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David Watkin
Something to Love Among the Ruins « Back to Story
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That unitalicized 'and' in Watkin's bio makes it looks like he's written one book with a long title. In fact, 'The Roman Forum' is quite separate from the Quinlan Terry monograph. When you're praising the classical tradition, you should get your italics right.
Great article. There is hope that the concrete garden era is in decline, at least one some small corners in England.
Pull down all the modernist junk (remembering that not not all of modernism is junk) and replace with classical buildings. Leave only the VERY best of the modernist buildings .... Sydney Opera House, that level.
Finally an article after my own heart. My father was an architect from Argentina schooled in "Bauhaus"which was a socialist group of the turn of the last century. It was the 'peoples' modernism. The thorough contempt for classical themes was rejected so completely that no wonder that what we're left with is flat-flat-flat strip malls and glass towers.
What do you think of this?
great article thanks
jim haas
Great article! The Three Classicists exhibition was great!
"young genii designing concrete, steel and glass at funny angles with curved roofs"
Curved roofs can be funny, indeed. Funny as in peculiar, and I noticed with some glee earlier this year in Europe that one such, less than ten years old and nauseating to behold, had collapsed. It adorned a clean, rather inconspicuous cube of a company head office, of some three floors, so the creative genius could possibly only be applied at the very top. At least it has provided an opportunity to raise the structure by another floor, and I am in suspense what the new roof is going to be. I do not trepidate, though.
Having endured postmodernist bullying at the University of Adelaide School of Architecture, this article was a pleasure to read.
The curious arrogance of the academic staff there was, I finally realized, due to an adolescent preoccupation that the chief role of the artchitect was to challenge preconceptions i.e. to be a trail blazer, much in the mould of a pop star. The idea was to be a genius. It all revolved around the architect's ego, not the design of the structure.

We students were informed at the introductory lecture that the architect "paints on the greatest canvas of mankind", among other pomposities.
I was witnessing first hand where architecture had gone off the rails.

When I suggested that the architect might be here to serve, and that function and beauty might be be worthy goals, I was shunned as a cro-magnon.
As the years passed, guess what? The whole school was peopled with hordes of young genii designing concrete, steel and glass at funny angles with curved roofs, that would not only be difficult to build, they all looked as if they were designed by the same person!
This is not to deny that fine examples of modern and post modern architecture exist, just a plea that all forms of architectural expression remain valid and valued, and not be subject to denial and ridicule by a new elite, particularly one which surfaced in a rather adolescent and self-promoting period.
Wonderful article. Thanks so much.
arch. Dorin Boila, Ro. August 30, 2010 at 5:29 AM
Thank you for this text. I agree with the ideas of the author; the "contemporary progressists" in architecture are just playing a lower down game, and so selfish...
arch. Dorin Boila, Ro.
At Last! Hooray!
Excellent article... thanks, David! It's interesting that the first long generation of New Urbanists and New Classicists arose after a long period of self-education that began with the realization that the academy had ill-prepared them to design anything that the non-architects would love. The early years of this self-education (mine began somewhat before graduation in 1983) could, for many of us, be characterized as floundering around in the dark, not quite sure what we were looking for, where to find it, or if it even still existed. Now, however, a generation is arising that has been educated at the Prince's Foundation, Notre Dame, Miami, Andrews, etc., and their introduction to these things has occurred largely through instruction instead of self-exploration. I wonder how the character of the work we do might change as a result?
FWIW, here's a short story of the beginning of my own awakening, and the mystery in which so many things were shrouded during those years: