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Behold the renovated Edmonton, Alberta, downtown main library… or is an alien invasion under way? It’s hard to imagine a more aggressively menacing building than this intergalactic war-wagon. Message: Surrender, you miserable earthlings! Your way-of-life is over. So it goes with the unending quest for cutting edge novelty in the mind-fucked precincts of contemporary architecture.

This humdinger cost $84 million (Canadian).

See below, the original Edmonton Library… and below that, the miserable interim replacement that the current “skin-job” renovation covered up. What you’re witnessing is western civilization incrementally losing its dignity, along with its heart, soul, and mind.

Thanks to John MacKinnon for the nomination!

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 the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

11 Responses to “August 2019”

  1. EmoryWhiteside August 3, 2019 at 1:53 pm #

    It is amazing to me that any money are available for a library since everything nowadays is in cyberspace….well maybe that is the reason behind the design.

  2. dantesque August 4, 2019 at 1:33 pm #

    Wow, this is like Franky Gehry minus the curves and “whimsy.” Imagine trying to find the entrance to that beast during a lovely Edmontonian winter!

    For September, I’d like to nominate my little city near San Francisco. We have a lovely city hall modeled after Independence Hall in Philadelphia: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SSF_City_Hall.JPG.

    But for reasons unbeknownst to me, for several decades all city business has happened in a converted Mervyn’s department store (https://goo.gl/maps/o5U7wGVwHwaAWz4N6).

    Well, that’s not very dignified. So our wise leaders decided to create an “iconic” civic center across the street – http://www.measurewssfcivic.com/index.php. To me, it looks like a lumpy sideways phallic symbol, but maybe I’m just not “innovative” enough. The stated reason for the elongated shape is that BART (our subway sytem) runs under the site so most of it is off limits to build on. Wait, why did we pick this site again?

    Another lovely feature is they decided to go with “fritted smart glass” for the exterior that will dim like those fancy airplane windows. So yeah, in addition to all the heat loss from the glass, we’ll need microcomputers just to pull the blinds.

  3. tucsonspur August 5, 2019 at 6:03 am #

    Some questions I was about to ask have already been asked. Is the city getting ready for battle? Is it a ship or a tank?

    At first glance I thought that maybe the arena for Robot Wars was being expanded, and that I was seeing a giant size version of the Razer under construction.

    I certainly hope that this is a Close Encounter of the Very Last Kind. Looks like this beast was constructed with a misaligned V square. It’s a sorry mess of scalene squalor and patchy parallelograms.

    And why the need for stealth facings? To deflect barrages of anticipated heated criticism? Also, remember, this is a place for books, not munitions.

    All in all, a militaristic monster, reeking malevolence.

    On the bright side, this formidable fortress should be a redoubtable repository for the treasures within. Just remember the words: Klaatu, Barada, Nikto. You should be fine. I think.

  4. JackStraw August 5, 2019 at 9:13 am #

    I expect to see stormtroopers walk out of this grotesquely intimidating monstrosity, armed with with laser rifles, and given the mission of arresting civilians guilty of thoughtcrimes.

  5. mow August 6, 2019 at 6:10 pm #

    cue the trekkies lol

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  6. bymitch August 7, 2019 at 6:24 pm #

    I think that they would call this revolutionary.
    It is obviously designed to cause some civic shock or outrage.
    Similar styling concept to the WiLL vehicles that cleverly combine both comedy and tragedy in an offensive outer shell, awkwardly plonked on top of 1960’s chassis technology.
    Do not despair that only architects spending public money have access to this form of high art.
    Anyone can provoke similar public reaction by wearing their underpants on their head while strolling down the high street.

  7. Tripped up August 12, 2019 at 11:33 am #

    I moved to Alberta in February and it still shocks me that a province with such natural beauty can build such utterly despairing public buildings. Not to mention the soul-crushing suburban sprawl they have set across their landscapes. The picture of the original library makes me very sad. It is beyond my understanding how there can be such a disconnect between the land’s stunning beauty and the imagination of the architects and Boards of Directors.

  8. kevinb September 3, 2019 at 2:12 pm #

    Funny thing with this one Jim…this was influenced by a previous eyesore of the month, the Seattle public library by rem koolhaas…architecture geeks love that guy, and now you can see an example of his influence on the profession…of course he is another one that may have been a used car salesman in another life, talks a lot of garbage nonsense to sell his horrible ideas

  9. Ron L September 10, 2019 at 10:06 pm #

    People are probably wondering how Alberta got this monstrosity. It’s quite simple. Architecture, as we all know, exists in three dimensions.
    So architects are constantly exploring new ways to represent space. Now imagine that space and color have meaning. The color “black” means “sin” but it also means “change.” That’s why the building is black. The shape of the building is intended to imply that humans are all living together inside a machine. That’s why the design is so anti-human. And if we are living together inside a changing machine, we are obligated to service the machine by conforming to the rules of a machine driven society. This is very much in the philosophy of Le Corbusier. He said that a home is a machine for living.

    The real argument of this building is that people are not people. They are cogs in the machine; who must all work together with perfect coordination; and with no regard to personal feelings, or identity. And they have proved this point by building this thing without consulting the taxpayers in advance. After all, there’s no reason to ask people anything, because they aren’t really people.

  10. Madz09 January 2, 2021 at 6:56 am #

    Thinking that they can modernize everything, It’s funny that these designs, since it’s already built meaning it was been approved by many. What are they thinking? Love this forum of yours, love a good laugh every month, that is why I always come back here. Anyway, will be glad too, it you could maybe download these games that are free. The games are Plants vs. Zombies – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/plants-vs-zombies/ejigcfelmldlidangkhdecflbgdglkja and Eyes – https://games.lol/eyes-the-scary-horror-game-adventure/, a horror game. Check the links and will direct you to the site where you can download the game.

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  1. The spirit of Ramar Pillai and his herbal fuel | voodooville - August 20, 2019

    […] Ultimately it is not energy that we are seeking. After all, one can spend some money shop in the local Walmart, or jet around half-way around the globe, and shop in another Walmart, when cheap stuff are arranged in the same disconcerting uniformity, that one doesn’t know if he is in America or Asia. Or work in similar air-conditioned box of concrete and glass, in most places of the world. Concrete box cages for the coolies are the de-facto paradigm of progress, that “world-class” cities are being created, following penal colony scripted, rule-based emptiness of straight-lines and boxes, seen in Singapore and Dubai. So good that our own Bollywood stars market apartments and villas in such coolie colonies. Energy doesn’t automatically translate to happy and wholesome living. See some of Kunstler’s colorful descriptions of modern architecture in his “Eyesore of the Month” (https://kunstler.com/eyesore-of-the-month/august-2019/). […]