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Hey, who left that stack of Fed-Ex boxes in the middle of downtown Vancouver? Wait a minute… that’s the proposed new Vancouver art museum designed by Swiss starchitects Herzog & de Meuron. Anyone who’s been through the Vancouver Airport knows that they are very into the “environmental look” there. In the building trades, that means lots of wood, because wood is “organic” and “natural.” It is of nature, and therefore stands for nature in the center of the horrible mechanistic city, with all its baleful glass-skinned boxes. Note, also, the miniature British Columbian forest around the base, a totemistic exercise to ward off the encroaching anti-nature of the surrounding city. The darn thing looks a bit top-heavy, though, as if the top three boxes are supported by stacked levels of…playing cards! Lots of theoretical people in the rendering, enjoying the “green space.” Experience actually suggests that public places enfronted by multi-laned motoring corridors will probably be shunned by casual droppers-by. Modernism lives… until the long emergency drives a stake through its snooty heart.

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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.

13 Responses to “October 2015”

  1. jayrome October 5, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

    Here we go again blowing green smoke up our wazoo! Maybe some planters on all the terraces with VINES growing down to camo the structure with more Nature.
    And they pay these guys real money? or just fiat.
    You know with all that wood it would be a wonderful display of Nature in action with having a TERMITE FARM concept for all to observe. Woo Hoo!

  2. malthuss October 6, 2015 at 1:52 am #

    that pic is funny.

    that is soooo ugly.

  3. ejhr October 6, 2015 at 7:19 am #

    Modern Architecture today is just a manifestation of the consumptive excesses we usually see with end-of-civilization times. What do we see? Shopping malls, art galleries, theatres and sports stadiums, travel – all catering to leisure for the baby boomers now retiring at 10,000 per day [USA] We are in that stage now. It began in about 1971 [just after the peak of the moon shot] with the end of commodity money [Nixon] and overshoot into unsustainability regarding resources.

    We are never going to come out of this decline. Deflation now will never reverse. Resources are just not there at energy cheap extraction processes to fuel any more booms.

    The Titanic has hit the iceberg so we listen while the bands plays on.
    There are no plans to defer Nature’s deadly wake up call. It wouldn’t stop the destruction, but it could stay the advent of chaos for a while.
    Pollies don’t want to know bad news. It would spoil their election chances. So they will never make plans until too late.

  4. AKlein October 6, 2015 at 9:48 am #

    The architects of this execrable pile are presumably adults? Frankly, it looks like a random accretion of boxes, just as JHK opines. How is this relevant to its use, or edifying in any way to the denizens of the environs? Apparently this does not matter. Which leads naturally to the question, what does matter?

  5. JWoodoff October 8, 2015 at 1:09 pm #

    At least this building can’t be said to degrade the surrounding architectural context, which is already pretty grim.

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  6. Leftbanker October 9, 2015 at 12:09 am #

    Bart Simpson’s tree house was an obvious influence. You have to wonder what this thing will look like in 50 years. Art museums are the new churches: useless structures made to show strength and power. I’d rather they used the funds to build more public restrooms.

  7. eshep October 9, 2015 at 10:38 pm #

    I notice this is the second month in a row cultural facilities have achieved eyesore status.

    Overbuilding in the arts is a force to be reckoned with. But then again, these monstrosities might provide some sweet, fancy shelters in the years to come.


  8. Poet October 12, 2015 at 3:31 pm #

    This thing reminds me of something that a young child with all manner of lego blocks might slap together just to use up all the unmatched pieces to make something. What they have made instead is nothing.

  9. RobRhodes October 15, 2015 at 2:54 am #

    This reminds me of the tourist info centre built in my community. It looks like a giant water tower and is sided with beautiful, clear red cedar but at such a scale that from the road it might as well be brown paint. Williams Lake, BC knew how to built a tourist centre. They combined it with their new city hall, a stunning timber frame with the entrance sided by a pair of about eight foot diameter upright cedar trunks, peeled and finished but their natural shape retained. It is a building one might stop to see even if you had no other business in the town.

  10. Tom October 17, 2015 at 4:35 pm #

    I live in the city. Thank God for the mountains, ocean, and greenery. Without this, there would be few reasons to live here. The architecture is soulless, generic, and generally unsparing. The Mayor was backed by developers, who slapped up dozens of ugly, shoddy hi rise condos with very little public space. The developer-friendly mayor is doing this under the bullshit guise of “eco-density” which in this case amounts to a little more than a soulless bunch of condos, where Chinese launder their money.

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  11. NorthernOutsider October 18, 2015 at 11:37 pm #

    Actually they current VAG is on a very busy street and sees lots of people hanging out on the stairs in front -It’s the old city courthouse and it does not need replacing – certainly not by this ugly monstrosity.

  12. mjlb March 5, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

    Maybe it’s the quality of the rendering, and it will look different when built, but it floats my boat. To me, it looks delicate and ethereal, which is difficult to do with solid walls for hanging art. I also like that there is so much open space at street level.

  13. randysutt June 29, 2016 at 2:18 pm #

    Although I agree the design is terrible, and despite the excessive width of Georgia Street, there is actually already a fair amount of pedestrian activity in the area. It is across the street from the popular (if also architecturally questionable) main library and the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and half a block from a busy skytrain station and the downtown campus of the community college.