Behold, the latest addition to the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass, by architect Tadao Ando. Add to your collection of sleek Modernist bowling trophies. The world has had enough of minimalism on steroids; it just doesn’t know it yet. It’s ironic, for sure, arising as it does out of such a maximalist culture and economy, but the warriors of the Cutting Edge like nothing better than to pretend they are trimmed for speed. Like so many other exercises in hubris, this building enters The Long Emergency unprepared for the dynamics that will rule the times ahead: resource and capital scarcity, lack of fabricated complex modular building materials needed for renovation and regular maintenance. The flat roof will be toast sooner rather than later under the heavy New England snows. The gaskets keeping the reflecting pool water out of the building will also fail pretty soon. The mandatory glass curtain wall will be a bad joke, despite the geothermal wells dug to cut down the heating bill.
Haven’t we learned since the 1960s that there are few things more depressing than raw concrete walls? How exactly will the window washers get to the curtain wall? Hip boots? And what’s up with that depressing light well under the ugly bridge to the building’s entrance?
Here’s another view of the light well from inside, showing the grand minimalist stairway. How many hundreds of times have you seen the same arrangement of glass, concrete, hardwood, and tubular chrome steel? And, by the way, notice that besides the building itself not one object d’art is visible during your journey inside the art museum. It will be interesting to see how this building ages, but the gas may not be available to get over there.
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Behold (above) the wished-for outcome of a project that would turn the Interstate 81 elevated freeway that runs through the heart of Syracuse, New York, into a surface boulevard.more »