WASTELAND: Building the American Dream by Stephen A. Kurtz

WASTELAND: Building the American Dream

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Architecture, Kurtz insists, cannot be separated from morality -- buildings acquire their meaning ""through the interaction of people"" and a people can be judged by the structures that they build. Our urban and suburban wastelands -- our Levittowns and Lincoln Centers, freeways and parking lots, World Trade Centers and high-rise apartment blocks -- are signs of inner vacuity; in Las Vegas ""Death may at last have found his Dominion"" (this a rebuttal of Venturi's celebration), and ""As long as there's a Howard Johnson's there will never be a revolution."" Like oases in the desert, there are scattered attempts at building ""intentional communities"" -- he cites an artists' collective in which each family builds its own house out of sight of all the others, a New York Tenants' Cooperative, a People's Park in Boston and a community-developed complex in Chicago -- but mainly silence is the watchword, the best designs ""are those which aren't built."" A new architecture will only follow the Revolution, which in turn requires ""the spiritual rebirth of every man"" so we're not about to see the New Jerusalem in our lifetime. Salvation, Kurtz claims, must be individual, but how can those of us who aren't in the free professions, have no knack for home construction and no money to buy antiques, build the American dream? But then, Kurtz is not practical, only scathingly provocative.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1973
Publisher: Praeger