Architecture

Fear of a Black Pedestrian

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In The New York Times, Nicolai Ouroussoff points to a practice he calls "21st-century medievalism," in which "architects are being enlisted to create not only major civic landmarks but lines of civic defense, with aesthetically pleasing features like elegantly sculpted barriers around public plazas or decorative cladding for bulky protective concrete walls":

After 9/11, a craving for the solidity of walls reasserted itself. And the wars on terror, and fractious peaces, enforced it. The Green Zone in Baghdad, Jerusalem's separation barrier, the concrete bollards that line corporate headquarters on Park Avenue—all are emblems of an unintended new mentality….That mentality has become acceptable in relatively stable cities as well, including London, where a debate has now arisen over what do to with the concrete barricades that surround the United States Embassy in historic Grosvenor Square. Some suggest that they should be replaced by a permanent, more visually appealing barrier, as if better design could somehow negate the notion that we are surrendering to the inevitable. And in downtown Miami, federal marshals have suggested that the barricades originally included in the plans for a park designed by Maya Lin as part of a new courthouse complex might have to be reinforced, even as people begin to move into the building.

The most chilling example of the new medievalism is New York's Freedom Tower, which was once touted as a symbol of enlightenment. Designed by David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, it rests on a 20-story, windowless fortified concrete base decorated in prismatic glass panels in a grotesque attempt to disguise its underlying paranoia. And the brooding, obelisk-like form above is more of an expression of American hubris than of freedom.

Part of me wants to nod my head, and part of me wants to complain that "medievalism" really isn't the best term for the trend. Most of me, though, wants to turn the microphone over to Lester Spence, who adds a little historical perspective:

While very specific design elements may have become more commonplace after 9/11, many of them had been in place for the last thirty years or so. The first modern urban threat remember was not the Arab terrorist, but the black rioter. Buildings like Detroit's Renaissance Center were noted not only for their use of curves as opposed to angles, but also for [their] use of military style bunkers to keep urban (read: black) denizens out. The bunkers have since been removed, but the first thing that I thought of as a young kid looking at it was the Morlocks. The curves (the building is in effect a series of connected tubes) served to disorient people rather than welcome them—which of course makes sense if the only population the designers want in the building in the first place are people who know where they are going. And the use of surveillance cameras were first popularized in the US in Baltimore, while dealing with a crime spree associated with young black male criminals.

If someone were to study the shifts in these design elements over time in response to what is in effect racialized fear, it'd be hot. And if they could combine a study of building design with car design they'd be really onto something.

NEXT: Invasion of the Prostitots

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  1. (the building is in effect a series of connected tubes)

    Wait, the Renaissance Center is the internet?

  2. “If someone were to study the shifts in these design elements over time in response to what is in effect racialized fear, it’d be hot.”

    Thankfully, someone is on the case. Enter Subtopia:

    http://subtopia.blogspot.com/

    Walls, tunnels, fences, security, immigration, underground economies, and shantytowns. I have seen the future, and I know which side I’m going to be on.

  3. It takes a nation of millions to be build walls to hold us back.

  4. “21st-Century Medievalism” is indeed a bad term.

    “Urban Suburbanism” would be a better description; the incorporation of designs intended to project power and control movement, the use of meanders and difficult navigation to confuse the movements of those who aren’t supposed to be there while allowing the knowledgeable locals to zip around with ease, the incorporation of bottlenecks, the fetish for walls – it sounds like most of the Florida penninsula.

    Or, as the author puts it:

    “The emblematic capital of this transformation is the Green Zone, the American encampment in Baghdad, where the 12-foot-high concrete slabs that surround Saddam Hussein’s former palaces have infused the city within a city with the ethos of the gated suburban enclaves of Southern California. It is a place with “the calm sterility of an American subdivision,” as described by Rajiv Chandrasekaran in his book, “Imperial Life in the Emerald City,” not a place that expresses American ideals of democracy and political transparency.”

    This is going to mean even more bleak, difficult-to-traverse, assaultive places that people have to walk through.

  5. So the wall around the Green Zone in Baghdad is sending the wrong message to planners? I’m pretty sure the folks inside the Green Zone having rocket and mortar rounds lobbed at them don’t give much of a crap.

  6. B.P.,

    RTFA, eh? Or maybe the quote?

    The principles of the Green Zone are becoming the predominant design feature of our cities.

    You want in a live in a place designed to deter rocket an mortar rounds? You want your kids to grow up in one?

  7. Seems to me Mr. Spence should consider that if architecture is a response to rioters (a point I stipulate without conceding), then maybe it’s the fact that they’re rioters, not black, that’s salient. Just because you can drag race kicking and screaming into an argument doesn’t mean it belongs there.

  8. “Urban Suburbanism” would be a better description; the incorporation of designs intended to project power and control movement, the use of meanders and difficult navigation to confuse the movements of those who aren’t supposed to be there while allowing the knowledgeable locals to zip around with ease, the incorporation of bottlenecks,

    I don’t get it, Big Dan. I mean, I appreciate Lester Spence pointing out that these designs were put in place thirty or more years ago, but is it possible he’s stretching with the ‘keepin’ out the black folks’ paradigm?

    For instance, I don’t live in Detroit, so could one then further assume that the area would…”confuse” me as well, since I’m not a knowledegable local? How do you pinpoint who’s “not supposed to be there”? I mean, if you’ve got a city that has a lengthy period of riots, why so subtle with the designs– making it so some vague group of ‘haves’ can outmaneuvre some other vague group of ‘have nots’? Why don’t you just do what the French did in the design of central Paris: make wide avenues so troops can move easily etc.

    The only thing that I would argue would be targeted at people of a specific color would be to pinpoint their neighborhoods, and then make it difficult to get from these neighborhoods to the clean white ones. But creating a public space where everyone can go, and put in contemplative architecture designed to keep out one group of same the public milling about in the same space? The hell?

  9. I’m surprised to see so much hostility towards walls. I suppose it’s wrongheaded in public buildings, but I really like the three walls around my house. My public spaces I like open and free, so I can understand the worry that public and city buildings barricading themselves gives off a certain feel. I really enjoy the fact I can play ultimate frisbee on the lawn in front of the Supreme Court of Canada, for instance.

  10. Paul,

    Yes, the designs are confusing to all outsiders. That’s the division that matters – insiders vs. outsiders. You don’t “pinpoint” who doesn’t belong there – it’s everyone who isn’t brought into the place and shown around.

    “Why don’t you just do what the French did in the design of central Paris: make wide avenues so troops can move easily etc.” Actually, wide “no man’s land” zones are a big part of the design concept, too. You can bring in force, you have free fire zones, people have to move through an area with no cover – absolutely.

    The racial element comes in when you consider the history, and the practicalities of why this particular office building in Detroit was designed as a fortress. You’re right in that the same design could conceivably help a small body of, I don’t know, Tamil elites keep a Swedish proletariat at bay, but that’s not what actually motivated the creation of this design theory.

    megs,

    You like the walls around your house, partly, because they clearly delineate your lot, and give you control, which is as it should be, it’s a private home. But public spaces shouldn’t be government spaces, where the government imposes its control, prominently granting or forbidding visitors’ freedom of movement, the way a homeowner does at her front gate. At least, not everywhere, and most certainly not in exterior public spaces where the public comes and goes. It’s oppressive in that context.

  11. Shelby,

    Do you really think that the architectural critic who noticed that Ford decided his building needed to be a fortress was the first person to bring race into the equation?

    Why did Ford want a fortress? Is every building Ford builds a fortress? Is every high-rise district a fortress? (Well, they are today. They weren’t always.) There was a very specific reason why they started to building urban places as fortressed right around 1970, and it does you no good to pretend you don’t understand why.

  12. Maybe these buildings were designed with the idea of a zombie outbreak in mind? 1970…night had just come out, dawn was around the corner…I am just throwing it out there dudes!!!!!

  13. Shelby,

    Right on.

    military style bunkers to keep urban (read: black) denizens out

    No, read rioters.

    After the OKC bombing barriers went up on federal buildings that were not already barricaded from the Carter yesrs (the guy who sent Iranian students back home without a by-your-leave and banned protests on Penn. Ave.).

    Was it Carter who had dump trucks full of sand parked around the White Houes or a later President?

    After the embassy bombings in the Clinton years, even more barriers went up. More after 9/11 and using planters as building barriers is already pretty old.

    If there is a real point here, it is being confused by the authors bias.

  14. I really like the movies where the Government is in absolute control and everyone is safe and secure and happy and stuff. we as americans should be willing to allow anything the govt wants to achieve that utopia.

    Newt in 08′

  15. Interestingly, the barriers to entry at the front of the RenCen were removed as part of preparations for the Superbowl last February (2006, that is), and everybody here hailed it as a great esthetic and psychological improvement, to make the place more inviting.
    It certainly is the case that the place is a maze, and it’s impossible to find one’s way around it–I was at a conference there a couple of months ago and got completely lost looking for the Marriott, for God’s sake. You wouldn’t think a couple hundred room hotel would be hard to hide…
    Detroit’s an interesting place now, as it tries to wrestle itself back into civilization. The downtown is a much more inviting place to be now than it was ten years ago, and, although some of it’s based on the usual gov’t subsidies, there’s much private investment going on–especially lofts and such. Hell, if my wife and I weren’t safely ensconsed in Grosse Pointe we might consider joining the rush to live right downtown near the symphony, the opera and the Joe, where the Redwings play.

  16. Why did Ford want a fortress?

    To keep out the marauding hordes from the dangerous suburbs. (h/t Dick the Bruiser)

  17. Geoff-
    The entry redesign to the RenCen was part of a $500 million renovation to the building (Winter Garden, People Mover Station, RiverWalk, redesign to make building less confusing), not for the Super Bowl.. Also, the Marriott has 1298 rooms 🙂

  18. “You want in a live in a place designed to deter rocket an mortar rounds?”

    If I could get that at no cost, sure, wouldn’t you?

  19. Considering how much the liberals HATE most big business today, I’m surprised that there aren’t MORE corporate headquarters being built as bunkers.

  20. After reading this article and thread, I just can’t get Conquest of Planet of the Apes out of my head.

  21. casino project are commin up.adding for fortified no way out monsters in downtown. greektown casino hotel will be a hotbed for the whole east side downtown area……daytime shopping at ren cen,lunch in ASIAN VILLAGE, STROLL THROUGH campus mar/hard rock cafe..tigers game time at 6pm dinner at pegasus…back to greektown casino hotel to the new hottest club…pass out in great rom on 29th floor…

  22. What I’ve noticed over the years is that university buildings built in a certain period look like they were built with defense in mind; ugly square towers, with little slits for windows that always remind me of the kind of slits on pill-box bunkers that you’d stick your machine gun out of.

    the incorporation of designs intended to… control movement, the use of meanders and difficult navigation to confuse the movements of those who aren’t supposed to be there while allowing the knowledgeable locals to zip around with ease, the incorporation of bottlenecks,

    Hmmm, so this explains Mission Valley in San Diego. Which is wierd, because it’s mainly a shopping area, where *most* people wouldn’t be “locals.” I have *never* been able to go there without getting severely lost and incredibly frustrated with the traffic engineering.

  23. FFF, I would’ve chimed in earlier but I was watching Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (set in 1991 incidentally) for a class I am teaching.

    When I referred to research I was actually referring to more high end statistical work. It would be labor intensive but not hard to create a dataset of some sort from which propositions about the relationship between design, geography, and demography could be empirically tested. But the link James put up is no joke. I wonder if the blog’s author isn’t already doing the high end stuff I suggested?

    Finally, Nick is right. The Renaissance Center (which does not have that name anymore, as it was bought from Ford by GM) was redesigned to make it much more open and welcome. I wouldn’t go as far to say that civilization has returned–for me it never left–but Detroit is a much different place.

    Thanks again.

    lks

  24. I’d like to note that in the late 19th century American cities created arms depots and fortifications out of fear of unrest. You can still see the relics of some of these facilities.

