'Can Hard Times Be Good for Architecture?'

Critic Christopher Hawthorne argues that a difficult market could lead architecture away from a fascination with large, iconic buildings to a focus on the 'connective tissue' of cities.
October 24, 2008, 8am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"Can hard times be good for architecture? Probably not for individual firms, many of which will struggle to find work and be forced to trim their staffs. But for the profession as a whole? That is a different story. After a decade of infatuation with stars and with a digitally designed future that seemed to promise a sleek condo tower by Lorcan O'Herlihy or Winka Dubbeldam on every block, a period of tight credit could force architects to trade glitz for substance. Or, if that sounds a bit optimistic, at least offer fewer opportunities to thrill millionaire penthouse dwellers with double-height, glass-wrapped living rooms. It is no coincidence that both Metropolis and Architectural Record magazines have special issues out this month focusing on public-interest architecture.

A slowdown may help generate some much-needed new theory as well. Architecture needs fresh faces to play precisely the role that Peter Eisenman, Leon Krier, Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and others did with such success during architecture's last extended slump in the '70s and '80s -- someone to push architects to imagine, identify and define new paths."

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Published on Thursday, October 23, 2008 in The Los Angeles Times
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