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Behold! The (W)rapper building, Culver City, California (LA West Side), 17-stories of WTF designed by Eric Owens Moss Architects. The steel “wrapper” bands are supposedly structural, not merely decorative. Hmmmm. What does that mean exactly? That nothing inside the building is holding it up? Or what’s inside exerts such enormous outward pressure that it requires extreme exterior girdling to prevent it from bursting?  And what are those weird giant tabs on the left side? I don’t have a clue, and I doubt that anyone outside the architect’s office has, either. As the Italians once said about the look of a mystifying Mussolini-era project in the 1920s: That’s not the building; it’s the box that it came in.

What you might also be seeing here is a movie called “Revenge of the CAD” (as in Computer-aided Design). CAD has completely taken over the architectural profession. It eliminates all that tedious drawing and, of course, the mind-numbing mathematical calculations of material stresses required to make a megastructure actually stand up. Maybe CAD is stealthily evolving, unbeknownst to us humans, and developing its own malevolent artificial intelligence… and is now seeking to inflict humiliation and pain on its masters, making us look ridiculous….  Additional views of (W)rapper:

Wow! Who would have believed that this thing would present even more incoherently on its side and back? The organizational incoherence appears to be a steel and glass analog for mental illness. Well then, it is very much a thing Of Our Time. It may even represent the essence of Woke-ness — Woke being the state religion of California.

Finally, behold (below) how this thing functions at street level. Welcome to Zombie Land! It’s so unappealing that the homeless won’t even camp-out here.

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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.

32 Responses to “June 2023”

  1. dowd June 3, 2023 at 4:21 pm #

    Architectural torture?

  2. ron June 3, 2023 at 4:47 pm #

    Does this exist, or is it a “concept?”

    And I am shocked I didn’t see “AI” mentioned at least three times in this article!

    • voight-kampff June 6, 2023 at 12:23 pm #

      It stands at W Jefferson and National Blvd in CC.
      Once you see it in Street View, select ‘See Other Dates’ (in upper left) to see the construction progress

  3. Zoltar June 3, 2023 at 4:51 pm #

    Compared to this, a dog’s breakfast merits three stars in the Michelin Guide.

    • maxdid99 June 3, 2023 at 4:53 pm #

      is this what a building looks like after a RU Khinzal hits it?

  4. FGB3 June 3, 2023 at 5:19 pm #

    Oh that’s bad. That’s very bad. That’s more than very bad.
    That is just plain butt ugly!

  5. Ann Oid June 3, 2023 at 5:37 pm #

    Hahahaha – you beat me to the punch. I am an architect ever since moving to CAD, I have felt the malevolent influence of CAD. You are absolutely correct in your hunch that CAD is evolving AI – but in a parasitic relationship with its users. Yikes! One of the reasons I have stayed with smaller scale, residential projects in my career. Love this feature.

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    • Ann Oid June 3, 2023 at 5:39 pm #

      I wish there was a way to edit a comment. Another problem with working on computers is they seem to handicap my proofreading abilities.

  6. Otisman June 3, 2023 at 5:55 pm #

    Gott in Himmel.

  7. rgnoyes June 3, 2023 at 6:03 pm #

    Could those extraneous things be some sort of terrifying staircases?

    • maxdid99 June 3, 2023 at 6:27 pm #

      … or slides?

  8. paul scott June 3, 2023 at 10:22 pm #

    These are the ugliest misformation of concrete slabs I have ever seen. Is this the ugliest building in the entire world?
    What kind of bureaucratic insanity at Culver City would allow that monster thing any where ?

  9. tom clark June 3, 2023 at 11:16 pm #

    Cross Culver City off my bucket list of places to visit.

  10. Tsigantes June 3, 2023 at 11:58 pm #

    Eric Owens Moss Architects is here continuing its bid to be Starchitects. I’m an architect too and those “tabs” on the side are escape stairs [“”alternate means of escape”] which this office chose not to integrate into the building but turn into a “feature”.

    The massive clunky stair/lift core attached to the back is to my mind a total design failure and cop out and ugly to boot. As for the entrance, what a disaster.

    I have nothing against a decorative external structure holding up a supposedly transparent building of “floating” floors. This COULD be done well.. However unlike many of your other eyesores I CAN see this particular building becoming a wierd popular landmark since at some level it sticks to the idea of a recognisable type – unlike the usual 3D printer glass monstrosities.

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  11. holdfastspike June 4, 2023 at 1:28 am #

    The imprisonment of the soul.

    • Dr. Coyote June 9, 2023 at 10:40 pm #

      In a wrap of duck tape no less.

  12. xear June 4, 2023 at 2:41 am #

    I love this building. Not only is it a perfect representation of our times, but after the next long overdue earthquake, no problem.

    I can envision “the wrapper” painted “day-glo red” with a nose ring and black tatoo saying, “We respect pronouns.”

    Or, “We don’t know what a woman is, we’re not biologists.”

  13. tucsonspur June 4, 2023 at 4:00 am #

    ‘The organizational incoherence appears to be a steel and glass analog for mental illness. Well then, it is very much a thing Of Our Time.’