  25. I quess it wouldn’t make much difference to the thread to point out that cities (which grew out of the villiages outside the castles & forts) always had a lot of walls designed to keep out the bad guys, and mostly cause the bad guy wanted in (the whole rape & pillage thing)unless you could get into the castle.

  26. I do live in a place designed to deter rocket and mortar rounds, and I like it a lot, especially when there are rocket and mortar rounds landing.

    Form follows function, baby!

  27. joe – Let the hand-wringing begin!

    I mean, of all the world’s problems, building design by a private corporation? Ford had the right to build the damn thing any way he wanted, and he did. Why he did it is up to mind-readers, I suppose, and I would guess that deep-seted racist whack-jobbery may have had something to do with it. Being ridiculously wealthy because you and your family pretty much created one of the most useful tools the human race has ever laid its hands on doesn’t mean that you are completely rational in every other area of your life.

    It also doesn’t mean that anyone else has the right to tell you how to spend your money. Last I checked, building DEFENSIVE structures wasn’t considered an OFFENSE.

  28. I quess it wouldn’t make much difference to the thread to point out that cities (which grew out of the villiages outside the castles & forts) always had a lot of walls designed to keep out the bad guys

    That’s why Ouroussoff chose the otherwise ill-advised name “medievalism” for the phenomenon.

  29. I also love how joe has nothing but disdain for a building project whose purpose was sepcifically designed to do to of the things he supports, namely to “quell the white flight which increased, following the social unrest from the 12th Street riot in 1967. The project was intended to revitalize the economy of Detroit.”

    In other words, it’s an example of urban planning of the sort that joe would normally laud (anti-white flight, pro-urban revitalization).

    Except that this particular project draws his ire because it was built by a guy and his corporation, rather than by tax money taken by the gov’t.

    That and the fact that because it was a private project, the gov’t wasn’t able to force the project down people’s throats.

    See, all right-thinking people understand that the everyone would be happier if they were told where and how to live by by “expert city planners” who earnestly believe they know how to create an urban paradise. All those planners need is sufficient gov’t funding (everyone else’s tax dollars) and the power to decide where – and more importantly HOW – everyone should live.

    Props to Spence for the “Morlocks” reference.

    I’d say the odds of an utter dystopia seem more likely to occur in gov’t-controlled & planned urban environments, rather than in suburban and rural areas that are pretty much beyond the controlling reach of such “for your own good” meddling.

    Maybe it’s just an amazingly bad example to use, because one example of a private corporation engaging in this sort of “aesthetically offensive, defensive design” doesn’t come anywhere near to matching the number of such designs created by gov’t city planners.

  30. That bastion of mushy-headed leftism, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, is surrounded by “Urban Brutalist” quasi-fortifications.

    A lot of municipal and university buildings from the ’70s were built with crowd control in mind. The other example that leaps to mind is the Boston City Hall, but I’m sure there are thousands more.

    This is hardly new. The absolute core functions of a building are (a) protection from the weather and (b) protection from your fellow men. Buildings that are vulnerable to attack and intrusion, especially in high-risk zones like cities, are failing in one of their core functions.

    And that need for that core function will not go away as long as humans are greedy, envious, irrational and violent.

  31. rob,

    Any time you’d care to address anything I wrote, that would be…well, it would probably be as lame and hysterical as any other time you address what I write, but it would have the viture of relevancy.

    Or you could just leave it at “joe is a terrible person,” so as to not draw too much attention to the fact that you can’t discuss design issues.

    RC Dean,

    Brutalism didn’t develop for defensive purposes, but to project a sense of power. It wasn’t about actually stopping “your fellow man” from attacking, but about making him know his place. Its antecedents are not in defensive towers of the Middle Ages, but the mega-scale architecture of Albert Speer. Tellingly, the name “brutalism” comes from the effect of the architecture on the viewer’s mind and soul.

  32. This is one of the most interesting H&R entiries in a while…to bad the discussion of socio-economic class is verboten here (no mention of “gated communities”?) Walls and other fortifications are literal divisions of class – rich people build walls, poor people try to get past them.

    Walls around buildings send one of two basic messages – either “there’s something behind here worth taking”, or “we have done something to piss people off and need protection from them”.

  33. “The only thing that I would argue would be targeted at people of a specific color would be to pinpoint their neighborhoods, and then make it difficult to get from these neighborhoods to the clean white ones.”

    The Philip K Dick school of urban planning.

    ___________

    “What I’ve noticed over the years is that university buildings built in a certain period look like they were built with defense in mind; ugly square towers, with little slits for windows that always remind me of the kind of slits on pill-box bunkers that you’d stick your machine gun out of.”

    Where I went to college, we had a library of that type. I used to say, “As long as we have a library which looks like a parking garage, maybe we should have a parking garage which looks like a library.”

  34. Humm, so from Mr. Walker’s article and the comments of his like-minded supporters am I to conclude that any fence, wall or lock around an inhabited area is there because of an irrational fear of black people?

    In Reston, VA that was the accusation whenever any community put up a fence. Apartment complexes, subdivisions, etc. Apparently the “good fences make good neighbors” saying by a dead white guy was the beginning of an Apartide movement?

    Amazingly, whenever I have lived or worked inside of one of these fences there have been plenty of people of all races living in there with me. I did not hear any movement to tear the fences down from within, even in ascending order of pigment saturation.

    The only thing keeping anyboudy out of those places is their ability to pay rent/mortgage or their skills/desires in the workplace.

  35. Qualifier to my previous post: Maybe you guys are right about the Northern part of the country. My comments related directly to Reston, VA and points south.

    I did live near Chicago until I was 13 and can see how this might still be relevant in the north. It is just hard for me to believe that they are still that backward.

  36. For instance, I don’t live in Detroit, so could one then further assume that the area would…”confuse” me as well, since I’m not a knowledegable local?

    I think most people would subtly suggest that as a white guy you better have a damn good idea of where you’re going if you’re gonna be in Detroit.

  37. joe – Yep, anyone who has your number is “lame and hysterical.”

    And as for the idea that I can’t “discuss design issues,” well, I may not be able to do so in the technical terms designed to create a false impression of expertise in your made-up field (“city planning” – a bigger oxymoron than “military intelligence” will ever be), but I can certainly decide for myself where and how I’d like to live without the exclusionary jargon.

  38. Guy- You make a fair point, but I think you also totally misread Frost. The point of Mending Wall was not that fences are a good thing.

    Read the last half of the poem; the message is not exactly subtle.

  39. Joe,

    “The racial element comes in when you consider the history, and the practicalities of why this particular office building in Detroit was designed as a fortress.”

    Not really. You just restated the assertion, the fact that the rioters were black doesn’t mean much. Plenty of African Americans work in the Ren Cen, then and now.

  40. “Humm, so from Mr. Walker’s article and the comments of his like-minded supporters am I to conclude that any fence, wall or lock around an inhabited area is there because of an irrational fear of black people?”

    No, you are supposed to conclude that the actual, historical event being discussed – the incorporation of “anti-personnel” elements into urban design – came about as a response to the black riots of the late 1960s. That is an historical fact, whether you like the way it makes you feel or not.

    “Good fences make good neighbors” were words that Frost put in the mouth of a unsympathetic character whose ideas were implicitly refuted throughout the poem. That was something a mean, dumb person said.

    Reston, Virginia IS “the northern part of the country.”

    And yes, the “insider/outsider” divide that some feel the need to enforce so powerfully in the suburbs is based on economic class more than race these days. At the time this design theory became popular, however, there was much less distinction between the two categories – it was about middle class or above white people keeping out less-white masses of people from the city.

  41. kohlrabi,

    The fact that the rioters were black means that the “anti-riot” design was made popular out of concern about black rioters.

  42. Do you think, kohlrabi, that violent mobs of white suburbanites were a major motivation for the design of the site?

  43. Wow, hissy fit central here. Did Ann Coulter call someone else a non-PC version of metrosexual or something?

  44. I read once that “Brutalism” is derived from “Breton Brut”–French for “raw concrete”.

    I was a bit confused at how that architectural movement received its name. I couldn’t imagine an architect in the 60s intentionally, publicly coming up with the idea of calling his building a brutal one.

  45. After reading Joe’s comment on Frost’s poem, I must say I’m a little scared; I’ve agreed with him more often than not the past couple of days.

    Did I catch a case of the progressives?*

    * You should hear that sentence in a sardonic, but jocular tone.

  46. Okay, I am beginning to change my mind about this.

    One little technical thingie I need some help with. How did the barriers distinguish the race of the rioters? Do barriers in Chicago let white rioters in, like Abbey Hoffman, but keep black rioters out?

  47. Joe,

    Were there violent mobs of white suburbanites? If there were, then yes that would’ve been a motivation. Are you seriously telling me that in ‘black rioters’ the motivation for building a fort comes from the ‘black’ part?

    “The fact that the rioters were black means that the “anti-riot” design was made popular out of concern about black rioters.”

    Again, this is just restating your assertion. Is there any evidence for this or is this some sort of semantic game?

    “The fact that the rioters were from the Midwest means that the “anti-riot” design was made popular out of concern about Midwestern rioters.”

    Technically correct, I guess.

  48. Number 6,

    No, you’ve caught a case of the literates. The Frost poem really doesn’t leave much doubt.

    Guy,

    Playing dumb is a good strategy for covering your retreat.

  49. seems there are some pretty good reasons to fear the black pedestrian (especially when he’s in a dark corner, wears a hoodie, and has his hands in his pockets — chances are he will hold you at gunpoint and shake you down for your valuables.

  50. Oh, and if one thinks that Reston, VA is in the northern part of the country they should consult a map.

    Granted, the place is full of rich white Leftists, wealthy folk of other races too, plus plenty of low-income housing, but it is not located in the “north” by any means.

    Yes, I frequently joke that anything north of Oneida, TN is the North, but it really is a joke.

  51. kohlrabi,

    Good – now you’ve gone from arguing that fear of black rioters wasn’t the motivation, to arguing that it was the motivation, but that it was rational.

    Of course there weren’t rampaging white rioters from the suburbs. There were rampaging black rioters from the cities.

    And, btw, the race riots of the 1960s, and the anti-personnel urban designs that followed them, were not limited to the mid-west.

  52. If one thinks that Reston Virginia is culturally southern, one should consult a shrink.

  53. So how were the white rioters let in and the black rioters kept out?

    Maybe it was staged, but I remember the Democrat National Convention where all of those white, closed-shop-union-Democrat cops were tuning up white rioters Left and Left.

    Maybe they should have found the “whites only” gates to the convention and riot inside.

  54. Newspeak edition 69: “culturally southern”

  55. Joe, you are a tedious, quibbling prig.

    It’s a beautiful day, and I am going skiing. Have a nice day, everyone.

  56. When was the Mulford Act passed and what was the impetus for its passage? Inquiring minds want to know. Does this have anything in common with what is being discussed here?

    When did the Southern Strategy become the framework of Republican presidential politics? Is this somehow related to the discussion?

    Also, for some odd reason, I’ve got a strong desire to bum rush the show.

  57. Tellingly, the name “brutalism” comes from the effect of the architecture on the viewer’s mind and soul.

    This is a sin to the “progressive” mind, since preserving tender feelings of the most fragile and easily-offended among us (and those groups are defined by the “enlightened” “progressives” among us) is of utmost importance.

    I read joe attempt to make a moral case, and I can’t help but picture a very cowardly, weak, and completely pussified version of My Little Pony. Why does “progressive” have to mean “sad, pathetic little wimp of a loser”?

  58. Some telling quotes about city planners from the Princeton Review’s Career Profile:

    “City planners help design cities and make such determinations as the height of buildings, the width of streets, the number of street signs, and the design and location of street ‘furniture’ (everything from bus stops and lampposts to newsstands and wastebaskets).”

