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Eyesore March 14_B
     Behold the new Health Center on Russell Street in Missoula, Montana — a demonstration that Murphy’s Law rules absolutely in American architecture and town planning. This is the back of the building; the front is oriented to the interior of the block where the parking is (don’t expect Happy Motoring to continue ten years from now). It’s a little hard to see here, but all the HVAC blowers face the narrow sidewalk where hypothetical pedestrians will get hot blasts of locker room exhaust as they journey down the street. The chief tenet of modernism still prevails: justify cheap shortcuts, bad proportioning, absence of ornament, and shoddy construction with ideological minimalism. Note the attempt to make the giant box appear to be be composed of separate smaller buildings. Note the crappy horizontal windows. Note the weak gestural brackets along the cornice. This culture is incapable of doing better work. We became a third-rate nation before we became Third World.
     Thanks to John Wolverton for the submission.
     Some of his comments: “The original exhaust nozzles looked like jet engines; but we complained (about the whole ugly thing) and they hopped into action by replacing the nozzles with some-type louvered vent… likely to more efficiently direct the blast at the pedestrians. Oh, and they’ll be planting some nice shrubs around the electric box and gas meter.”

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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.

5 Responses to “March 2014”

  1. swhite March 4, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    It also looks like there is a chain-link fence on the left, and no doors on the street side, which could mean that if you were across the street an wanted to go into that building, you would have to walk who-know-how-far around the building to find a door. It also looks like there is no parking allowed on the street. Maybe I am reading too much into it; maybe it all is still under construction. But the first glance suggests a level of user-friendliness that is depressing for a medical building that one might want to get into quickly and easily, maybe while carrying a sick kid.

    I find it interesting that I did not immediately think “eyesore” until some of the finer architectural points were explained. I wonder if that means that this is what I have come to expect, and what we all have come to expect, and now we can’t imagine (and therefore design) anything better.

    • James Kuehl March 6, 2014 at 6:12 am #

      Thanks for reminding us how easy it is to slip into complacency. The illusion of quality in the public square is just that, and forums like this keep us all on our toes. I’ll promise not to settle for this junk without speaking out if you all will, too.

  2. cable guy March 5, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

    Worse than 3rd world, we’re 3rd rate! LOL

  3. edward4432 October 20, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

    What’s wrong with whimsy?

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