Image-Making

We are surrounded by image-making architects who design very special places where columns are hollow. Its hardly a good idea to lean against them because you could be sued for denting them. The entire project, actually, has a hollow ring. Everything seems to be designed to evoke a stage-set image these days, having very little to do with the actual activities going on within the building or the landscape.

Everywhere developers are hiring architects and landscape architects to authenticate their deals by making buildings and open spaces which, like advertisements, call attention to the project. It has become a form of corporate pimping, if you will. It leaves the architect to serve out his role as what Philip Johnson calls “a design whore.” The designs are profoundly phony, Disneylandish structures and landscapes without meaning, or prohindity, or sense of value. They are full of sound and fury, but signify nothing socially relevant.

At the other end of the scale, as Randolph Hester points out, are the homeless, the disadvantaged, the socially burdensome; the planet’s ecological balance is threatened. Real-life communities and small-town neighborhoods are disintegrating in the face of shopping centers full of silly shops selling trendy knickknacks and doo-dads and taking over from the authentic downtown of the village or town.

Lawrence Halprin, Design as a Value System (1989)

joel-meyerowitz-nyc-west-46th-street-1976

Joel Meyerowitz, Broadway and West 46th Street (1976)

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