    Nothing wrong with that, right? Oh, but that sort of thing simply isn’t grandiose enough:

    “Deciding how a city is set up involves creativity, and a career in city planning demands the knowledge of basic engineering principles, the ability to compromise, political diplomacy, and financial acumen… [SNIP] This last consideration factor can be difficult- urban-planning projects nearly always run over budget and past deadline, and even the most frugal design can be expected to run into opposition from some quarter.”

    What a shock – city planning is often so disconnected from concerns about actual cost that even the career description refers to how financially inefficient the field is. Best to prepare the little darlings for the reality that their utopian designs will take longer to complete than they expect because they’ll inevitably have to get taxpayers to cough up more money.

    “Strong analytic skills and sheer force of will are required to be a successful urban planner.”

    Because a successful city planning project is truly “A Triumph Of The Will.” It takes a lot of will power to be able to tell other people how and where to live.

    “Every building or structure must be designed with an understanding of its relationship to other elements of the city, such as coordinating the construction of water and power facilities, while still allowing people access to light, heat, and fresh water, or designing housing complexes that will be close to public transportation. Aesthetic design, another feature that the planner must consider, can be the subject of hot debate.”

    See where accomodating human beings comes into that list, right? Dead last. And of course, public transportation is one of the cornerstones of the field. And of course, some small-minded group of non-experts – who obviously don’t have city planning degrees! – are sure to disagree with the city planner’s “brilliant aesthetic design.”

    “The urban planner has to design with an understanding of the policies of the city and create economically viable plans.”

    Or at least come to the understanding that they have an unlimited budget because the people the tax money is coming from can’t tell them “no” or “that’s too expensive,” or even, “why do we need a monorail system?”

    “The planner begins by surveying sites and performing demographic, economic, and environmental studies to assess the needs of the community and encourage public participation in the process. If the planner is redeveloping an area (as opposed to groundbreaking or landfilling it), he or she must evaluate existing buildings and neighborhoods before determining what can be done to change the standing structures.”

    As seen in Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, starring Joe as Prosser:

    “MR. L. PROSSER, an overweight, weary and red-faced man with graying black hair sighs deeply. He is leaning on the edge of the bulldozer and looking down at ARTHUR, who lies in the mud with his arms crossed.

    NARRATOR: Mr. L. Prosser, as they say, is only human.

    ARTHUR looks back up at PROSSER with an intense distaste and defiance.

    NARRATOR: In other words, he was a carbon based, bipedal life form descended from an ape. To be precise, he was forty, worked for the local council, and was irritated that his bulldozer was being blocked, quite stubbornly, by Arthur Dent. Curiously enough, he was unknowingly a direct male-line descendant of Genghis Khan, although intervening generations, racial mixing and whatnot had juggled his genes enough to erase any Mongolian characteristics. The only traces of Mr. Prosser’s ancestry remaining was a stoutness about the stomach and a predilection for little fur hats.

    PROSSER tries to put on a steely-eyed look, but fails somewhat miserably…

    PROSSER: You know, you were entitled to make suggestions or protests at the appropriate time.

    ARTHUR looks furious.

    ARTHUR: Appropriate time!? APPROPRIATE TIME!? The first time I heard of this was when a workman came by my house yesterday! I asked him if he’d come to clean the windows, but no, he said he’d come to knock the house down! And that was only after he’d wiped down a few windows and charged me a fiver.

    PROSSER: But Mr. Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months.

    ARTHUR: Oh, yes, soon as I heard of this plan, I went straight around to see them yesterday afternoon. You hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to call much attention to them, had you? Such as maybe telling someone about them?

    PROSSER looks more uncomfortable.

    PROSSER: Well, the plans were on display –

    ARTHUR: On display? I had to go down to the cellar to find them!

    PROSSER: That’s the display department.

    ARTHUR: With a flashlight.

    PROSSER: Well, the lights had probably gone.

    ARTHUR: So had the stairs.

    PROSSER: Er – well – you did find them, didn’t you?

    ARTHUR: Oh, yes. Yes, I did. The plans were on display, in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet, stuck in a disused lavatory, with a sign on the door reading “Beware of the Leopard.”

    PROSSER seems stunned by this. He pauses to think for quite a long time. ARTHUR settles down a little bit.

    PROSSER: (quietly) Well…it’s not like it’s a particularly nice house.

    ARTHUR: I beg your pardon! It’s my house! Sorry, but I happen to like it!”

    “Recent graduates should look to their state’s Department of Transportation or look into civil engineering courses sponsored by the United States Army Corps of Engineers…”

    This bit would be more aptly titled “Your Exciting Career As A ‘Bold Bureaucrat!'”

    “Urban planners should have an undergraduate degree in an area such as civil engineering, architecture, or public administration.”

    (Caveat to aspiring city planners: The first two actually require intelligence and mental discipline, so stick to public administration.)

    “Most schools do not offer undergraduate degrees in structural engineering, but many employers look favorably on candidates who have studied structural engineering at the master’s level.”

    Because actually understanding whether the structure will stand is of tertiary importance at best!

    “A master’s degree in city or regional planning or structural engineering is the highest laurel and respected by all employers.”

    Except employers who know what city planners actually do.

    “One 30-year structural engineer noticed that many recent graduates handle textbook problems wonderfully, but are less apt at identifying and coping with real-life problems.”

    Say it isn’t so! A guy with 30 years of structural engineering experience has found most recent city planning grads have no idea what is actually useful in the real world? Well, he probably doesn’t even have a degree in public administration, much less city planning! He’s no expert!

    “After four years of working full-time, urban planners are eligible to take a step-one licensing test. There are two of these tests (step one and step two); which one a planner takes depends on his or her interests and area of expertise. After getting this license and working for four additional years, serious candidates take another test to obtain the title of professional engineer. These certifications are not required, but they are respected within the profession. Generally, acquiring these licenses leads to a promotion and increases in salary.”

    Because to prove expertise in a field that doesn’t require any actual expertise usually means a licensing process. Those who get this sort of license usually get a hefty pay raise and promotion, because gov’t agencies like to have some sort of metric – any sort, really – to point to.

    City planners – the guys they should have put on the Golgafrincham ships with the telephone sanitation engineers…

  59. Joe,

    “Good – now you’ve gone from arguing that fear of black rioters wasn’t the motivation, to arguing that it was the motivation, but that it was rational.”

    I’ve done no such thing. I’ve illustrated that ‘black’ is as relevant as ‘Midwestern’ to the fact that they are ‘rioters’, the operative word. Replace it with humanoid, or american, if it pleases you. Save your condescension for someone else.

    You have yet to prove that the motivation was racist yet continue to assert that it is. Some evidence might be nice. Part of that might include showing how white rioters were allowed in and African American non-rioters were kept out. This is basic logic, and you know that.

  60. Look, I’ll write this one more time, and you’re either going to get it, or not.

    The roots of the anti-personnel school of design in the United States, which is the subject of this piece, were the race riots of the 1960s. Those design elements were created for the specific purpose of creating places that could be defended in case they happened again. Noticing that white people can’t walk through concrete, either, doesn’t change this historical fact.

  61. Londry,

    One cannot object to the deliberate use of architecture to brutalize without being “My Little Pony?” That’s just moronic.

    rob,

    Still nothing to contribute? Oh, wait, “joe is a bad person” and “city planners are bad, mmm-kay.” Got it.

  62. What I’ve noticed over the years is that university buildings built in a certain period look like they were built with defense in mind; ugly square towers, with little slits for windows that always remind me of the kind of slits on pill-box bunkers that you’d stick your machine gun out of.

    Like the Boston U. Law Tower: tallest law school in the US, built of blocky dark gray concrete with red plastic panels. Looks like something Emperor Palpatine would have ordered. Built right next to a few much nicer, shorter old classical buildings. There is actually a student legend that the building is so ugly, that when the architect saw the completed tower he was so horrified by what he’d done that he threw himself off the roof. Sadly, it’s not true, but it gives you an idea of what the students think of the design.

  63. New York’s Freedom Tower…rests on a 20-story, windowless fortified concrete base decorated in prismatic glass panels in a grotesque attempt to disguise its underlying paranoia

    It’s hardly paranoia, given the two previous bombings of the WTC. Will prospective tenants be “paranoid” if they weigh the risks of moving into a prime target of international terrorism, and choose not to?

  64. then why, o wise joe,

    are thoroughly planned cities even shittier than the unplanned? Brasilia — a disgrace. Canberra — not much better. Islamabad — Islam’s bad but architect still badder!

  65. Rob- I must have missed the part where the conversation turned into a debate of the merits of urban planning/planners. Perhaps you meant that we should ignore Joe because he is an urban planner. I doubt that I need to name that particular fallacy for you.

    This is an interesting discussion, and it would be nice if we could continue it with a minimum of poo-flinging.

    Joe, et al: While I can’t claim any special knowledge about what the designers of the Ren Center were thinking (until yesterday, I was not aware it existed) I will say that the phenomenon of using design to keep out undesirables is quite real. I grew up in a suburb of Kansas City called Prairie Village, KS. That suburb was restricted to whites by title covenants, although by the time I was born, they were no longer recognized or enforced. But the covenants were not the only way of repelling undesirables. The streets themselves were designed to be confusing to outsiders. There are few through streets, the numbering system is spotty at best, streets with the same name are almost never connected (or even within miles of each other), and the city is full of cul-de-sacs. All of that was by design. People who lived there knew their way around. Outsiders got lost and left.

  66. The City Planner Career File is from: http://www.princetonreview.com/cte/profiles/dayInLife.asp?careerID=162

    The HHGTG stuff is available with a quick Google.

    The vitriol directed at city planners in general, and joe in particular, is the result of direct experience with the first, lengthy virtual experience with the second, and perhaps partially due to the fact that I missed breakfast this morning…

  67. PPS to say nothing of the cites de la Banlieu de Paris or satellite towns like Basildon.

  68. Brutalism didn’t develop for defensive purposes, but to project a sense of power.

    Oddly, these are not mutually exclusive in the least. Many “brutalist” institutional buildings are also highly defensible against the Mob.

    I’m not surprised to learn that the style was originated by Nazis, although I do find it rather amusing that the only places I can recall encountering it are places where left-liberals run the show.

    I hope the point that physical security is a virtue, not a vice, in a building has not been lost.

  69. A side note- Wikipedia used to have a fair amount of information about the history of racial covenants in the Village. That has disappeared.

  70. The vitriol directed at city planners in general, and joe in particular, is the result of direct experience with the first, lengthy virtual experience with the second, and perhaps partially due to the fact that I missed breakfast this morning…
    And not relevant to the discussion at hand.

  71. Joe,

    “Look, I’ll write this one more time, and you’re either going to get it, or not.”

    I’m sorry, repetitive assertions don’t convince me, so writing the same thing over and over will not help me ‘get it.’

    Tedious indeed.

    ‘Race’ and ‘of the ’60’s’ modify the word ‘riots’, yet they are not inextricable.

    Barriers are built to keep out rioters regardless of what adjectives you use to describe the rioters. Of course you are invited to prove otherwise. I won’t hold my breath.

  72. the deliberate use of architecture to brutalize

    I swear to God, I just saw a fa?ade beat up a young black man. Bad, racist architecture!

    My Little Pony looks like the Marlboro man when placed next to you, joe. You are much better suited kneeling and sniveling next to the stage of a performance of “The Vagina Monologues” in penance for the sins of the patriarchy than you are articulating a moral case.

    Furthermore, I find your arguments specious and lacking in substance.

  73. I remember the Democrat National Convention where all of those white, closed-shop-union-Democrat cops were tuning up white rioters Left and Left.

    Actually, that time it was the cops who were rioting.

  74. RC,

    No, they are not mutually exclusive – they can even be mutually reinforcing. Add in auto-centric designs with little regard for pedestrians, and the effect with be reinforced even further. At a fundamental level, urban design from 1950-1980 or so was deeply anti-human.

    “I’m not surprised to learn that the style was originated by Nazis, although I do find it rather amusing that the only places I can recall encountering it are places where left-liberals run the show.”

    Well, urban design is typically found in urban places, which tend to be Democratic. When you get to a suburban or rural setting, the anti-human design elements are much easier to make pretty.

