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11-year-old Jeff Greenaway hears his mom and dad argue one night after an office Christmas party. He infers from their garbled squabble that he is an orphan, found in a willow basket on the welcome mat outside their New York apartment. Thinking now that his parents are imposters, he steals away to Grand Central Station and buys a train ticket to Drakesville, Vermont, where he intends to start life all over again.
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April 2013

Behold, the proposed new San Francisco Trans-Bay Transit Center at First and Fremont Streets.

eyesore_201304Behold, the proposed new San Francisco Trans-Bay Transit Center at First and Fremont Streets.

Just What the world needs: another “Blob” building designed like a rampaging one-celled organism — a microphage or a man-eating amoeba. The architecture world feels compelled to come up with some new novelty stunt for every proposed new public building. (Notice how many of them look the same! So much for originality.) Here’s one thing you can count on: these experiments, with their “innovative” (read: untested) claddings, gaskets, connectors, and other modular materials, will probably never be renovated. Do not be surprised if one consequence of Peak Oil, Peak Debt, and capital scarcity means that we will have neither the money nor the materials to fix these buildings over time. And don’t assume we’ll continue to be able to do advanced computerized fabrication of things like each of those curvy window panels. Hence, a building like this has no capacity for adaptive re-use — which is the stupidest thing you can “build-in” to public investment. As an asthetic matter, I suppose the idea is to “wow” the casual visitor with strangeness and novelty. My guess is that the overhanging skirt of blob-glass will only make people uncomfortable. Further proof here that the architecture profession has its head completely up its ass.

Thanks to reader Kevin Dole for sending it in.

About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

3 Responses to “April 2013” Subscribe

  1. BleatToTheBeat June 11, 2013 at 1:33 am #

    It was my uncle that taught me about art. He was an art teacher at a small liberal arts college in Indiana. A painter and a sculptor. He would indulge me by stretching huge canvases and then join me by throwing paint around his garage. Brushes, rollers, sponges, a St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap….I’m gonna see how many layers of acrylic paint I can build up and make a tree that sticks WAY out…

    What a blast!

    Even though he was kind of frail at the time, we visited Vito Acconci’s “Walkways Through The Wall” in Milwaukee and the ongoing “Swarm Street” in Indianapolis. And sure, when he and I were much younger he took me to the museums and Daly Plaza in Chicago. When I was in the Army in Europe he told me to make sure that I saw some of Richard Serra’s steel sculptures before I left. I did, and frankly, I didn’t get it. Nor did I get, after living there for many years, Frank Gehry’s LA buildings. I thought, why? Isn’t LA warped enough already?

    What do I know…

    I’ve been visiting your website for a long time, Mr. Kunstler. Did what I could to understand the talks on “New Urbanism” and unfriendly architecture. I thought your TED talk was excellent. A good primer for someone as clueless on the subject as me.

    In the second half of my life, I started doing construction work. Steel work and mechanical construction. Pretty gnarly stuff.

    When I read this part of this month’s Eyesore…

    “Here’s one thing you can count on: these experiments, with their “innovative” (read: untested) claddings, gaskets, connectors, and other modular materials, will probably never be renovated. Do not be surprised if one consequence of Peak Oil, Peak Debt, and capital scarcity means that we will have neither the money nor the materials to fix these buildings over time. And don’t assume we’ll continue to be able to do advanced computerized fabrication of things like each of those curvy window panels.”

    Holy Shit! ….I got it!

    I see the light!

    youtube.com/watch?v=lX5tfRdkoY0

  2. Andy B June 19, 2013 at 4:20 am #

    There is a sense of incompleteness about the building. It appears to be either under construction, or in some preserved state of break-down. This may indicate the designers have already foreseen the end state of this junk architecture… and taken a wise, pre-emptive stance. A certain genius here: garbage becoming garbage.

  3. ScottyB January 25, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    The front elevation is evocative of a huge gauzy wiener.

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