From: Randolph Fritz <randolph@xxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 31 Jan 1995 23:58:23 -0800
I haven't seen them before in my limited studies; I'd like to know what
1. Often people read objects as if they were human body parts; columns
"stand", tables have "legs", lintels "lie" across their supports, trees
have "limbs", and so forth. (Today I saw a charming funny sculpture at the
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco: a bunch of furniture
climbing out of the building, table legs articulated as, well, legs. Big
thing--visible from 50? 100? feet away.) I have the strong sense that
objects which cannot be read in this way are often read as "inhuman."
2. Much architecture, maybe all architecture, consists of mediating between
human contexts and larger contexts: natural, formal, urban. Most
obviously, churches connect the individual human with the vast spiritual.
Less obviously an urban house creates a humanized place in the context of
the city, the plains farmhouse creates warmth and comfort in the vastness
of the plains, and so on. Perhaps part of the perceived "coldness" of
modernist designs is the way in which the formal structure is pushed right
into the human context. Welcome to the machine. Computer design,
curiously, goes just the other way--great pains are taken to master the
impossibly complex abstractions of complex software easy to master.
3. One of the defining characteristics of late 20th-century US architecture
appears to be the enclosed public space. John Portman's Hyatts are
certainly the obvious examples; the enclosed shopping mall is, too. This
may be an instance of the kind of mediation I mentioned in (2), extended to
two levels; the vast atrium mediates the relation with the city outside and
in turn contains rooms, which are at human scale.