    “I hope the point that physical security is a virtue, not a vice, in a building has not been lost.”

    I hope the point that security can interfere with an open society has not been lost, either.

  75. ‘Race’ and ‘of the ’60’s’ modify the word ‘riots’, yet they are not inextricable.

    When discussing the race riots of the 1960s, yes, they are. Read some history.

  76. “Barriers are built to keep out rioters regardless of what adjectives you use to describe the rioters. Of course you are invited to prove otherwise. I won’t hold my breath.”

    Since I haven’t written anything about race-specific barriers, I’ll let your little straw man rest to one side.

    As far as what I’ve actually written about – the intellectual and historical roots of this specific design theory – I’ve already proven my point numerous times.

    Any time you’d care to acknowledge the distinction, that would be great.

  77. I wonder how many of the commenters who have trouble making the connection between architecture, riots, and racial paranoia also have trouble making the connection between the Gun Control Act of 1968, riots, and racial paranoia.

  78. I’m sorry you’re so ignorant about architecture, Loundry. Believe it or not, designers do work to produce an effect on their viewers, and they do so without making the buildings physically interact with people.

    And I don’t give a crap out your outdated stereotypes. Uber-chest beaters like yourself usually end up getting arrested with their pants around their ankles in a men’s room anyway.

  79. “I must have missed the part where the conversation turned into a debate of the merits of urban planning/planners.” – Number6

    Really? Here I thought this thread was about urban design… Who is it that normally perpetrates “urban design?” Might it be “city planners?”

    “Perhaps you meant that we should ignore Joe because he is an urban planner. I doubt that I need to name that particular fallacy for you.” – Number6

    No, but that’s a good place to start. Another would be not to trust a city planner who is so uniformed about architectural design that he thinks “the name ‘brutalism’ comes from the effect of the architecture on the viewer’s mind and soul.”

    And not, as has already been correctly pointed out: “The term Brutalist Architecture originates from the French b?ton brut, or ‘raw concrete’, a term used by Le Corbusier to describe his choice of material. In 1954, the English architects Alison and Peter Smithson coined the term, but it gained currency when the British architectural critic Reyner Banham used it in the title of his 1954 book, ‘New Brutalism,’ to identify the emerging style.[1]”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brutalism

    In other words, Brutalism is exactly the sort of thing joe normally supports, but because of his “My Little Pony-ish” lack of understanding of both the architectural style and its historical use, he comes down against it. To be fair, he has also come out against Cabrini Greens, another city planning nightmare that had the best of intentions and similar reasoning, so at least he’s consistently against city planning projects that turn into notoriously horrible slums.

    Anyone who has read joe’s posts on the wonders of modern urban planning will recognize echoes of plenty of his urban planning statements in this:
    “Brutalism as an architectural style also was associated with a social utopian ideology, which tended to be supported by its designers, especially Alison and Peter Smithson, near the height of the style.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brutalism

    Unsurprisingly, these city planning debacles failed to become utopias:
    “The failure of positive communities to form early on in some Brutalist structures, possibly due to the larger processes of urban decay that set in after World War II (especially in the United Kingdom), led to the combined unpopularity of both the ideology and the architectural style… Combined with the socially progressive intentions behind Brutalist ‘streets in the sky’ housings such as Corbusier’s Unit?, Brutalism was promoted as a positive option for forward-moving, modern urban housing.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brutalism

  80. While I think it’s ugly architecture, with a crazy socialist utopian approach, the Brutalism architectural style did NOT come from the Nazis: “It has been suggested that the style was based subconsciously on the austere German gun turrets left littered along beaches after World War II.”

    Suggested, probably by critics, but it’s not where the architecture came from. And for the record, Albert Speer is the Nazi architect famous for NON-Brutalism type architecture: “Speer invented the theory of ‘ruin value’. According to this theory, enthusiastically supported by Hitler, all new buildings would be constructed in such a way that they would leave aesthetically pleasing ruins thousands of years in the future. Such ruins would be a testament to the greatness of the Third Reich, just as ancient Greek or Roman ruins were symbols of the greatness of their civilizations. In practise, this theory manifested itself in his marked preference for monumental stone construction, rather than the use of steel frames and ferroconcrete.”

    Neither of these architectural styles are anything I’d care to defend, but at least get the info right…

  81. None of that is remotely relevant to the thread, but boy, did you spend a lot of time insulting me.

  82. “In other words, Brutalism is exactly the sort of thing joe normally supports”

    Actually, no, you’re just assuming I would support it because, in your muddle reasoning, any given planner must support every planning initiative ever carried out.

  83. “I’m sorry you’re so ignorant about architecture, Loundry.”

    Kettle, Pot. joe, you’re a piece of work – you get basic info about architectural styles wrong and then call other people ignorant? No sense of shame whatsoever…

    “And I don’t give a crap out your outdated stereotypes. Uber-chest beaters like yourself usually end up getting arrested with their pants around their ankles in a men’s room anyway.” – joe

    Oh, the humanity. And the homosexual slurs… It’s funny when you get mad, because the mean, intolerant, non-PC joe – the real joe – reveals himself. Well, it’s funny when it’s only on a computer screen, anyway. It’s undoubtedly VERY unpleasant face-to-face.

  84. rob,

    If you must post about subject you don’t know anything about, please do a little more reading first.

    Like, for example, Speer’s monumental buildings in Berlin, or his lighting design at Nuremberg, and the aesthetic and political purposes behind his design choices.

    Gun turrets. LOL.

  85. And now, I’m done responding to you.

  86. Joe,

    This is ridiculous.

    We all know the history of what motivated the riots. Designers responded to the riots, not the race of the rioters. How do I know this? Because barriers can’t distinguish race and barriers are what they actually built.

  87. “Actually, no, you’re just assuming I would support it because, in your muddle reasoning, any given planner must support every planning initiative ever carried out.” – joe

    No, I’ve clearly pointed out that there are instances you have found distasteful or disagreeable (Cabrini Greens, in past threads, for example).

    I’m just pointing out that your city planning utopian fantasies echo the rationale behind Brutalism – you just don’t care for Brutalism because you mistakenly believed that the rationale behind the design was to hurt people’s feelings.

  88. Sorry, folks, this is what rob does sometimes.

    Guess the thred’s over.

  89. You confuse what motivated the rioters and what motivated the designers.

  90. Jesse Walker,

    Ask a NRA member about Huey Newton, Ronald Reagan, and the Mulford Act and watch the cognitive dissidence ensue.

  91. Actually, that time it was the cops who were rioting.

    “The policeman isn’t there to create disorder, the policeman is there to preserve disorder.”

    Words of a famous non-Republican, non-Right, non-Southerner. Well, perhaps as we have learned, he could be “culturally southern” no matter his location and background.

    So, who can name this politician?

  92. joe – You really don’t know anything about Brutalism versus Speers “ruin value” approach, do you? Speers buildings were intended to evoke Roman and Greek architecture – monumental, yes, but nothing like Brutalism, and used solid stone.

    Speers approach is pretty much the exact opposite in every way to Brutalism – from aesthetic rationale (monuments that would leave beautiful ruins behind) and eschewed the use of simple patterns for more ornate design intended to exalt the Reich to solid stone building materials intended to leave reminders of the Reich’s greatness even as ruins.

    Compare that with Brutalism: Concrete (not solid stone), simple repeated design elements that put the function of the building on display (like water towers) as parts of the design, and whose rationale was to create a socialist utopia living space.

    Your ignorance is really showing… Maybe that public administration degree didn’t focus on architecture enough.

  93. “Ask a NRA member about Huey Newton, Ronald Reagan, and the Mulford Act and watch the cognitive dissidence ensue.” – de stijl

    How so? I think Huey and his guys had every right to carry as long as they weren’t committing crimes, that the Mulford Act was racist gun control nonsense, and that Reagan signing Mulford into law was a travesty.

  94. Guy – I’d guess Chicago Mayor Daley… after the 1968 Democratic National Convention? Lthough maybe it was also said by someone else at some other time…

  95. “I wonder how many of the commenters who have trouble making the connection between architecture, riots, and racial paranoia also have trouble making the connection between the Gun Control Act of 1968, riots, and racial paranoia.”

    Actually, the GCA of ’68 had more to do with the assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King, and RFK.

    However, de stijl is correct about Reagan supporting gun control in California as a result of members of the Black Panthers carrying arms. That was, on its face, an obvious and blatantly racist policy.

    Much like the Sullivan Act, and nearly every other gun control law passed after the Civil War.

  96. Rob- You appear to be right about the origins of the term brutalism, although Joe’s interpretation makes a sort of intuitive sense, given how fugly the buildings are.

    So why couch that point in insults and invective? Why slip into Coulterspeak? For fuck’s sake man, most of us come here to get away from that kind of thing.

  97. rob,

    A “community action committee” showing, up with shotguns over their heads on the day of the vote, in the capitol building in Sacremento certainly did not help the vote on that bill.

    I am recalling the correct act, from around the 1960s in CA that restricted EVERYBODYS gun rights?

  98. rob, correct.

    However, de stijl is correct about Reagan supporting gun control in California as a result of members of the Black Panthers carrying arms. That was, on its face, an obvious and blatantly racist policy.

    See comment about the “community action committee”, that group was the Black Panthers that I was speaking of and I do not recall that law restricting guns by race. This is the first I ever heard of that.

  99. No, it didn’t restrict the bearing of arms by race, nor did many of the Southern or Midwestern Jim Crow-era gun control laws.

    However, the law passed in California was a direct result of a hew and cry raised by people who were scared of Black Panthers who were publicly and openly carrying arms.

    I’m not aware of any other groups who were practicing open carry in California at the time, so it can be pretty well assumed that the law was aimed squarely at those who were. ie, members of the Black Panther organization.

  100. The rioters in Detroit were, in fact, black. The existence of rioters in other cities who were not black does not really say anything relevant.

    The point is not “let’s keep out black rioters and let white rioters in” the point is “black people start riots, let’s keep out black people”. “Black people” could also be replaced with “residents of the city of Detroit”

  101. “See comment about the “community action committee”, that group was the Black Panthers that I was speaking of and I do not recall that law restricting guns by race.”

    FWIW, Guy, you know this is a silly argument. Blatantly writing a law restricting a right by race would be a violation of the 14th amendment’s equal protection requirement, and would therefore render the law unconstitutional.

  102. Also, fwiw, I don’t really have a dog in the argument about architecture and who it’s meant to keep out, but joe does make some points that are sensible.

  103. “Rob- You appear to be right about the origins of the term brutalism, although Joe’s interpretation makes a sort of intuitive sense, given how fugly the buildings are.” – Number6

    Only if you are completely unaware of the two styles until this thread began. (Actually, that sort of ignorance would normally make me wonder if the writer had actually worked in the field they claim expertise in, but ignorance is not really a barrier to working as a city planner, in my experience).

    Actually, Speer’s buildings were very “classical” and Brutalism very “modern.” (Speer’s buildings wouldn’t look too out of place in Washington, D.C., really.) The fact that they were both spawned by misguided at best (psychotic and harmful at worst) utopian fantasies – much like the overwhelming majority of city planning – is a superficial link. But stylistically they are totally dissimilar and the utopian motivations they were based upon were actually so completely different as to be incompatible (even if socialist is part of “National Socialist”).

    “So why couch that point in insults and invective?” – Number6

    When my insults slip into homophobic rage at people who disagree with me, like joe’s post at 11:23, I’ll take the lecture you’re trying to hand me.

    “Why slip into Coulterspeak? … most of us come here to get away from that kind of thing.” – Number6

    The fact that I find most city planners in general, and joe’s approach in particular, to be despicable and based on thoroughly discredited authoritiarian and socialist premises, is hardly “Coulter-speak.” I haven’t used a single profanity, nor have I insulted anyone’s sexuality in terms that are also derogatory towards homosexuals. So how, exactly, have I said anything “Coulter-esque”?

