I’ll have to admit, when I first started listening to this, the revolutionary in me sided with Kurt Anderson and against John Siber who initially evoked images of the Dean of Stanton Institute of Technology castigating Howard Roark. When he attacks the building of Gehry, he notes “There’s nothing beautiful about the Stata Center, it’s a grotesque hodge-podge of various surface juxtaposed at different angles to one another…” and Anderson, rightly, challenges him by comparing the subjectiveness of his argument to the works of Gaudi. However, it immediately became clear to me that Anderson sees architecture with the sophistication of a Mac user criticizing the iPod. He’s already a convert. This interview felt annoying like a pre-John Stewart episode of Crossfire with the right-wing Paladians vs. the left-wing Gehryites.
I find it tiresome how many people like Gehry’s architecture simply because they think they are supposed to.
I reject Gehry’s architecture. Definitively and without reservation. Siber is correct, you marvel at, say, the Disney Opera house…that is…until you walk around the side and see the curving forms of the ‘facade’ are actually galvanized steel pole billboards clad in zinc and masking a boring, largely rectilinear building. The essence of architecture is a reconciliation of interior function and exterior form and presence. In this respect, his Vitra Museum at least makes the statement to embrace the former and completely reject the latter. It creates incredible interior spaces and functions, but at the cost of ignoring any sort of reconciliation with the facade which merely “is” as a result of the interior and sacrifices all its identity to that end.
In contrast, I also firmly reject that beauty cannot be “grotesque”, a “hodge-podge”, or a “juxtaposition of different angles”. I haven’t read Siber’s book, but I certainly hope he is vastly more sensible in his articulation of beauty therein.
Architecture is artistic, but it is not art. Art can exist wholly for itself and for no other reason. It can be as expensive and structurally complicated as wrapping a capital building in canvas, or as inexpensive and simple as painting “R. Mutt 1917″ on a urinal. Architecture is not that, and cannot be that so to consider it as being bound by similar rules of subjectiveness is equally as improper as attempting to define what beautiful architecture “is”.