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Behold the Helix,  Amazon’s new East Coast headquarters proposed for Arlington, Virginia, across the river from that great National Swamp of grift and favors known as the District of Columbia. You know what’s going on here, right? Trick question — it’s surely not what you thought. Permit me to explain:

In America, you see, we are now so terminally disgusted and deranged by Modernist architecture, that we all semi-consciously agree that the only satisfactory antidote to it is “Nature.” Which means — architects, listen up! —  that we’ve given up on architecture per se and altogether. So… to get through the permitting process — planning and zoning boards and all — the developer has to pretend that what he wants to hoist up is not a building, really, but a Nature Installation (yes, caps). Get it now? Conveniently, this fits but exactly with the latest moral pretense programming (i.e. virtue-signaling) of the super-wealthy class who commission these things: “We’re green!” they boast.

This is complete horseshit, of course. Let us count the ways: They’re not creating anything like a real new ecosystem, just a super-high-tech planting box that requires fantastically unnatural amounts of maintenance. The embedded energy squandered in the building’s infrastructure negates (and then some) any conceivable benefit of hanging green stuff from it. Oh, and by the way, office towers have gone obsolete since Coronavirus demonstrated to companies that employees might as well just work from home.

Of course, these vanity projects have to get their permits far in advance of construction, so this confection no doubt got its approvals before the virus screwed the pooch on this kind of real estate.

“This isn’t just about work. It’s about how you interact with your community,” said architect Dale Alberda, a principal of the firm that designed the Helix, NBBJ.

That’s horseshit  too, of course. There’s no “community” there. It’s just another office park, full of buildings that are now equally obsolete — assets-turned-liabilities, almost overnight! The Helix is a perch for Amazon’s big bird, Jeff Bezos, to hose congress members, Senators, and federal regulators, and to keep tabs on one of his crown jewels, the Narrative bullhorn known as The Washington Post.

Okay, so, you probably did realize that the Helix is an obvious mash-up of those two Biblical humdingers: the Tower of Babel and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. All too true. We’re Babylon Release 2.0, you realize…  a nation become so corrupt and degenerate that the curtain is coming down on the show. Alas, Babylon…alas us….


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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.

18 Responses to “March 2021” Subscribe

  1. tom clark March 2, 2021 at 4:21 pm #

    The fact that it looks like a screw was not lost on this old geezer.

  2. olmec March 2, 2021 at 7:58 pm #

    Looks like a giant permaculture herb spiral, they have successfully packed a lot of edge into a small footprint.
    All part of the collective wishful thinking that if we just plant a few vegetables and trees we can offset all the bad behaviours and save the world – our green eco-utopia.

  3. JW March 2, 2021 at 8:17 pm #

    Once you see it as the poop emoji its hard to unsee it…

    • reltsnuk2 March 6, 2021 at 5:59 am #

      My thought exactly. When I saw it, I was, like: “Whoa, that’s a vertically-stretched pile of poop!”.

  4. dowd March 3, 2021 at 5:34 am #

    Yes, a reprise of the Hanging Garden in the new Babylon (Washington, D.C.) with Jeff Bezos envisioning himself as today’s King Nebuchadnezzar II set to establish the New World Order where eventually the anti-Christ will reign and be defeated by a new King Cyrus. Nowadays everything is so very Biblical.

  5. Chris at Fernglade Farm March 3, 2021 at 6:06 am #

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks again for keeping it real. 🙂

    After a good hard look at that building, I couldn’t quite work out how such large trees would grow in such limited soil. Maybe it’s just me and you know, there are some pretty huge trees growing all around down here about the farm, but yeah, those trees will possibly blow over – unless they are anchored in some way I can’t quite figure out.

    Then I got to thinking that very few people in urban areas own chainsaws or cross cut saws. So when the trees do possibly blow over well, nobody local will know what to do with the resulting mess.

    And all those people milling around the outside of the building might want to keep a sharp eye out for falling branches from a height. Hope those guys have good insurance. It all seems like a good idea into one of those huge branches squashes your head.

    Not my circus.

    Cheers

    Chris

  6. Chippenhook March 3, 2021 at 6:52 am #

    Reminds me of to top of a soft serve ice cream cone.

  7. Loneranger March 3, 2021 at 9:01 am #

    You could always recycle it as the HQ for Dairy Queen.

  8. tucsonspur March 3, 2021 at 4:00 pm #

    Disregarding the Helix’s impracticality, and considering its neighboring bland, boxy behemoths, this creation of curves is like a delightful, refreshing custard, sprinkled with mint leaves. It could be downsized into smaller structures of pastel colored glass, dotting urban street corners with cheerful slurpee shacks, but better use some SentryGlas there.

    Clear some mint leaves, and people could glissade down the glass from the somewhat whimsical curlicue topping this custard, perhaps Bezos himself, a gleeful reminder of how Amazon was allowed to slide on taxes.

    No, slight nods to Nature and gratuitous gifts to Gaia just ain’t gonna cut it, as we approach the Die-Centennial and Mother Earth recoils further and further from her spoiled, rapacious children.

    The architects seem to have gotten flustered by this custard. Maybe they were thinking of something like a glass conch shell or a chambered nautilus, playing with involutes and evolutes while devouring Frostee Freeze sundaes and getting their brains iced.

  9. bymitch March 4, 2021 at 11:02 pm #

    Well it aint no Guggenheim thats for sure.
    The simplicity that is the helix model in nature, twisted into a double entendre, of green and exploratory space moments.
    My eyes can cope, it’s my head that’s sore, trying to comprehend how this all came about.
    It is difficult to read, buried under all that unnecessary foliage, but maybe that’s the whole point.
    Sophisticated elegance not high on the agenda perhaps

  10. JCalvertNUK March 5, 2021 at 12:32 pm #

    Did Bezool-bubba and his tame architect ever study biology?

    Do they think those trees will benevolently take in tons of ‘nasty’ CO2 and magically convert it into tons ‘nice kind’ oxygen without gaining weight?

    As those trees absorb the C out of CO2, they are going to get very heavy!!

  11. bymitch March 5, 2021 at 3:18 pm #

    And ‘tree hugger’ is a derogatory term that such a literal portrayal is offensive to say the least

  12. KappaJoe March 5, 2021 at 4:11 pm #

    Perhaps Nimrod and his people would have found more favor with God if only they had added trees to their blasphemous tower. Instead, their language was made confused, and they scattered to the four corners of the world.

    There’s a lesson in mudslides there somewhere in the event of a decent downpour, unless the trees and soil are all fake, which they just might be.
    These days it is commonly accepted that appearing green (virtue signaling) is far more important than actually being green. As Kermit-the-Frog has long attested, it’s not easy being green.

  13. JCalvertNUK March 6, 2021 at 1:06 pm #

    Planning for failure.
    Frank Lloyd Wright is claimed to have said, “Doctors can bury their mistakes. Architects can only advise their clients to plant trees.” (Or was it “vines”?)
    This architect has planted trees pre-emptively .

  14. albertsmith March 16, 2021 at 5:31 am #

    Very interesting blog.

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  15. Ishabaka March 19, 2021 at 12:19 pm #

    An enormous “Screw you” from our seat of government – how appropriate.

  16. lateStarter March 24, 2021 at 1:23 pm #

    New suggestion for next month from Poland: https://www.reddit.com/r/evilbuildings/comments/mbbcde/gdansk_shakespeare_theatre/

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