    In fact, which statement of mine has got you so upset? I re-read my posts and I just don’t see it…

  104. “Also, fwiw, I don’t really have a dog in the argument about architecture and who it’s meant to keep out, but joe does make some points that are sensible.” – mediageek

    Care to mention any specifically?

    Well, other than the fact that big concrete pill-boxes make ugly and foreboding architecture? That one I’ll gladly grant him.

    But the funny thing is that joe seems to be arguing that Brutalist architecture’s intent was to intimidate people by mean right-wing gov’t types, when it’s clear to anyone with even cursory knowledge of architecture that the buildings were intended to help bring about a socialist utopia. But like all centralized city planning debacles it was a uniformly less-than stunning success:

    “Combined with the socially progressive intentions behind Brutalist ‘streets in the sky’ housings such as Corbusier’s Unit?, Brutalism was promoted as a positive option for forward-moving, modern urban housing. In practice, however, many of the buildings built in this style lacked many of the community-serving features of Corbusier’s vision, and instead, developed into claustrophobic, crime-ridden tenements. Robin Hood Gardens is a particularly notorious example. Some such buildings took decades to develop into positive communities. The rough coolness of concrete lost its appeal under a damp and gray northern sky, and its fortress-like material touted as vandal-proof soon proved vulnerable to spray-can graffiti.”

  105. rob,

    Read Speer’s autobiograrphy. It really would do you good. He’s quite clear about the design theory behind his Air Ministry, his Reichchancellory, and the lights at the Nuremberg Rally. Nice ruins was part of it, but the effect on the individual – the overwhelming power, the loss of the self in the crowd, the glorification of the state/nation were even more important.

  106. “Read Speer’s autobiograrphy. It really would do you good. He’s quite clear about the design theory behind his Air Ministry, his Reichchancellory, and the lights at the Nuremberg Rally. Nice ruins was part of it, but the effect on the individual – the overwhelming power, the loss of the self in the crowd, the glorification of the state/nation were even more important.” – joe

    None of which have anything to do with the Brutalist style of architecture being discussed here…

  107. … in fact, Brutalism has exactly the opposite motivation and is intended to have exactly the opposite effect on people.

    Of course, Brutalism is ugly and it has a very similiar effect as Speer was trying to achieve, but oddly enough both styles of architecture seem to have the exact opposite effect of what their designers intended.

    Classical-influenced architecture tends to make people appreciate the lasting beauty that human hands and minds can create rather than Speer’s warped intent.

    Brutalism intended to usher in a socialist utopia where people lived in happy little pods, and where form and utility were lauded to the point that they were considered beautiful enough to be used as decorative “design elements.” The effect was oppressive and did anything but usher in a utopia for its residents.

  108. Number 6,

    rob couches his statements in obnoxious language because he’s a troll seeking to make trouble, rather than someone arguing in good faith to get at the truth.

    Actually, I didn’t write that Speer’s work was brutalist. Let’s go to the tape:

    “Its (brutalism’s) antecedents are not in defensive towers of the Middle Ages, but the mega-scale architecture of Albert Speer.”

    Let’s give rob the benefit of the doubt, and assume that rather than being a disruptive troll, he simply doesn’t understand the definitin of the term “antecedent.”

    Sure, Speer incorporated classical elements and materials that were popular in the pre-modernist milieu. However, what he did that was new, that was specifically “Speer-ish” was to incorporate the mega-lithic designs, gigantic spaces, and tight controls on access that create the sense of powerless, or awe before power, and of losing one’s self in a crowd that define brutalism. Later brutalists knocked off the old-fashioned decoration that the Nazis used to connect their building to history and mythology, preferring a sleek moderninsm that connected their building to a futurist utopianism, but left in the place essential elements that defined what was most unique and innnovative about Speer’s work.

    Descendants drawing on cultural antecendents will tend to do that.

  109. “But the funny thing is that joe seems to be arguing that Brutalist architecture’s intent was to intimidate people by mean right-wing gov’t types”

    Maybe if you didn’t try to read minds, you wouldn’t get it so wrong. Maybe if you weren’t such a partisan, you wouldn’t fall into this trap so much.

  110. “Care to mention any specifically?”

    I was referring to joe’s statement that these designs, in some cases, were meant to keep out people most likely to riot, and that there’s an undercurrent of racism there.

  111. Ah, apparently, to rob, socialist utopians like brutalists weren’t interested in using architecture to inspire awe of the state, or to make people lose their individual identity in a crowd, or to encourage identification of the self as a subject of the power behind the megalithic buildings.

  112. ‘Brutalism intended to usher in a socialist utopia where people lived in happy little pods, and where form and utility were lauded to the point that they were considered beautiful enough to be used as decorative “design elements.”‘

    Even granting the point I already discussed about decoration, the “happy little pods” comment is irrelevant. First of all, those happy little pods, according Le Corbusier and other socialist architects, were to be found in gigantic buildings, which were designed to disguise the presence of differentiated individual homes and present a uniform, gigantic face to the public. Think of a public housing tower, here or in Moscow. Second, brutalism, like this thread, is about the design of the public, exterior faces of buildings and the spaces they inhabit.

  113. mediageek,

    “… there’s an undercurrent of racism there.”

    Allegedly. Race was a motivation for the riots, I’ll grant, but it has yet to be shown how it was a motivation for the design.

  114. Finally, the French derivation, from “raw concrete,” provided the initial impetus for the term, but it most certainly didn’t end there. There are reasons why the term was translated into English as a cousin of “brutal” and not “concrete.”

    Brutalism didn’t end with the use of raw concrete – heck, it didn’t even begin there. Raw concrete was used as a design element to further the aesthetic/ideological purposes of the builders. A lot money went into designing brutalist buildings, and a lot of that hum-drum practicality was as studied and fussed-over as a hair-sprayed “uncombed” look on a college girl in a bar.

  115. “Allegedly. Race was a motivation for the riots, I’ll grant, but it has yet to be shown how it was a motivation for the design.”

    I suppose. Of course, doesn’t U. Chicago have a lot of buildings designed to mess with troublemakers? Buildings with uneven stairs and such?

  116. I’m sorry you’re so ignorant about architecture, Loundry. Believe it or not, designers do work to produce an effect on their viewers, and they do so without making the buildings physically interact with people.

    How did you get from that elemantary statement of fact to “brutalize”? Next, you’re going to tell me that a rotunda “exploited” the “working class”.

    And I don’t give a crap out your outdated stereotypes. Uber-chest beaters like yourself usually end up getting arrested with their pants around their ankles in a men’s room anyway.

    Notice how quickly the “progressive” resorts to anti-gay slurs when his courage and strength are questioned. It’s a very common (not to mention weak) “progressive” defense tactic.

    I’m gay through-and-through, you frail shell of a man. You know as well as I do that the “stereotypes” you pretend to deplore are always based in observations, so please explain to me why does “progressive” have to mean “sad, pathetic little wimp of a loser”?

  117. Can we not agree that the Monadnock Building is an architectural masterpiece?

    Tallest building with load-bearing walls in the world!

  118. Here’s a theory:

    The brain problem that leads rob to look over his posts on this thread and conclude that it is unwarranted for Number 6 to accuse him of being obnoxious and hostile…

    is the same brain problem that leads him to look at brutalist architecture and completely miss the Speer-ish will to dominate the individual and glorify the builders.

    Both demonstrate an almost sociopathic inability to comprehend the effect of cultural expression on other people.

  119. mediageek,

    Maybe it does. ‘Troublemakers’ doesn’t equal ‘ethnic minority’, though.

  120. Hr Crane:

    Pic 1

    nuther one

    Media – I have heard that, too. The Univ of Illinois at Chicago (Circle Campus) certainly took the concrete (small windows) and ugly design to new levels:

    Circle Campus (taken from University Hall, what we called “the Death Star”. The Behaviorial Sciences Bldg we dubbed “the Skinner Box”, due to the nearly impossibility of finding your way around)
    hier

  121. Makes sense, Loundry.

    People who put on tough-guy poses like yours usually are compensating for some perceived lack of manhood.

    You have my sympathy, but you still argue like a thug, and I’m going to call that out whenever I see it.

  122. mediageek,

    So, the law passed in the 1930s that got all of this rolling was an anti-white law because it was white guys using machine guns to rob banks in the midwest?

    As were other laws passed when white guys assasinated or murdered public figures?

  123. whisper to joe –

    You need more “quotes” in your “reply”. The “Loundry” cannot possibly “understand” what you’re saying “without” them.

    Also, please to make finger quote gesture in the air as you’re typing!

    Hr Dienstag will be sure to blog about it then.

  124. what’s “dirty” loundry’s deal, VM?

    i just popped an alka-seltzer tablet into a glass of water and man, these bubbles are fucking deafening!

  125. Wrong again, joe. Speer’s work was simply not the sort of thing Brutalists would draw upon. It’s like claiming that socialists would draw upon free market ideals, or that dictators would encourage personal liberty. Nice reach, but that just doesn’t fly.

    And if I’m the sort of guy who is only trying to bait people – because I’m what lots of peopole call you, a troll – what does that make you, with your derogatory comments about homosexuals and your claims that anyone who doesn’t care for you or your approach to the universe is is “lame and hysterical?”

    “the same brain problem that leads him to look at brutalist architecture and completely miss the Speer-ish will to dominate the individual and glorify the builders.”

    AND

    “First of all, those happy little pods, according Le Corbusier and other socialist architects, were to be found in gigantic buildings, which were designed to disguise the presence of differentiated individual homes and present a uniform, gigantic face to the public.”

    You honestly can’t see that these two tings are diametrically opposed, but equally bad things, can you? I guess the blinders you wear aren’t limited to partisan issues, after all.

    And joe, it’s bad form to call someone else a thug when you just finished calling him names by using an insult that is derogatory towards homosexuals. (Though he deserved a retaliatory insult because of how far he took his insult.) For a guy who claims to be progressive, you sure spend a lot of time talking tough and calling other people things that seem to show you equate accusations of being a homosexuals as witty insults. They’re not witty insults, they’re just crass and reveal the person using them to be morally reprehensible.

  126. Senior Crane:

    he has “issues” with “progressives” and tends to type “violently” and “angrily” when “confronted”.

  127. “You honestly can’t see that these two tings are diametrically opposed, but equally bad things, can you?”

    No, I don’t see why “the Speer-ish will to dominate the individual and glorify the builders” is different from “designed to disguise the presence of differentiated individual homes and present a uniform, gigantic face to the public.” They look very much like the same thing to me – the use of mass and scope to make the individual feel small and vulnerable, except as part of an undifferentiated mass. I can’t believe I’m saying this but, please, expand on that idea. I’ve granted the “classical decoration” bit, but I don’t see what you’re on about here.

    Also, fyi, I really don’t give a darn what you think about me and beliefs. You never manage to describe them accurately enough for your comments to even serve as an interesting bit of criticism.

    So please, stick to the relevant, substantive topic: what is it about the two statements you quoted that you consider inconsistent?

  128. Is it that “the builders” glorified in Speer’s work were a fascist elite/Nazi state (same thing in their view), while “the builders” glorified in socialist brutalism were the proletariat/state (same thing in their view)?

    Because while that is certainly a difference, it isn’t one that finds expression in the architecture; they both just sort of glorify the mighty whatever, while assuming that the public understand what the mighty whatever is supposed to be.

  129. “I’m gay through-and-through, you frail shell of a man. You know as well as I do that the “stereotypes” you pretend to deplore are always based in observations, so please explain to me why does “progressive” have to mean “sad, pathetic little wimp of a loser”?”

    Wow, being more manly than me certainly is important to you.

  130. VM,

    The Behavioral Sciences buildings was “the Skinner Box?” That’s insanely great.

    Did you have to repeatedly peck at a button to get the doors to open? If they failed to open did students cling listlessly to metal-frame monkey mothers?

  131. I used to look at the 70s-ish building on the UMass campus, and how they were designed to allow a handful of guards to control the movements of a great mass of people, and wonder what Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold could have done with such a space.

