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Behold, the Vancouver House condominiums by the Bjarke Ingels Group (“BIG,” as they style themselves — no grandiosity there). Does the building appear to want to topple over and crush you? Isn’t that cute? Beware of what you wish for, especially with the Cascadia Fault lurking in the deep background. Architecture Magazine says the building “delivers an emotional impact.” I’ll say. Something like, “get me the fuck outa here!” It goes on to say, “The tower and base are a new interpretation of the local typology deemed ‘Vancouverism’ of a new urbanist podium coupled with a slender tower, which seeks to preserve view cones through the city while activating the pedestrian street.” This is baloney, of course. There’s no such thing as a “new urbanist podium.” Rather, that is a convention of old-school Modernist “Vancouverism,” which produces whole blocks of blank walls enfronting the street — an urban life killer. Preserving “view cones” is just additional grad school rubbish.

Construction Complete!

Thanks to Todd Holmes 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 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.

12 Responses to “June 2019” Subscribe

  1. tucsonspur June 3, 2019 at 6:34 pm #

    Initially they scoffed at the great Flat Iron building in NYC. While that structure was first thought a blunder, it now inspires wonder. This one will follow suit, with its strikingly daring and imaginative shape. The eye at first rebels against the uncommon form, wants things to fit easily into the usual architectural closet. Yes, here the eye is truly exercised. But the benefits of exercise again reveal themselves.

    Forget about the trendy terminology like “urban podiums” and “activating the pedestrian street”.

    Gaze upon its true boldness, its inspiring iconoclasm, its euphoric engineering.

    dailyhive.com/vancouver/vancouver-house-tower-is-set-to-change-the-face-of-this-city-forever

  2. San Jose June 4, 2019 at 12:43 am #

    This is unsettling. Having survived earthquakes, I have no desire to be anywhere near this hideous tower. Ultimate bad feng shui.

    Jen in San Jose

  3. tucsonspur June 4, 2019 at 1:22 am #

    The trend towards new, strange shapes is worldwide. This building kind of mimics the Cheese Grater building in London.

    Look at the Burj Al Arab, the shy curl of the Al Hamra Tower. Look at the skylines of London, Shanghai, and the cities of the Middle East.

    Rather this than, “row after Mies von der row of glass boxes” or the “Rue de Regret”.

    Bold, Brave, and Brassy while being almost sadistically symbolic of our teetering nation, ready to topple.

  4. Chris at Fernglade Farm June 4, 2019 at 7:40 am #

    Hi Jim,

    Any building that begins with the premise of: “Let’s assume that nothing will go wrong”, is surely asking the very gods themselves to rain havoc down upon their hubris?

    I live in an area that has regularly been confronted with wildfire. The most recent serious wildfire was in 1983 (Ash Wednesday). Given the risk and restricted funds, I personally constructed the house giving attention to the overall detail and to every single join and external and internal material, but even still I could have stuffed up something – or time and general wear and tear has caused an unknown problem.

    I’d be curious as to your thoughts, but cantilevers seem like an epic wank to me (excuse my potty mouth). They might look good to some people, and frankly I find the eyesore this month to be quite unsettling, but surely a few posts and maybe some more or less generally accepted methods of keeping a building vertical, wouldn’t be a bad idea?

    Cheers

    Chris

  5. JCalvertNUK June 4, 2019 at 1:46 pm #

    Unobstructed fall from any balcony. A clean jump every time. No need to spoil anybody-else’s day by bouncing off their railing while on the way down.

  6. bymitch June 4, 2019 at 8:36 pm #

    The conundrum of the towerblock:

    What to do with a cantilevered stick,
    Slice it, dice it, mimic a prick

    Pat it and press it and mark it with whatever maybe,
    Cheesegrater, honeycomb, retro eyeware by D&G

    and what Joyce Kilmer said…

  7. DurangoKid June 7, 2019 at 12:52 pm #

    Modern materials have presented us with the possibility of realizing any bad idea. Our fear and self loathing finds expression with every departure.

  8. tucsonspur June 9, 2019 at 4:19 pm #

    Is this idea all wet?

    yahoo.com/news/london-soon-home-world-most-130044295.html

  9. Zarko Straadi June 15, 2019 at 10:51 pm #

    No no, you don’t understand, this is planetary defense. When the D’och-chaki invaders arrive, they’ll see that and think, “Oh, the Zythmaat wedge-ships are already here. Let’s move on to the next planet.”

  10. Architectural Observer June 16, 2019 at 11:19 am #

    This would work much better at a smaller scale as a sculpture in a gallery somewhere. It is visually interesting, but I don’t want to see this on the street — any street.

    It will likely not age well, and most modern buildings don’t look good as they begin to age and show signs of weathering, etc. It appears that it may be a maintenance nightmare in time, and not be as exciting for the owners as it is now. From some perspectives the building just looks horribly misshapen and mutilated… not a good look in public.

  11. jeff2002 June 17, 2019 at 9:50 am #

    Looks like a late-stage game of Jenga just before the wrong block gets pulled.

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