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February 2012

Techno-grandiosity rears its sleek, mystifying surfaces in the proposal for Cornell University’s new Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island, New York City designed by the corporate androids at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, LLP.

Cornel Tech Center on Roosevelt Island NYC featured in Kunstler's Eyesore of the Month February 2012

Techno-grandiosity rears its sleek, mystifying surfaces in the proposal for Cornell University’s new Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island, New York City designed by the corporate androids at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, LLP. The deployment on the ground is what we call “train-wreck urbanism.” No street-and-block pattern. In fact, it is just an update of Corbusier’s old towers-in-a-park motif (though the towers appear to have toppled onto their sides). This is the “green” update on Corbu, of course, with the tilted slab buildings oriented to the south for solar collection (or else they may simply roast the occupants within). Note, characteristic of Corbu-derived anti-urbanism, the “green space” surrounding the buildings is wholly ambiguous – while the tree plantings are arbitrary in the vain attempt to signify: “Nature Here!” 
      How much do we suck?

     Thanks and shout-out to Meg Dahlgren for sending in this humdinger. She remarked wisely: “It seems that all an architect has to say is “green design,” and all else is forgiven.”

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.

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