    One way in, one way out.

  132. de stijl – that’s what we called it, at any rate. But we were a bunch of silly econ grad students, so anything for a chuckle 🙂

    As for clinging to metal frame monkey mothers, I’ll neither confirm nor deny practice yiffing.

  133. “hier”

    When I look at that building, I see a cartoonish rendering of Albert Einstein wearing lab goggles.

    Anyone else?

  134. “So, the law passed in the 1930s that got all of this rolling was an anti-white law because it was white guys using machine guns to rob banks in the midwest?”

    Don’t be preposterous. According to this article in Collier’s Thompson SMG’s and other full-auto weaponry had to be outlawed not only because white people were robbing banks, but because blacks might get ahold of them, too.

    “As were other laws passed when white guys assasinated or murdered public figures?”

    That said, no, just because one (or most, for that matter) gun control law is rooted in racism doesn’t mean they’re all rooted in racism. But my reading of the history of gun control shows that most such laws are designed to make access to weapons difficult for racial minorities or those of limited means.

  135. Aw, come on, rob! You were THAT CLOSE to having an intelligent, civil discussion of ideas.

    You can do it, rob. I’ve got faith. You can explain a position with facts and evidence.

    It’s not like this is a tough subject. Like subtraction.

  136. mediageek,

    But with racism so prevalent in the 20s, we’ve got a chicken-egg problem. Was racism really the motivation for the law, or was “Worry about the Negroes” being deployed like “Think of the children” is used today?

  137. Joe, I would assume it’s a little from column A, and a little from Column B.

    Basically the language used to enact the NFA of ’34 (along with a lot of other gun laws) was, in many respects, similar to the sorts of lurid bigotry used by Harry Anslinger in his drive to get pot outlawed.

  138. joe,

    You were being so nice, so conciliatory.

    And then out comes the “Like subtraction” like a stilleto.

    In and out quick; so fast he doesn’t even know he’s been stuck until he notices the blood.

  139. My theory: he went back to Wikipedia to look up more information he thought he could use aginst me, learned I was right, and won’t be commenting any more on the subject.

  140. People who put on tough-guy poses like yours usually are compensating for some perceived lack of manhood.

    All we have is words on a message board, so whether or not what I’m doing is a “pose” is anyone’s guess. Not that it would keep you from second guessing my “manhood”, which is laughable coming from someone who has to resort to gay-bashing when he feels like he’s being criticized.

    You have my sympathy, but you still argue like a thug, and I’m going to call that out whenever I see it.

    You lack my sympathy, and you still argue like a weak, cowardly, and compliant “progressive”, and, likewise, I’m going to call that out whenever I see it. It doesn’t go unnoticed that you can’t deny your own cowardice and weakness or the fact that cowardice and weakness are “progressive” values; instead, you default to gay-bashing slurs when someone points this out. You are hypocritical to the core, a true shit-filled disgrace of human being.

    Furthermore, I must submit that my bad attitude comes from years of being brutalized by corinthian columns. They were homophobic pieces of architecture.

  141. Is it possible the buildings are designed in ways that are more energy efficient? Is long term maintenance cheaper for lots of brick and very little windows? Do the build college buildings with little windows so the drunken morons cant fall out of them? and can we please please please do something about those heterophobic highway tunnels……sheesh

  142. Okay, thanks for the correction on my double-plus-bad incorrect thoughts.

    So, what you are telling me, or what I need to believe, is that if “white” (or whiteish) people walked into the chambers of Sacramento with shotguns over their heads, while the legeslature was debating a gun restriction bill, the bill would have failed and the only reason that bill passed was because black people were brandishing guns rather than any other group?

  143. “My theory: he went back to Wikipedia to look up more information he thought he could use aginst me, learned I was right, and won’t be commenting any more on the subject.” – joe

    Actually, I went to a meeting and then I went home. Contrary to what you might think, I actually have a life and a job.

    “No, I don’t see why ‘the Speer-ish will to dominate the individual and glorify the builders’ is different from ‘designed to disguise the presence of differentiated individual homes and present a uniform, gigantic face to the public.’ They look very much like the same thing to me – the use of mass and scope to make the individual feel small and vulnerable, except as part of an undifferentiated mass. I can’t believe I’m saying this but, please, expand on that idea. I’ve granted the ‘classical decoration’ bit, but I don’t see what you’re on about here.” – joe

    You can make the same claim you’re making about nearly ALL architecture styles – it doesn’t change the fact that nothing was similar between Speers & Brutalism (style, building materials, motivation, etc.). What you’re doing now is basically saying “apples and oranges are the same fruit.” Of course they are, just like Speers and Brutalism are both styles of architecture and both have aspects of monumentalism in them. It doesn’t change the fact that they have very little in common – which is why the apples & oranges example is used to point out that something is essentially non-comparable.

    Of course you can make that claim because very few architectural styles are designed to make people feel large and powerful next to a big building.

    The statement that it is “the use of mass and scope to make the individual feel small and vulnerable, except as part of an undifferentiated mass” is as easily applied to most architecture throughout history as it is to Speers and Brutalism.

    You can make exactly the same claim for Ancient Egyptian pyramid-building architecture. (Frankly, I think it’s very odd that in this ONE thread you are eager to link Nazis and socialists, even though most of what you advocate for on these threads is authoritarian neo-socialist in approach.)

    All of the following architectural styles qualify as creating the feelings you discuss: Neothlithic (Stonehenge, etc) Ancient Egyptian (Pyramids), Gothic (cathedrals), Greek & Roman, Baroque (more cathedrals), Tudor, Elizabethan, etc. etc. etc.

    Pretty much all the way up into the early 19th century, when architecture started getting weirder and weirder and people started trying to create the anti-thesis of overwhelmingly large, monumental style buildings.

    “So please, stick to the relevant, substantive topic: what is it about the two statements you quoted that you consider inconsistent?” – joe

    The motivation for the two styles of architecture are diametrically opposed, and anyone who claims that Brutalism and Speers Nazi designs come from the same political motivation is either ignorant, confused, or deliberately being obtuse.

    Speers work comes from the fascist top-down “obey or the gov’t will destroy you because the gov’t and glorifying the gov’t is far more important than any individual entity” approach, the other is from the bottom-up “all people must be made equal (and equally miserable!), so the gov’t must tell you how to live because it knows what’s best for you (it’s for the WORKER/CHILDREN/PEOPLE)” socialist approach.

    Totally different motivations, though they have equally unpleasant authoritarian outcomes, and result in a totally different aesthetic.

    “Also, fyi, I really don’t give a darn what you think about me and beliefs. You never manage to describe them accurately enough for your comments to even serve as an interesting bit of criticism.” – joe

    Yeah, I know how much you hate it when people have your number. When they point out your rhetorical dirty tricks, your blatant partisanship to the detriment of rational discourse, your infatuation with gov’t power, the stereotypical name-calling that reveals more about you than you intend it to… Actually, I’d say that I’ve been around you on these boards long enough to describe your antics pretty well.

  144. “which is laughable coming from someone who has to resort to gay-bashing when he feels like he’s being criticized.”

    I didn’t gay-bash; I questioned you mahood and accused of compensating for your own insecurities. And I turned out to be right.

  145. “You can make the same claim you’re making about nearly ALL architecture styles”

    That’s not true. New Urbanism and just about every vernacular house style – colonial, craftsman, Victorian, ranch/southwestern – work for exactly the opposite effect, a humante, intimate coziness. Even other public styles which do strive for monumentality – Federalist, Gothic – work to address the individual in a much different manner. They don’t break down; they build up.

    Your architectural theory, like your commenting voice, seems to conflate impressiveness with abuse. You might want to work on that.

    “You can make exactly the same claim for Ancient Egyptian pyramid-building architecture.” Maybe, if we limit ourselves to the pyramids themselves. If we take temples and palaces into account, not so much – they worked to interact with the viewer on much more individual level, like a church.

    “Frankly, I think it’s very odd that in this ONE thread you are eager to link Nazis and socialists…” I’ve never questioned that the two effected similar totalitarianism, just the philosophical roots of that totalitarianism. Which is just identical to my point about these two schools of architecture – they eached produced an alienating, intimidating, individual-effacing effect, but arrived there from very different places.

    “The motivation for the two styles of architecture are diametrically opposed, and anyone who claims that Brutalism and Speers Nazi designs come from the same political motivation is either ignorant, confused, or deliberately being obtuse.” Yes, I think that about people who argue that leftist totalitarianism and rightist totalitarianism come from the same place, simply because they arrive at the same place. Unfortunately for you, I’m arguing exactly the opposite position than you ascribe to me. Maybe you should make more of an effort to read what I actually write, rather than assigning me the positions you’d prefer to argue against. Again.

    P.S. You should really choose a less unfortunate phrase than “have your number” there, robby-boy. Numbers really aren’t your thing.

    How’s that definition of the word “majority” coming? And how about those subtraction lessons?

    Tee hee.

  146. “I didn’t gay-bash; I questioned you mahood and accused of compensating for your own insecurities.” – joe

    How that contributes to rational discussion is beyond me…

    That aside, here are a few observations on your go-round with Loundry (not many that I haven’t made these observations before, some of them in this very thread). But maybe numbering them sequentially will help:

    1.) You’ve made quite a run at repeatedly trying to defend comments that most people would consider indefensible – the fact that you think they are defensible is nonsensical, and appears to be based on the idea that because you lean left you should be able to make such comments with immunity.

    2.) Here’s a news flash: your political leanings don’t give you immunity from being called out when you are offensive and have made homophobic/misogynistic/racist comments.

    3.) Like I said before, it’s bad form to call someone else a thug (or question their manhood, etc) when you just finished calling him names by using an insult that is derogatory towards homosexuals.

    4.) I’m not the only one who finds it weirdly confusing – and more than a little bit sad – that a guy who claims to be progressive and fair-minded to all people spends a lot of time talking tough and calling other people things that seem to show he equates accusations of being a homosexual with witty insults.

    5.) Last reality check: They’re not witty insults, they’re just crass and reveal the person using them to be morally reprehensible.

    6.) Suggestion: Why not just stop making those comments and opening yourself up to further accusations?

  147. “New Urbanism and just about every vernacular house style – colonial, craftsman, Victorian, ranch/southwestern – work for exactly the opposite effect, a humante, intimate coziness. ” – joe

    Learn to read what I wrote: “Pretty much all the way up into the early 19th century, when architecture started getting weirder and weirder and people started trying to create the anti-thesis of overwhelmingly large, monumental style buildings.”

    Doesn’t change that nothing about the two styles is similar: style, materials, approach, inspiration – none of it.

    “Even other public styles which do strive for monumentality – Federalist, Gothic – work to address the individual in a much different manner. They don’t break down; they build up.” – joe

    Federalist builds up? It’s not intended to emphasize the importance of the state? It’s not descended from Georgian architecture, so named because of King George?

    Gothic? It’s not intended to emphasize that failure to submit to the Church results in being cast into Hell?

    Even your examples are weak…

    “Your architectural theory, like your commenting voice, seems to conflate impressiveness with abuse. You might want to work on that.”

    Oh, the pot speaks to the kettle! Here’s something for you to work on: facts are facts. Before you start getting everything about something wrong, maybe you should do some research.

    “Maybe, if we limit ourselves to the pyramids themselves. If we take temples and palaces into account, not so much – they worked to interact with the viewer on much more individual level, like a church.” – joe

    And you think that churches aren’t intended to display the glory and power of God, an even more powerful entity than gov’t? What universe do you live in? Obviously one in which inanimate objects like BUILDINGS are capable of oppressing PEOPLE, and in which any architectural nod to DEFENSIVE features is mistaken for being OFFENSIVE to the human soul.

    “I’ve never questioned that the two effected similar totalitarianism, just the philosophical roots of that totalitarianism.” -joe

    Interesting that you can see that the two are both bad, and that they stem from different roots, but you can’t see that what you often argue for is authoritarian in nature.