    ‘Organizational incoherence’, how wonderfully put!

    Wow is right! This is a tough one. What can one possibly say about it? That it’s a new fangl…., I mean a new mangled design? It’s just about indescribably ugly! I simply can’t wrap my head around it.

    One wants some giant device to hook onto those tabs and drag the hideous building away to demolition. The structure towers over its neighbors and to the dismay of millions Moss said, ‘You can see it from damn near anywhere’.

    An earthquake comes to mind, but there are things called seismic base isolators that are supposed to save it. Well, it was worth a thought, I guess.

    It amazes me that something like this could be built at all. What kind of egos can create and actually build such atrocities? What’s up with the zoning people and the city planners, various approval boards, etc.?

    A truly abominable assault on architectural aesthetics.

  14. Nigel Tufnel June 4, 2023 at 12:15 pm #

    To paraphrase the 19th century Book of Common Prayer and Thomas Aquinas, this building is an “outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual disease.”

    On top of being blatantly ugly, any building with reflective windows is a bird killer. Hopefully the outer decoration will be enough to scare them away before they hit the windows and die.

  15. DaveO907 June 4, 2023 at 3:07 pm #

    I had to wait twelve hours to fully articulate my comment. A simple “Ewww!” might otherwise suffice, but I think this is more than that simple epithet.
    Rather, I see a fibrous, cancerous growth, the same one that marks the decline of human progress in this longest hour of retrograde confusion in what might otherwise be deemed human progress.
    This is a torture, an engulfing, a suffocating overwhelming of nature’s natural order, and it is fitting that CAD is the perpetrator for it shows us in no uncertain terms that it is a mechanistic spawn of the god of technology, not of that higher purpose toward goodness, withal “Love.”

    So this is the path. It is starkly foreboding in the ugliness it illustrates.


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  16. JackStraw June 5, 2023 at 4:08 pm #

    Request to ChatGPT: Design a building that reflects the coherence, symmetry, and forward thinking of our progressive California government.

  17. Chris at Fernglade Farm June 7, 2023 at 3:51 am #

    Hi Jim,

    It’s good that someone else confirmed my thoughts that the external wrapping were escape stairs. They look like that, and you’d hope nobody jumped from them. I do wonder how the external concrete work handles water drainage and that the treads aren’t slippery being out in the rain and all. Makes you wonder about how the treads would wear over time. Generally there is a reason such infrastructure sits inside a building. Seems like an awful lot of work, and you’d hope that the chunks of concrete are firmly attached.



  18. JW June 8, 2023 at 12:51 pm #

    It appears to be a product of mental illness…

  19. jeff2002 June 9, 2023 at 9:25 am #

    The pattern of the outside “tabs” in the middle two photos does suggest a stairwell sort of function. The difference, of course, is that stairwells are usually located inside a building, rather than placed on the outside like disemboweled intestines. If that IS a stairwell, it looks like a harrowing journey.

  20. KappaJoe June 9, 2023 at 5:00 pm #

    Looks like it is (barely) held together with rubber bands, staples, and c-clamps. A disordered product of a disordered mind of an increasingly disordered society.

    One feels sorry for those who built it and, much more, those obligated to daily work within.

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    • Dr. Coyote June 9, 2023 at 10:42 pm #

      The wraps of various materials seemingly keep the occupants from escaping, like air from a leaky duck taped soccer ball.

  21. Yirgach June 10, 2023 at 9:48 am #

    During the late 60’s when I was in engineering school we used a program called STRUDL for evaluating a the response of a building frame design to earthquakes. This thing was written in FORTRAN at Cal Tech. All input was done by paper punch cards, all output was printed.

    The program would take a frame design and “shake it” in order to see if any harmonics developed. By varying the strength and duration of the shake you could eventually get to the point where the structure would fail.

    Nowadays the program has evolved into variants like X-STRUDL or GT_STRUDL, very sophisticated and also very dangerous. Think of all the companies which went broke from blindly following the results of a spreadsheet which no one understood how it worked. Some of the recent spectacular building failures are probably related to the use of this kind of stuff.

    I can certainly appreciate the allure of CAD, but giving a tool like this to anyone with no appreciation of form or engineering judgment is asking for trouble…

    • Yirgach June 10, 2023 at 4:18 pm #

      Another proud edifice designed and built by the “Because We Can” school of Architectural and Engineering Disaster.

    • BackRowHeckler June 27, 2023 at 5:14 pm #

      We need to get the Millenial Tower on here … before it topples over and wipes out the thousands of vagrants living on the streets of San Francisco … as well as the billionaires living precariously inside of it. I’m reading the plumbing no longer works, elevator tunnels are twisted, stairwells are cracked. At this point its not gonna take a full scale earthquake to bring that sucker down, just a little tremor.

  22. Opie June 24, 2023 at 4:35 pm #

    Looks like an S&M Convention Center.

  23. Ishabaka June 30, 2023 at 12:06 pm #

    If they’d just left off the wrapping crap it would have been a nondescript modern office building, but it wouldn’t be awful. They really, really wanted it to be awful, and they spent a lot of extra money making it so.


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