon an unwilling and indifferent populace. And by the same token, Rem Koolhas has a pretty strong track record of making buildings that people hate in the planning and proposal stages and quickly come to love in the actual implementation.
posted by yoink at 9:50 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, Koolhaas's manifesto about big buildings from the second article......seems to be ass-backwards to me. You don't start with building size and then worry out the other details. You figure out how large a space your building needs to function properly and then work out a way of making these functions relate to each other as harmoniously as possible.

I think this is a slight misreading of what Koolhaas is talking about. I take it that the Bigness Manifesto is something that's basically enacted once you've already determined that you're going to have a building that, for whatever reason, will require "bigness". He's not talking about just going out and building structures that have that quality just for the fuck of it, because that's generally not how things actually get built and architects don't work in that mode unless they're doing theoretical projects (and I mean theoretical in two senses there - projects that aren't really intended to be built and are meant to illustrate some theoretical concept). Rem, or any architect, isn't really going to go around building stuff unless he's hired to do so by an entity that wants a building, and what they want in that building is then what the architect is tasked to provide. Sometimes, given the land that the entity owns and the program they want to put on the site, a big building is required.
posted by LionIndex at 9:55 AM on February 5, 2013


And by the same token, Rem Koolhaas has a pretty strong track record of making buildings that people hate in the planning and proposal stages and quickly come to love in the actual implementation.

what's the consensus on the Seattle Central Library these days?
posted by Auden at 9:56 AM on February 5, 2013


« Older Comedy juggling by Michael Davis...  |  The Face Of A 'Computer' From ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments