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Well, now… here’s something we haven’t seen before: a glass Borg Box with some jaunty angles to liven the darn thing up. This humdinger is slated for downtown Mankato, Minnesota, a town with about as much architectural charm as a 1956 Norge Refrigerator. Note the screenshot below of the current condition of the corner where this UFO is about to land. One thing you have to admire about the rendering: they captured all the fluorescent lighting fixtures so well! These Midwestern clods have been busy destroying their small towns for several generations now. Wait until the buyer’s remorse sets in. Thanks to Matthias Leyrer 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.

31 Responses to “February 2018”

  1. 99 cent nation February 2, 2018 at 11:46 am #

    Hahahahaha. As much as an architectural charm as a 1956 Norge Refrigerator. This just made my day. Thanks Jim

  2. GreenAlba February 2, 2018 at 11:52 am #

    The jaunty-angled bit with the lighting at the top looks as if it’s been stuck on as an afterthought – it looks a bit like a carton for King King to hold his popcorn in or one of those bags they give you in supermarkets to carry flowers home.

    • Janos Skorenzy February 2, 2018 at 2:22 pm #

      Carton for King King? One is reminded of the Professor who dissed Freud only to write orgasm when she meant to write organism. One more K and you’re in.

      • GreenAlba February 2, 2018 at 6:36 pm #

        Good evening, Janos. Nothing to say about the actual building, then, just out on a sniping sortie? Perhaps you could leave that for the CFN page.

  3. GreenAlba February 2, 2018 at 11:53 am #

    *King Kong* even…

    • Q. Shtik February 2, 2018 at 12:18 pm #

      Don’t you just hate it when you blow the punch line?

      • Janos Skorenzy February 2, 2018 at 2:20 pm #

        Where am I? Is this West Fargo, ND? I’m here to buy a horse from an Indian.

  4. GreenAlba February 2, 2018 at 12:28 pm #

    Yep 🙂

    • GreenAlba February 2, 2018 at 12:35 pm #

      Also, such blowings of punch lines are better hidden on page 5 rather than displayed on the front page below the headline. Punished for my haste.

  5. Neon Vincent February 2, 2018 at 12:51 pm #

    So the Eyesore of the Month has now been promoted to your main blog? At least doing so will get it more attention and make for a good change of pace.

    With that observation out of the way, I wish you and your readers a Happy Groundhog Day! May the endless repetition until one gets it right not tempt one to drive off with the groundhog over the cliff!

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  6. lateStarter February 2, 2018 at 12:58 pm #

    Don’t even get me started on a discussion about fluorescent lighting! I think this gem demands a google-earth session to check out the surroundings. I noticed that the Landmark Center across the street has space for lease.

  7. Bruce E February 2, 2018 at 1:35 pm #

    Haha, wherever will they park after they remove that lot?

  8. janet February 2, 2018 at 1:55 pm #

    Thanks, Jim, for this week’s posting.

    I doubt the lights will be fluorescent. New office buildings would probably install LED lighting that uses less energy than the traditional fluorescent lights found in the ceilings of most schools and office buildings. Installing LED lighting throughout this Mankato, Minnesota building could provide an estimated savings of $60,000-$70,000 over 14 years. So, why wouldn’t they go with what saves them the most money.

    Besides the economic benefits, studies have shown that LED lighting was rated more interesting, colorful, comfortable, warm, inviting and beautiful than fluorescent lighting (evaluation, p = 0.004) as well as more casual, private and pleasant than fluorescent lighting (p = 0.058).

    No significant differences were found between LED lighting and fluorescent lighting concerning well-being, performance and concentration.


    Have a relaxing weekend, Jim.

  9. Bro Jobe February 2, 2018 at 2:19 pm #

    JHK, you are at your best when showing us the horrors in plain view.

    Some local idiots probably call the building “daring,” or “Postmodern.”

    Looks like it came from leftovers in the parts bin. Good call.

  10. homesteader February 2, 2018 at 2:19 pm #

    Humdinger, indeed. I hope you’ll do more of these. Also, how about showing us some examples of good architecture and/or planning.

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    • KesaAnna February 2, 2018 at 2:40 pm #

      ” Also, how about showing us some examples of good architecture and/or planning. ”

      that would interest me.

      Because while i am not a fan of this type of building either , I have lived in a 100 year old house , with no indoor plumbing , with no air-conditioning in a region on the same latitude as Egypt and Libya , and that definitely sucked.

      sure , i have met dilettantes who were slumming it for the fun and novelty of it , when , after all, they had a ticket back to the air-conditioning whenever they liked ,

      And people who simply didn’t know what the fuck they were talking about.

      But , maybe you do have an alternative ?

      • tucsonspur February 2, 2018 at 3:03 pm #

        Hopefully you didn’t have to live that way for long. Art and architecture are inseparable. The good stuff is soul stirring.

        But you must know all this. Enjoy it all the more after those deprivations.

  11. tucsonspur February 2, 2018 at 2:47 pm #

    A shameful copy of a Peter Keating creation, with a bunch of bland glass rectangles blended with boring columns and an attempt at creative modernity, with the addition of a futuristic looking laundry chute crammed into the corner, and glowing at the top.

    Notice the Keating, “they’ll like this” tack on, at the upper right.