    “Which is just identical to my point about these two schools of architecture – they eached produced an alienating, intimidating, individual-effacing effect, but arrived there from very different places.” – joe

    No argument about what they’ve produced, but I think it’s clear that connections between the two – or the idea that one influenced the other – are specious. That they both sucked is obvious, that they both came from bad ideology is obvious. But that doesn’t mean A influenced or lead to B. In the case of these two styles, they have some disturbing things in common, but the very core of their inspirations are polar opposites.

    “Yes, I think that about people who argue that leftist totalitarianism and rightist totalitarianism come from the same place, simply because they arrive at the same place.” – joe
    When the result is the same, does it really matter where they came from?

    “Unfortunately for you, I’m arguing exactly the opposite position than you ascribe to me. Maybe you should make more of an effort to read what I actually write, rather than assigning me the positions you’d prefer to argue against.” – joe

    In other words, you agree with me. Nice!

  148. Federalism: “The style reflected the nationalist aspirations of the time. Its successor was the Greek Revival style.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_architecture

    Move along you lookie-loos, nothing monumental to see here…

  149. rob,

    In case you haven’t noticed, you are the only one who seems to find me homophobic, either online, or in person. At the same time, you never, ever, find anyone else’s homophobia worth commenting on, no matter how blatant. That’s why I don’t give a crap about your opinion on the subject. Keep writing about it if it makes you feel good, just don’t excpect me to give a crap.

  150. joe,

    Read back through this thread. Read back through previous threads – I wasn’t even the first person to call you on it. I can understand that you fail to see it, or that you prefer not to see it. But that doesn’t change the fact that you’ve made those sorts of comments.

    “At the same time, you never, ever, find anyone else’s homophobia worth commenting on, no matter how blatant.” – joe

    Poor joe – you’re the only one who ever gets caught.

    As for other people’s homophobia, at least they’re not hypocrites. Despicable, intolerant, morally reprehensible people, but not hypocritical. Besides, why waste effort on someone who doesn’t even pretend to not be a homophobe/misogynist/racist. You can’t shame someone out of a behavior if they have no shame.

    At least with you I hold out the hope that someday you’ll put your comments where you claim your sentiments lie.

  151. The colonial style dates back to the 17th century. Is this a math thing again?

    “Doesn’t change that nothing about the two styles is similar: style, materials, approach, inspiration – none of it.” No, the approach and inspiration are quite similar, as I’ve chronicled at some length by now, so I won’t repeat myself just to refute your naked assertion.

    “Federalist builds up?” Yes. Ever been to the Lincoln of Jefferson Memorials? Humane, welcoming…just the opposite of Brutalist and Nazi architecture. I”t’s not intended to emphasize the importance of the state?”k Sure it is, just not through tearing down the dignity of the individual.

    Nice dodge with pretending that all monumentalism is the same. Drawing attention to power and glory can be done in a lot of ways, not all of which efface the human being or strive to produce alienation. Once again, the human factor just doesn’t penetrate your skull, while I put it at the center of my observations. I’d have to say that my approach here would seem to be superior, since the effect of the architecture and place-making on the humans who work there was central to the thinking of Nazi and Brutalist architects.

    “Gothic? It’s not intended to emphasize that failure to submit to the Church results in being cast into Hell?” No, not usually. It’s more about transcendant glory. That’s why it’s designed to draw the eye up, towards heaven. Very tellling mistake, rob. Religious issues much?

    Nice dodge with pretending that all monumentalism is the same. Drawing attention to power and glory can be done in a lot of ways, not all of which efface the human being or strive to produce alienation. Once again, the human factor just doesn’t penetrate your skull, while I put it at the center of my observations. I’d have to say that my approach here would seem to be superior, since the effect of the architecture and place-making on the humans who work there was central to the thinking of Nazi and Brutalist architects.

  152. I don’t care about what you hope for. I don’t care about your feelings. The only time you are remotely interesting is when you actually stick your neck out far enough to discuss facts.

  153. You’re focused on monumentality and the glorification of the state as the defining characteristics of the two styles, but that’s a mistake.

    What binds Brutalist and Nazi architecture most distinctly is their efforts to alienate and break down the viewer, to make him part of a crowd. You can find elements of this urge in other places, but almost always combined with humanizing elements that relate to the individual on a humane, individual scale. These softening elements are notably absent in both Nazi and Brutalist architecture – their elimination, and the dominance of the alienating/collectivizing themes, are what sets Brutalist and Nazi architecture apart from other forms.

  154. “No, the approach and inspiration are quite similar, as I’ve chronicled at some length by now, so I won’t repeat myself just to refute your naked assertion.” – joe

    Look at a Speers building. Look at a Brutalism building. Nothing alike, even superficially. The reality is that you’re completely incapable of admitting that you’re wrong, even when it has been shown repeatedly that you are wrong from everything about how Brutalism got its name to whether it derives from Nazi architecture.

    Here’s your homework assignment: Compare and contrast Speer’s Nazi architecture with that of Brutalism. What, if any, design elements do they have in common? What, if any, building materials or construction techniques do they have in common?

    “It’s more about transcendant glory. That’s why it’s designed to draw the eye up, towards heaven. Very tellling mistake, rob. Religious issues much?” – joe

    Uh, not really: “The Gothic cathedral was supposed to be a microcosm representing the world, and each architectural concept, mainly the loftiness and huge dimensions of the structure, were intended to pass a theological message: the great glory of God versus the smallness and insignificance of the mortal being.”

    You should know more about this subject, as a city planner. Or at least as a guy who claims to be an expert on architecture.

    The Lincoln & Jefferson Memorials aren’t even Federalist–style architecture, they’re neo-Classical. Sheesh. How can you actually not know any of this?

  155. “So, what you are telling me, or what I need to believe, is that if “white” (or whiteish) people walked into the chambers of Sacramento with shotguns over their heads, while the legeslature was debating a gun restriction bill, the bill would have failed and the only reason that bill passed was because black people were brandishing guns rather than any other group?”

    Guy, my understanding of the situation was that the legislation was proposed as a result of black people openly carrying (not brandishing) firearms at rallies and such.

    FWIW, Colorado Springs outlawed the open carrying of firearms in the city council a couple of years ago because there was a guy who openly carried a SxS and attended the meetings.

    He was white, but so was the majority of the city council.

  156. “I don’t care about what you hope for. I don’t care about your feelings. The only time you are remotely interesting is when you actually stick your neck out far enough to discuss facts.” – joe

    Would you like some cheese with your whine?

    “You’re focused on monumentality and the glorification of the state as the defining characteristics of the two styles, but that’s a mistake.” – joe

    In your expert opinion as a guy who doesn’t know the difference between neo-Classical and Federalist architecture, was wrong about where Brutalism’s name is derived, or from the guy who thinks Gothic architecture is NOT about “efforts to alienate and break down the viewer, to make him part of a crowd”? Please, just stop embarassing yourself.

    “What binds Brutalist and Nazi architecture most distinctly is their efforts to alienate and break down the viewer, to make him part of a crowd.” – joe

    Similar to most monumental-style architecture.

    “You can find elements of this urge in other places, but almost always combined with humanizing elements that relate to the individual on a humane, individual scale.” – joe

    Not so much, as seen by my previous posts, making the individual seem small is often the effect – if not the intent – of grat big buildings.

    “These softening elements are notably absent in both Nazi and Brutalist architecture – their elimination, and the dominance of the alienating/collectivizing themes, are what sets Brutalist and Nazi architecture apart from other forms.” – joe

    As opposed to the list I’ve already given you above? You really are willing to go the extra mile to try and rationalize your position. Shifting around doesn’t change the fact that you have been shown to be repeatedly, demonstrably wrong on basic architectural facts.

    I salute your pereserverance in the face of reality, joe, and hence I honorarily award you the “Order of King Canute, For Failure To Push Back The Tide.”

  157. “Nothing alike, even superficially.” I disagree. They both use massing, space, and blank walls in similar manners, to produce the same effect on the pedestrian. In an elevation view, where the entirely of the building is visible and in scale in a manner that no person would ever experience the finished building, sure, your eye will be drawn to the greater detailing on the Speer building, but the designers of each had much more important goals than how the buildings would look in elevatin view. The central, defining characteristic of both sets is the impression they were intended to create on the person walking up to, or into, or by the buildings. On this level, that of the role the buildings play in the minds of the public, the intent was quite similar, the effect was quite similar, and the design theory was quite similar. Given that both schools were primarily concerned with the political/social significance of their buildings, it seems reasonable to put these considerations up front in any analysis.

    “What, if any, design elements do they have in common?” I don’t feel like repeating myself again.

    “What, if any, building materials or construction techniques do they have in common?” Few; this is not where their similarities lie.

    “The Gothic cathedral was supposed to be a microcosm representing the world, and each architectural concept, mainly the loftiness and huge dimensions of the structure, were intended to pass a theological message: the great glory of God versus the smallness and insignificance of the mortal being.”

    You’re still missing the point, if you think this refutes what I’ve been saying; it’s the alienation effect that defines Nazi and Brutalist architecture. The human being, in Christian thought and architecture, was smaller and less than God, but still made in the image of God, and therefore important in his own right. This is why Gothic churches contain elements of gigantism and humane touches, while the latter are utterly missing from Nazi and Brutalist architecture – not just missing, deliberately effaced, as a central theme in the design scheme.

    Also, Federalism is usually considered a variety of or relative of neo-classical when discussing architecture. If you care to be pedantic, you can harp on the distinctions, and I expect you will, but don’t expect a dialogue. Your tangents are already far enough off point as it is.

  158. The fact that you have been shown to be repeatedly, demonstrably wrong on basic architectural facts is really not even the point here.

    The point is not even that you apparently don’t have the background to discuss architecture sensibly – telling for a self-proclaimed “expert city planner.”

    The point is that being wrong about basic architectural styles and concepts reveals that the nonsensical political points you’ve tried to make (using Brutalist architecture to demonstrate those points) are based on false ideas about Brutalism specifically, and about architecture in general.

    To put it in into a structural engineering analogy: You didn’t build the foundation correctly, and everything (the political commentary) you tried to build on that foundation just fell apart.

  159. “Not so much, as seen by my previous posts, making the individual seem small is often the effect – if not the intent – of grat big buildings.”

    This is the important part – yes, very much so. The humanization of the gigantic was usually included in building architecture that strove for the monumental. (Not monuments themselves, but habitable buildings.) Previous monumental architectural schools recognized the need to balance these elements, in order to avoid the alienation of the individual, while Brutalism and Nazi architecture deliberately courted these effects as the defining element of their design theory.

  160. You can cut and paste all the data you want, rob.

    You still haven’t even attempted an answer to my central thesis here, and you’ve had plenty of time to do so. I just don’t think you’re capable of addressing architecture in terms of its impact on and use by human beings. You’d rather talk about it as a combination of art history and engineering.

    Last chance, or I’m declaring victory.

  161. “Also, Federalism is usually considered a variety of or relative of neo-classical when discussing architecture. If you care to be pedantic, you can harp on the distinctions, and I expect you will, but don’t expect a dialogue. Your tangents are already far enough off point as it is.” – joe

    There’s a big difference between Federalism and Neo-Classical, though certainly they have design elements in common. But you’re right, it would be pedantic to point out why they are different architectural styles…. Sheesh.

    “while Brutalism and Nazi architecture deliberately courted these effects as the defining element of their design theory.”

    The one thing the two DO have in common, other than being architectural styles (like apples and oranges are both fruit). But one point of commonality does not make them ideologically related. That would be like claiming that arresting any criminal is the same as arresting the criminal who specifically robbed you. They are both criminals, but they’re hardly the same.

  162. ‘The point is not even that you apparently don’t have the background to discuss architecture sensibly – telling for a self-proclaimed “expert city planner.”‘

    Apparently, you don’t know the difference between the two fields. City planning is concerned with architecture as it relates to the effect of the buildings and designs of the people in the city. Not as art history, not as engineering, not as building trades.

