Saturday, April 14, 2007

Hack Infrastructure will abound!

This morning, Steve Litt reports that a world-renown bridge designer, a hired consultant for the Innerbelt project, was basically ignored by ODOT officials and Michael Baker Corp., the firm who will be designing the Innerbelt Bridge. Christian Menn, a Swiss engineer, alleges that the approved solution is not an efficient or particularly elegant design, and that most of his input was dismissed.

BOTC does not know who is in the right concerning the bridge design. But we do have a feeling, based upon looking at Menn’s and Baker’s websites, which entity is more interested in design, and which is interested in all-things infrastructural and not necessarily refined aesthetics. This may be a case of sour grapes on Menn’s part or the exposure of a design + creativity inferiority complex by Baker.

However, here in Cleveland we tend to tolerate and even celebrate the mediocre while dismissing the potentially brilliant and innovative. For example, witness the celebrated mediocrity in Bob Madison’s + KPF’s proposed solution for the Cuyahoga County Complex and the dismissed innovative in Davis Brody Bond’s + Weber Murphy Fox’s solution. For another example, see City Architecture’s proposed food court inspired solution for a renovated Public Square. Both inadequately engage the potential and flux of our future urbanisms and will become monumentally obsolete by the time of their construction.

Again, leaders in the region are allowing a potentially dynamic and unique design opportunity to recede into the overtly ornamental, the empty formalist, the false functional, and utterly normative. The kinds of projects that local authorities and governments are undertaking will exert influences that will span many generations. Unfortunately, BOTC feels that our grandchildren will be wondering what the hell we were thinking.

As Vonnegut would write, "So it goes."


Frank A. Mills said...

This a bit off topic, but not really as it has to do with mediocrity in the whole realm of artistic endeavors and your statement, "inadequately engage the potential and flux of our future...."

In a recent discussion of the possibility of a fringe art festival celebrating the region's young and relatively unknown artists most of the discussion focused on the inappropriateness of a graffiti wall as part of the festival. Seems that somehow graffiti art promotes gang tagging. What was ignored was the quality of the art itself and that many of these graffiti artist may well be the region's future artists, architects, designers, and so-on.

Urban Paradoxes

Anonymous said...

Jennifer said...

Best rant post I've seen in a while on architecture. Good laugh, (even for as tired as I am) thanks.

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