    • tucsonspur February 2, 2018 at 2:56 pm #

      “But I don’t know, some curtains on the windows, a few flowers….”

  12. janet February 2, 2018 at 7:21 pm #

    Yes, it is Feb. 2, 2018, and fewer of these buildings will be built after Trump finishes with destroying our economy. Today the Dow closed down 666 points, or 2.5%, its biggest percentage decline since the Brexit turmoil in June 2016 and the steepest point decline since the 2008 financial crisis. Trump does not know how to run the country. 666.

  13. swhite February 5, 2018 at 9:09 am #

    As a MIdwestern clod myself, I have to say it doesn’t look all that bad to me, although that funny thing on the roof on the right seems to have no purpose, and that part with the angled wall looks like something they put in there just because they could, But I do have a thought on the spot where they building is going to be placed.

    The rather vacant spot where the building will go reminds me of my home town of Brainerd right about in the middle of Minnesota. In the old downtown area, there was a theater, which was torn down and replaced by…a parking lot. That theater was a bit more modern than the other theater which was older and had a bit more charm, and that was torn down and replaced with…a parking lot. The Brainerd Hotel nearby burned, and after they cleared away the residue they put up…a parking lot. Similarly for a nearby building with a drug store on the first floor and (I assume) apartments above it. The classic armory building was torn down, although they might have put up another building on that spot.

    Anyway, Mr. Kunstler’s observation about small towns destroying themselves seems accurate to me, and it seems like the highest and best use of any piece of land these days is a parking lot.

  14. Peter VE February 5, 2018 at 3:06 pm #

    On behalf of vintage Norge refrigerators everywhere, I must protest. I’d much rather have a building with the elan of a Norge Refrigerator, still carrying the last vestiges of Art Deco/Moderne style, than this neo modern pastiche of cliches.

    • RobH February 6, 2018 at 8:55 am #

      I looked up Norge refrigerators as I was not familiar with them. They have quite pleasant curves. I suspect the average life of a Norge was somewhat longer than this building will have

      The new build, to be fair, looks no worse than the dreary stuff there currently. It’s like replacing a Norge with a Smeg

      The real question is why can’t they just demolish the whole area and build a new smaller, walkable and usable centre

  15. bymitch February 6, 2018 at 3:27 am #

    Each to their own, I guess. The standard birds-eye view to sell to the bird brains, and the feeling of pain in the try-hard approach to arranging some familiar shapes. Hard to come up with something witty in response to something so beige, when beige is obviously OK.However, down at street level, where us humans hang out, is as miserable as can be, and this is where this thing fails on all fronts. The economy of sidewalk and the excuse for outdoor space on the other side of the solid wall pay homage to the queue. There is no way of moving through these spaces unless in single file. Goose step and salute optional.

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  16. My Point of View February 9, 2018 at 11:27 am #

    I enjoy the “Eyesore” column, always a good laxative effect.

    For a google drive-by, the location is Main St and North 2nd St in Mankato. Maybe this link will work for you:

    The design is out of character with nearby brick structures that give the area the solid sturdiness we expect from midwestern values.

    If a terrorist ever touches off a fertilizer bomb outside that place the glass shrapnel will shred the occupants. I doubt they’ll use the $10k per window type of blast resistant windows we put in the Pentagon during it’s $1B rehab a few years ago. More likely an F2 tornado will bombard the place with enough high velocity debris to wreck it. I hope none of my REITs are financing this piece of ugly architecture.

  17. smoothtom February 14, 2018 at 2:21 pm #

    On, come on. It will have ample light, it fronts on the street, it reuses a vacant lot instead of placing a building out in the burbs, and you still mock it. Your critiques were more substantial a decade ago; now you just sound like an old fart.

  18. JCalvertNUK February 17, 2018 at 1:19 pm #

    It is perhaps a bit unadventurous.
    For ‘adventurous’, check out Napoli-Afrigola station for the sort of adventure that ends in disaster. http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/wwfeatures/wm/live/1600_900/images/live/p0/5r/42/p05r4245.jpg
    Is it a crashed airship? Or a large long-dead and rotting snake?

  19. AKlein February 19, 2018 at 8:27 am #

    These kinds of buildings are just like the movies cranked out nowadays; formulaic excrescences. Lots of glass? Check. Crazy-assed angles? Check. Useless “adornments”? Check? Bold (i.e. off-putting and puzzling) general style? Check. Frankly, All these characteristics are meant to mask the real, underlying motivation. Which is; nobody – including the planners, architects, builders – gives a good G-d damn. In other words, what can “we” put up that “they” (that’s us) will think that “we” really cared. Rather like a faked orgasm. Oh, and another thing, in addition to real thought, genuine ornamentation and style would cost a lot more money than the crap that supposed to amaze the locals. Gee, the Mankato yokels can gaze upon this and think there just like the big city.

  20. AKlein February 19, 2018 at 8:29 am #

    Correction for above: “they’re” not “there” in the last sentence. I note this before the grammar/spelling/usage Nazis take me to task.

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  21. bymitch February 19, 2018 at 9:42 pm #

    ‘faked orgasm’, I like it! AKlein – I request permission to use this useful architectural term when I next critique some of the latest contortions down here.


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