    Which is why I put forward a theory about the impact of the buildings on the public – the one you have been utterly unwilling to address, except to make factually incorrect statements about previous architecture that leaves out the area of thought which you aren’t comfortable discussing, the relationship of the places and buildings to the people in the space.

  163. “You can cut and paste all the data you want, rob.” – joe

    Yeah, we can’t let actual facts get in the way, right? You’re the only guy I know who thinks that being right about something means “ignoring the facts presented.”

    “You still haven’t even attempted an answer to my central thesis here, and you’ve had plenty of time to do so. I just don’t think you’re capable of addressing architecture in terms of its impact on and use by human beings. You’d rather talk about it as a combination of art history and engineering.” – joe

    Uh-huh… Get back to me when you can match architectural styles to their basic design elements, or even just correctly identify where the styles derive their names from.

    “Last chance, or I’m declaring victory.” – joe

    You should go ahead and declare victory, joe, you’re the only one who will believe you. Everyone else who ever bothers to read this thread already knows better.

  164. WWII Monument in DC.

    “Fascist” is the first thing that comes to mind when seeing it. Didn’t like it. Looked too Euro Weenie-end-of-days.

    How does that monument’s style/theory/execution differ from some of the other ones there?

  165. “But one point of commonality does not make them ideologically related.”

    In this case, it does, becasue that one point of commonality (actually a collection of several elements) is based on the ideology of how people are supposed to relate to the state/volk/People. Creating a reflection of this relationship with the building standing in for the state (or whatever) was the purpose of both Brutalism and Nazi architecture. It may be “one point in common,” but since that point was the raison d’etre of both schools of architecture, having it in common would seem to be rather significant.

    Concentration camps were meant to enforce Nazi ideology. Gulag camps were meant to enforce Bolshevik ideology. The fact that they both use design to work on the inhabitants in the same way is, indeed “one point in common,” but that point is the defining characteristic of both.

  166. ‘You’re the only guy I know who thinks that being right about something means “ignoring the facts presented.”‘

    Only the irrelevant facts, Old Bean. What you’ve had to say about building materials and the French language doesn’t matter.

    “You should go ahead and declare victory, joe”

    Yeah, I didn’t think you were going to attempt to address the point. You haven’t so far.

  167. “Apparently, you don’t know the difference between the two fields. City planning is concerned with architecture as it relates to the effect of the buildings and designs of the people in the city. Not as art history, not as engineering, not as building trades.” – joe

    I wonder why you are suddenly so proud of your ignorance. Usually you stake your arguments on your expert authority… Oh, that part comes in your next paragraph, where you argue that ignorance and expertise are not polar opposites:

    “Which is why I put forward a theory about the impact of the buildings on the public – the one you have been utterly unwilling to address, except to make factually incorrect statements about previous architecture that leaves out the area of thought which you aren’t comfortable discussing, the relationship of the places and buildings to the people in the space.” – joe

    Yep, I can’t imagine how an understanding of architecture and architectural styles could possibly be relevant to such an endeavor. The idea that it’s perfectly alright to demonstrate your ignorance because you are an expert in another – but completely intertwined – field is as unintentionally funny as your utter lack of self-examination.

    It’s like going to visit a neurologist and having him tell you he doesn’t know anything about general medical practice because of his neurology expertise!

  168. Serious Question,

    There is no human element in the WWII Memorial. Heck, they don’t even show names, each person is just 1/100 of a star. Some of the iconography is pretty unfortunate, too. A spread-winged eagle on a globe in a World War II context was a poor choice.

  169. Wow, rob, that was so snark-a-riffic that I almost didn’t notice that you still can’t address the point.

    I guess it just doesn’t add up for you.

    Heh.

  170. “In this case, it does, becasue that one point of commonality (actually a collection of several elements) is based on the ideology of how people are supposed to relate to the state/volk/People.” – joe

    Especially considering that ALL of the architectural styles that incorporate monumentalism have that same “one point in common”… regardless of how different their motivations, political, theological, or otherwise.

    “Creating a reflection of this relationship with the building standing in for the state (or whatever) was the purpose of both Brutalism and Nazi architecture.” – joe

    Ok, now plug in Egyptian, Gothic, etc. in place of Brutalism and Nazi. All people are bipedal carbon-based life forms. That one point in common doesn’t make all people alike.

    To you, perhaps, it’s all the same. Ironic, because that’s how I view Republicans and Democrats. They’re both power-hungry groups of politicians. But you’ll stand up and argue from sun-up to sun-down that the Democrats are somehow better.

  171. Serious Question – Yeah, it’s got this odd, empty feel to it. The one element I liked was the way they lit the pillars at night (nothing new for D.C.) but at least it gave it some dignity. Do you think that “Greatest Generation” will fade in memory because of the lack of adequate monuments to their “Greatness.”

    On the other hand, it’s a very open design, with no defensible chokepoints, which joe surely will think is the bee’s knees.

  172. “Especially considering that ALL of the architectural styles that incorporate monumentalism have that same “one point in common”… regardless of how different their motivations, political, theological, or otherwise.”

    That’s just not true. The alienation of the individual and the identification of one’s identity only in terms of a mass that stands before the power of the state is utterly absent from American political monumentalism (except for the Brutalist period). Ditto with Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals – you are small before God, sure, but you are still you, an individual who, in your individuality, is made in the image of God and relates to him one-on-one.

    I don’t think you get that. You’re arguing that Big is Big. Well, no, it’s not. You can do a lot of different things with big.

  173. “To you, perhaps, it’s all the same.”

    Um, no, to YOU it’s all the same. To me, as I’ve repeatedly state, they are very different.

    “On the other hand, it’s a very open design, with no defensible chokepoints, which joe surely will think is the bee’s knees.”

    Is there going to come a point where you notice that you keep making assertions of what I believe that appear immediately below a comment where I make exactly the opposite point?

  174. joe – Everyone here has figured out that you

    1) have a point of view, and;

    2) it is impregnable to any rational discussion.

    After a thread where you’ve shown yourself repeatedly to be woefully uninformed about basic facts, you think that if you just keep posting things that aren’t correct, it will provide cover for your nonsense. Good luck with that.

  175. mediageek,

    So, from the examples we have, when people of any race carry open all of us are going to get our rights trampled on when we have too much government.

  176. OK, rob, I accept your surrender.

    Not everyone can discuss the philosophy behind architecture, or its effect. Some people are more comfortable with other aspects, like history and materials.

    No shame in that.

  177. “OK, rob, I accept your surrender.” – joe

    You are truly a piece of work, joe. You can be proven demonstrably wrong at every turn and then claim “victory.”

    “Not everyone can discuss the philosophy behind architecture, or its effect. Some people are more comfortable with other aspects, like history and materials. No shame in that.” – joe

    I try not to hang my arguments on personal authority, joe, you should give it a shot some time. (BTW, no one will trust your “expertise” if you can’t even get the basics right – it destroys any credibilty you might have been able to lay claim to.)

    Frankly, I think you’ve clearly – and quite publicly – shown that your ignorance on the subject is overwhelming, and that your inability to make an argument beyond the murky realm of your feelings has done at least as much damage to your lame architectural political claims than anything I could have written.

    Calling your over-reaching political conclusions “architectural philosophy” demeans both words, “architectural” and “philosophy.”

    You can snobbish, effete noises that the problem is really that you’re just better suited to philosophical discussions of architecture, but when you’re wrong about basic facts you can’t seriously expect anyone to believe you.

    Once again, you’ve been your own worst enemy.

  178. “You can be proven demonstrably wrong at every turn…”

    Except for the point I was making, that you noticeably whiffed on, and tried to avoid by sniping about trivia.

    “I try not to hang my arguments on personal authority, joe, you should give it a shot some time.” Yeah, you keep saying that. Since I’ve done no such thing, and you can’t point to a single sentence in which I did, I’m filing this alongside your other efforts to impugn my morals instead of discussing the issue.

    “…has done at least as much damage to your lame architectural political claims than anything I could have written.” Anything would be more effective than what you’ve written about my architectural political claims, because you failed miserably to make a plausible argument against them.

  179. “Except for the point I was making, that you noticeably whiffed on, and tried to avoid by sniping about trivia.” – joe

    Yeah, anytime you’re caught flat-footed and obviously wrong, it’s trivia. Sure, ok…

    “Since I’ve done no such thing, and you can’t point to a single sentence in which I did,” – joe

    What exactly is an appeal to authority, joe? Would you agree that it sounds something like “I’m a city planner, so I know” or would it sound something like “Not everyone can discuss the philosophy behind architecture, or its effect. Some people are more comfortable with other aspects, like history and materials.” Because that’s surely a claim to greater authority along the lines of “I know you’re not ABLE to, only experts like me – who can’t get their basic facts right – are able to.”

    As for not countering your political claims about Brutalism, maybe you could refresh everyone here on what they were, exactly, because it seems to have shifted a few times during this thread. You can claim that I haven’t hammered you (ONCE AGAIN) on this thread, but anyone who reads the thread can tell that you’re so worried about “winning” that you’ll resort to anything – even proclaiming “victory” when you’ve obviously had your head handed to you (rhetorically and figuratively speaking).

    “I’m filing this alongside your other efforts to impugn my morals instead of discussing the issue.” – joe

    I don’t need to impugn your morals, your recent and past comments speak loudly enough on that subject.

  180. “What exactly is an appeal to authority, joe?”

    X is true, because Authority Y said so. Noting that you lack expertise, absent a statement that something is true because of my greater expertise, is not an appeal to authority – even when I speculate that your failure to offer an argument comes from your lack of knowledge. Can you find anywhere where I’ve written that any of my points are true because I used to be a planner? Why, that would be “No.”

    “because it seems to have shifted a few times during this thread.” How sad for you that you would consider the refinement of ideas through dialogue to be a bad thing. I think I’ve just gained some understanding about why you argue like such a dick.

    “you’re so worried about “winning” that you’ll resort to anything – even proclaiming “victory” when you’ve obviously had your head handed to you (rhetorically and figuratively speaking).”

    Cripes, project much?

  181. You made one valid contribution to the discussion in the entire thread, rob – pointing out that other monumental forms of architecture use scale and mass to produce a feeling of smallness. This compelled me to clarify what, specifically, makes the manner in which Nazi and Brutalist architecture distinct from other monumental forms. That actually improved the discussion, and helped to clarify my own ideas; that is to say, it was an active contribution towards acheiving understanding.

    Otherwise, all you’ve done is insult me, copy edit my nomenclature, and declare that I therefore must be wrong about everything.

    I don’t think you even understand the difference between the two, and that’s sad for you.

  182. Yes, you’ve always so clearly “handed my head to me AGAIN,” even when you’ve argued that 58% is not a majority, and that 100-58=50.

    You’re a legend in your own mind – fine. That’s obviously very important to you, as demonstrated by the adorable Trapper Keeper full of anti-city planner quotes you carry around to try to pick fights with me. (Rich, full life you’ve got there.)

    For me, that’s really not why I come here.

  183. Are you STILL going on about that? You were even wrong on THAT thread – 58% of Democrats is not an overwhelming majority. Wake up! I never argued that 50 is a majority. 50% is still half of 100, tho, genius.

    “For me, that’s really not why I come here.” – joe

    Really? Why DO you come here?

    I’d respond to the other 3 posts you just put up trying to cover your unsightly retreat, but why bother to reiterate the obvious?

  184. “So, from the examples we have, when people of any race carry open all of us are going to get our rights trampled on when we have too much government.”

    I had a rather lengthy post that I typed up earlier, but failed to submit.

    The bottom line is that race is one of the justifications that’s been used for gun control. There are, of course, others, too.

    Note that some states do allow open carry.

    I guess I can’t give you the simple answer you want to hear.

  185. mediageek,

    California was one of the open carry States, until people carried open in the floor of the legeslature. Similar to your other example that I was not aware of and I took as fact.

    Just saying, don’t assume race when a bunch of showoffs are involved.

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