Thursday, November 20, 2003

Gack, II.

Via David Sucher I see one of the dumbest looking buildings ever designed. The idea is a stack of boxes, each one slightly offset, and with no windows. If they paint really big letters and numbers on each face, the thing would look like something my 4-year-old would make from blocks. I like nifty-looking buildings, but sometimes we have to step back and wonder if we really want our cityscapes to look like games of Jenga "in progress".

One of David's commenters wonders if the people who complain about no windows (and I definitely think that all those featureless facades look pretty dumb) would be OK with it if the builders painted or glued on fake windows. Probably not. In the town where I used to live, some old buildings were demolished in favor of a new CVS drugstore in the downtown section, one of those shoebox-shaped drug stores like Eckerd's. Problem was, with that building design, the front door goes on the "short end" of the shoebox, but the lot did not extend back from the street enough to allow them to build that design such that the door would face the street, so they simply built it "the long way", with the door on the "side" and the store's featureless wall lining the street. The brilliant solution the company came up with was precisely to glue, nail and staple up fake windows and doors and awnings. The result was one of the dumbest looking buildings I've ever seen, and each time I drove by it I would think of that scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when King Arthur and the boys are admiring Camelot from a distance, and the pack-mule guy mutters, "It's only a model".

David also makes the point, in another post, that wind farms are actually beautiful things. I agree. My wife's grandmother lives in the midst of a very big windfarm in northwestern Iowa, and on our last visit I found them profoundly lovely -- especially on one foggy morning when those slowly-turning turbines looked, from a distance, like some kind of giants on a lonely moor. Also, people who complain about the droning sound of a windfarm are just plain wrong. We actually went and stood underneath a turbine that was rotating at a pretty decent rate, and the drone was actually softer than that of the normal buzz of the autumn locusts.

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