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Clark Ando 1

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.

Clark Ando 2

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?

Clark Ando 3Here’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.

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.

11 Responses to “August 2014” Subscribe

  1. Peter VE August 4, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    How soon before the drains at the bottom of the light well clog up, and the lower floor starts to fill up with water?

  2. stelmosfire August 5, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    Just up the road, this piece of poo is a huge waste of money. Williamstown is a charming old New England town spoiled by the neuvo rich of Hampshire county. traincampaign.org/

  3. AKlein August 6, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    From afar it looks a bit like a multi-bay self-serve car wash. That’s a fitting simile; a paean to the automobile.

  4. rdm August 7, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    Too bad that stuff can’t be sectioned apart after a short life and used for freeway slabs.

  5. mjlb2 September 16, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

    I nearly always agree with your choices, but not so much this time. That’s mainly because I can’t look at the building without looking at the surrounding landscape, which is reflected in those pools. The pools are more than pretty, though — they help to manage the museum’s water usage, and function as a big ice pond in the winter, and probably a wading pond in the summer.

    For more info, see:
    archdaily.com/527769/clark-art-institute-tadao-ando-architect-and-associates-selldorf-architects-ree…

    “Using various harvesting techniques (drains, pipes) and storage techniques (reservoirs, tanks), the system collects foundation water, as well as rainwater, and funnels it into the reflecting pool. Collected water is also used for irrigation, plumbing (gray water for the toilets), and for makeup water for the cooling tower.”

    “Downstream discharge is biologically cleansed in the lowest of the pool’s three tiers and its constructed wetlands, assuring that no contaminants enter the brook that flows across the lower campus.”

    “The pool also connects to cisterns fed by rooftop collection basins that capture rainwater for use in the campus’s cooling tower and reservoir and utilizes that nonpotable greywater for plumbing and irrigation.”

  6. mjlb2 September 18, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

    Also:

    “The project’s difficulties, Ando said in an interview with members of the press, included… the design challenge of working with two existing buildings and a hill adjacent to the site.”

    “Architecture critic Paul Goldberger, at a conference last weekend, referred to the Clark as “a very distinguished institution located in a pair of not entirely distinguished buildings that were locked in a kind of awkward marriage.” The new expansion, he said, has resulted in a bad marriage becoming a good family. Indeed, the pink granite 1973 structure formerly towered over the 1955 building, but the Ando addition on the far side of the original restores balance to the whole; a long, low wall of matching pink granite flanks the reflecting pools, echoing the Belluschi building.”

    artinamericamagazine.com/news-features/previews/clark-art-institute-unveils-145m-tadao-ando-expansio…

  7. Alan Art October 5, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

    I might be the only reader who actually visited this building. What pleased me more than anything about it was the toilets located along the running concrete wall, near the parking lot. The first door to anything, before you make your pilgrimage towards the far main entrance.

    There are odd freestanding concrete wall sections here and there; wedges of concrete and glass rooms to house the oversized modern abstract work of painters like Cy Twombly, his scribbles fill the space, though its hard to see the work due to poor lighting and a cordoned viewer barrier. But other pretentious american painters on the other side of the wedge shape room, for instance Larry Poons (polka dot wallpaper) Clifford Still (spilled paint buckets) Morris Louis (ditto) and Jackson Pollock — whose painting surprised me as more interesting because of a lush, richly worked surface. It has the kind of attention and detail that remined me of Norman Rockwell, whose work is well worth a visit in the region. Other works included Joan Mitchell; George Inness, Winslow Homer, others of that period….that i really enjoyed seeing.

    The Clark’s new building is pretentious in ways, but what gets me is the twenty bucks admission. then they put a band on your wrist like some kind of branding and vaguely humiliating Where is our great society that houses great art in simple yet beautiful buildings, that anyone can go see regardless of money or class?

    anyway, EOTM is my fav here, rock on.

  8. edward4432 October 20, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    Glad to see some intelligent replys among the yokels and Jim.

  9. edward4432 October 20, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

    Glad to see some intelligent replies among the yokels and Jim.

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    I am very happy with content and idea you provided here for the information of where to change the important setting to remove web browsing history.But if you know about this tutorial browser delete history you never face any problem and secure your search history from other users.

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