FORM FOLLOWS FIASCO: Why Modern Architecture Hasn't Worked by Peter Blake

FORM FOLLOWS FIASCO: Why Modern Architecture Hasn't Worked

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Why is Peter Blake shaking a fist at Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and other dead masters of the once-""Modern Movement""? Who today will argue that the functionalist aesthetic yielded such decidedly unfunctional results as antiseptic Brasilia and--at more removes--impoverished Pruitt-Igoe? In his disenchantment with open-plan offices and open-plan homes, with machine-made building materials that don't stand up like stone or brick, with heat-transmitting glass facades and windswept plazas, he fails to discriminate between ideal and application--or to balance the egregious failures with the recognized successes. Apropos of city planning he is on firmer if well-trodden ground: yes, a vista is no substitute for a street (though one needn't juxtapose a 1925 architectural rendering with a photo of busy Disney World to prove it), and the intimate and variegated (and old) has a charm that the massive and uniform (and new) can't match. He has a good case against single-use zoning, against the skyscraper that destroys its surroundings; but his saturation bombing will appeal most to those perennial anti-modernists who'd be happiest in a world reconstructed in the image of Williamsburg--or, for that matter, Walt Disney World.

Pub Date: June 16th, 1977
Publisher: Atlantic/Little, Brown