Saturday, March 07, 2009

What Our Fathers Built

I think anyone who's read this blog for a while knows how I feel about the architecture and design since the end of WWII. Pretty much it stinks.

Consider the Army Chapel. In the 1940s, during WWII the Army built "temporary" chapels made of hand fitted pine, cedar, and poplar. They are are beautiful little buildings, and are, many of them, still in service. And there is the the main post office of San Jose, built in the 1930s. It is beautiful. And consider train stations built in the past: Union Station in Washington D.C., Grand Central Terminal in New York, Penn Station in Newark (home of one of the most gorgeous men's lavatory I've ever seen: all granite, marble, and brass.) It used to be that even factories were works of art. Ghirardilli Square was a chocolate factory before it was turned into condominiums and an outdoor mall. Old factories are so beautiful and well made that they are being re-fitted as residential buildings all over America. But new buldings? Will anyone want them in 30 years? I've seen recently bulit train stains, post offices, and factories, I think the answer is probably "no".

Today, according to the a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, we have a 20% chance of slipping into another depression. Which means labor should be cheep enough to build like our fathers built. But will we do it? Will we build for our progeny? I don't think so.

The President's economic relief strategy seems to be focusing on income guarantees such as prolonging unemployment benefits, instead of building beautiful and useful things.

The L.A. times presents a video of some of the beautiful things that were built in the depression. I wish our current leaders had the foresight our fathers had.

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