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Behold the Universita Luigi Bocconi, School of Economics, Milan, Italy by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, principals of Grafton Architects, Dublin, Ireland, winners of this year’s Pritzker prize. The Pritzker is considered the most prestigious prize in the architectural world. The Pritzker committee is crazy for Orwellian dystopias, and this one does it all: the despotic blank walls enfronting the street, the fortress-like parti, the bureaucratic esprit! Note especially that the design expresses absolutely no elements of femininity — no curves, no ornament, no ‘grace notes.’

You go, girls!

Below are shots of the team’s other projects. Dreariness abides!


Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Trinity College, Dublin


Loreto Community School – Milford, Co. Donegal, Ireland


President’s House, University of Limerick, Ireland

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.

27 Responses to “March 2020”

  1. djk March 4, 2020 at 12:15 pm #

    These buildings suck

  2. BackRowHeckler March 4, 2020 at 12:19 pm #

    Lot of right angles there.

  3. BackRowHeckler March 4, 2020 at 12:21 pm #

    Don’t know anything about architecture but is it possible those sorts of structures are less costly to build, and that’s a factor?

    • DrTomSchmidt March 23, 2020 at 12:18 pm #

      There’s a book called Here’s the Deal that talks about why the International Style became so popular in Chicago after WW2. Sure, we wanted to be modern, but if you could get people to accept a crappy, brick-work free glass box,, you could build them much more quickly (important when economies flip on a dime) and cheaply. The fact that the operating costs were higher, especially because of increased heating and cooling, did not matter to the quick-buck developers. The
      Thompson Center in Chicago was famously uninhabitable because it was so swelteringly hot in the summer.

  4. JohnAZ March 4, 2020 at 12:23 pm #

    Oh boy.

    If this is not a statement of the effect the computer has had on the aesthetics of taste in humanity. These buildings are flat, featureless, probably in an attempt to save .01% percent heat or cooling loss.

    Observe the same meaningless flat effect on all the arts. When Star Wars becomes THE cultural icon of the cinema arts, well.

    • JohnAZ March 4, 2020 at 12:24 pm #

      I would hate to work in a building like this.

    • DrTomSchmidt March 23, 2020 at 12:20 pm #

      They generally DONT save heating and cooling, JohnAZ.

      Even in AZ, you could build buildings to be comfortable without AC, if making proper use of thermal mass. But that requires thought and planning, not something that can survive a Fed-induced planning cycle.

  5. Patriot March 4, 2020 at 12:31 pm #

    Gargoyles…not enough gargoyles

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    • par4 March 4, 2020 at 1:16 pm #

      up vote!

    • mjlb May 19, 2020 at 4:53 pm #

      another upvote!

  6. goat1001 March 4, 2020 at 1:16 pm #

    I prefer the architecture of Greece circa 55 BC to these banal piles of crap. Of course, the powers that be consider Greek architecture or any architecture more than 100 years old obsolete. They prefer cookie cutter computer generated imagery – both virtual and real. Oh, yes and it’s cheaper to build… You get what you pay for.

  7. tom clark March 4, 2020 at 4:58 pm #

    The clouds behind the building are pretty.

  8. tucsonspur March 5, 2020 at 2:36 am #

    A far cry from the old Irish stone houses and quaint, rustic cottages.
    A monster in the midst of Milan, and a mockery of its ranking as a world center of fashion and design.

    With Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” located in Milan at the Santa Maria Della Gracie, it is easy to think of this fortress serving final meals to the forlorn.

    Kind of a cranky form of 3D Cubism with a mortifying militancy.
    The ‘dismal science’ to be studied in a dismal building, the building itself seeming to contain ‘the root of all evil’.

  9. jeff2002 March 5, 2020 at 12:44 pm #

    That building looks like it was lifted straight out of Blade Runner 2049. It needs only rain and dark of night. Don’t worry about the androids–this structure will produce its own in good time.

  10. AKlein March 6, 2020 at 9:55 am #

    Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate.

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  11. neon sky March 6, 2020 at 9:57 am #

    If you had said that it’s a prison instead of a School of Economics (!), I would would have believed you. Because that’s what it looks like.

    • DrTomSchmidt March 23, 2020 at 12:21 pm #

      The economists deserve it, though.

  12. elliot r March 6, 2020 at 11:33 pm #

    when arson becomes patriotism

  13. Ishabaka March 9, 2020 at 9:43 am #

    For sheer dedication and devotion to the utter absence of any beauty, I think this tops all the structures on this site up til now.

  14. SvrzoH March 9, 2020 at 11:06 am #

    Disclaimer first: Jim is in 99% cases spot on with “eyesore” label.
    Not with this one.
    String of comments reveals lovers of anachronism and lack of understanding that today’s building materials and methods can only produce pastiche-like architecture, of your apparent preference, like that find in Las Vegas.
    In case of historical building preservation, or new special request custom residence where time and money is no issue, job site is in awash with pallets and pallets of brick and crates of stone to be carved.

    • JCalvertNUK March 18, 2020 at 1:55 pm #

      The style is itself anachronistic. It’s been 100 years since Gropius and the Bauhaus. And yet this building could have come straight out of that era.
      At least the Bauhaus architects’ buildings looked outward, with windows facing the street.
      This one has no windows facing the street. They all face inwards.
      So, here we have an inwards-looking university building. In that respect this building is perfectly symbolic.

  15. SvrzoH March 23, 2020 at 4:51 pm #

    My post was response to string of architectural battle cries for the Classic Greek, Jefferson’s civic building look-alike, XIX Century American small town architecture of cornices and moldings….
    Today’s building materials and methods, together of new way of design expression of it, is the key phrase to be taken into the account before judging modern architecture – which also includes bit of an squired taste.
    What’s wrong with University building windows that are facing inwards?

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  16. minecraftclassic May 8, 2020 at 4:02 am #

    The design expresses absolutely no elements of femininity — no curves, no ornament, no ‘grace notes.’ minecraft classic

  17. bailorjones December 21, 2020 at 1:18 pm #

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