Vox Populi

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Video: How bad architecture has ruined American life

In James Howard Kunstler’s view, public spaces should be inspired centers of civic life and the physical manifestation of the common good. Instead, he argues, what we have in America is a nation of places not worth caring about — a landscape made up of “38,000 cluster-fucks.”

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Even many of our churches are designed badly.

5 comments on “Video: How bad architecture has ruined American life

  1. Luz Vega-Hidalgo
    May 17, 2015

    Thank you…

    Like

  2. Luz Vega-Hidalgo
    May 17, 2015

    Thank you Vox Populi

    Like

  3. kunalchheda05
    May 17, 2015

    Reblogged this on TechGrade.

    Like

  4. Luz Vega-Hidalgo
    May 16, 2015

    ” In James Howard Kunstler’s view, public spaces should be inspired centers of civic life and the physical manifestation of the common good. ”

    I absolutely agree, I remember the heartbreak New Yorkers and many people throughout the nation felt, when the NYC Old Pennsylvania station was torn down. It was a majestic beautiful thing, exquisitely designed with exquisite materials. But if they concluded that it could not continue to be used for it’s original purpose; wasn’t it large enough, famously beautiful enough, eclectic enough, inviting enough, for other things and activities to be put in it’s place. But instead they tore down this beautiful tribute to what was best in Western architecture, to the symbols which communicate the best and most noble which our society has achieved on the side of goodness. The structure emanated hope, healing, the power of beauty and benevolence, the sun, and the streams of life giving waters. But then one day they exploited and demolished the symbols, and all the words; and they replaced it with these hideous boxes that when one looks up, the structure seem to blends in and almost evaporate into the gray pollution of the city. The same thing was done with the old carefully carved and adorned Metropolitan Opera, they tore it down in spite of public protest.

    Many people in the city wanted to keep the beautiful thing. However a developer won because he had bags and bags, and heaps upon heaps of money, but little understanding and no heart, as if there was a Judas somewhere entangled in the deal. So they built a New Met at Lincoln Center, and it’s nice, but why not keep the old precious metal and stone crafted jewelry? Why, because many of these developers and those who sell to them, in spite of being geniuses at making lots and lots of money, have a tiny education, and I think they perceive these structures, not as fine art, but as being old. But the truth may be, that the bottom line most possibly in operation is that they became blinded by their own private selfish greed, and as long as they got their dollars, they cared” dos cominos” Spanish for two cumin seeds, about what the city’s landscape looked like, when they dumped-down their gray boxes on the city streets. Horrendous is it not; with such people operating the controls of buying and selling in our beloved exciting city ( God has had mercy) had we been in charge of the Parthenon, Rome, Pompeii, or even Chartres Cathedral or Notre Dame in Paris, we would have torn it all down long ago, and built great big supermarkets or humongous shopping malls, or very high, concrete, glass and steel rectangles, in their place.

    Why do we do this? A professor of mine once commented that perhaps it had to do with the fact that America is one of the most recent countries composed of people leaving from their more ancient home lands, and that it takes a certain human type of personality to leave one’s roots and journey towards what is conceived as the new, the brighter and more modern future. So that perhaps the humans who have left their centuries old villages and cities, have automatically turned their backs on what is considered traditional in their societies, and perhaps because of a complex and possibly, mismanagement, or poor resources in their local governments, they have lived with the consequence of many layers of neglect. So they automatically associate their ancient structures as symbols of stagnation. So that with such fervor, once they arrive to the new land, it becomes easier for them to tare down the structures which to us have become the symbols expressing the summation of our loftiest accomplishments in righteousness, however in their eyes the same structures and symbols, may be a reminder of turbidity. If this is so, we all quickly need to talk and share with such people.

    The structures are not a symbol of stagnation, or just the old. The classical structures before mentioned as torn down, were visual symbols and summations of our positive dreams and visions laid out by past architects, philosophers, artist, and martyrs, reminding us of the splendid cities which we hope to progressively arrive to in some future. We can’t give in to cynicism, we must continue to carry these symbols with us, in spite of the dust and grime around us. These carefully designed public structures are the eloquence which uplifts us and beckons us to concretely move towards that hope. These architectural symbols which I speak of, remind us of what we have achieved by the good and noble side of our human nature. They become more special to us, after being helplessly inundated by the many messages of evil deeds, and layers and layers of desperately evil deeds, and as you see being so tempted towards hopelessness.

    So where are the symbols of hope which speak to us through our eyes; are they disappearing, and we feel as pilgrims in a dry land. We are too often the recipients of too many contrary comment to this good human side. As we walk in the sun and through the air we are helplessly and suddenly overcome, by messages emanating from these symbols large dingy, flimsy and very practical, they are very high and rectangular boxes laid out along the landscape. The panorama taste like large warehouses and dust. Then during the walk, the echoes of famous words concerning the minds behind such large modern enterprises may come to mine The words which clang and cling, are those of famous philosophers, poets and writers read long ago. Long ago I was taught that their words were like a prophecy, while others contradicted that and said it was a warning, and that we must always be vigilant to a constant negative human condition that lodges within many people, in the same human space as the good. They are as two inseparable battling lovers.

    The walk through the tall dingy skyscrapers of the city once turned into a dream. The dream was seemed like a clarification given through famous words, but they were also a warning. The famous words resounded before awakening. The part I kept hearing was, “left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment’…It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies…in the icy water of egotistical calculation.”

    The links below is a little history and photos of the NYC Penn station.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=images+of+the+old+Penn+station&biw=1280&bih=637&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=VE9XVdHzFsjwsAW274HIBg&ved=0CB0QsAQ

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    • Vox Populi
      May 16, 2015

      Luz, what a wonderfully well-developed essay extending Kunstler’s criticism of American public spaces! Thank you!

      Like

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