architecture is different


We can happily live with disagreements of taste when it comes to art, or poetry, or music. I listen to Abba on my iPod, you listen to Brahms on yours, and everybody’s content. But architecture is different. If I build a Zaha Hadid deconstructed-boomerang house across the street from your mock-Tudor raised ranch, you’re going to have to look at it whether you want to or not. And if Donald Trump pulls down a few 19th-century brownstones to put up the 110-story gilded-glass Trump Basilisk, we’re all going to have to look at it, even if it kills us.

It is because architecture is an essentially public art that we need some shared sense of architectural value. Do we want to live amid the rationally ordered boulevards of Paris, or the complexity and contradiction of the Vegas Strip? Is less more, or a bore? Will a new museum in the form of a gigantic titanium-clad blob transform our backwater hometown into an exciting cultural capital? Can the right sort of architecture even improve our character?

more from the Ny Times Book Review here.