Does a Frankenstein Building Symbolize Architecture's Endemic Social Negligence?

Kaid Benfield muses on the question of whether architects are more interested in making statements than serving people, a topic raised in a recent commentary by Christine Outram. He uses Toronto’s deconstructivist “Crystal” as an entry point.

Benfield uses Outram's commentary, which contrasts Starbuck's customer focused research and design to architecture's obsession with form, to consider "the extent to which architects should, and do, listen to the people their buildings and places are supposedly serving."

Exhibit A of architecture's social negligence is presented as the "aggressively offensive" Crystal, an addition to the Royal Ontario Museum designed by Daniel Libeskind, "that jars rather than nourishes the human spirit."

Yet, adds Benfield, "I know lots of architects who are doing good, humanist, contextually sensitive design. Outram gives a passing nod to Jan Gehl in this regard, but only minimally.  He’s hardly the only one; this blog is full of great examples (such as here and here; more below)."

"I agree with Outram that there is some cold, unfeeling architecture out there, some of it celebrated in architectural circles," he continues. "And I agree with her implication that architects, as with the rest of us, have an obligation to society.  But where Outram and I differ is that I see architects as much a part of the solution as part of the problem."

Full Story: Architecture, public responsibility, and the art of listening


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