Thursday, October 15, 2009

And Now for Something Completely Different

Or, the Emperor's New Clothes, Architectural Edition
(caution. I may be swearing in this post)

Columbia University commissioned some architect or another to make a master plan for their campus' extension a few years ago now. I don't know how long ago, or which firm it was, but I'm sure it was a pretty big job. Columbia is in the middle of a large city, in a very diverse neighborhood, surrounded by some truly amazing architectural heritage (including the original campus itself). Creating a master plan for expansion of the campus had to have been somewhat of a nightmare.

Recently (in architectural terms), probably sometime in the past three years or so, Columbia hired Jose Rafael Moneo to design their new "multidisciplinary science tower" an addition on the west side of the campus. Moneo is a Pritzker Prize winner and he admittedly has designed some truly beautiful buildings in the past. My favorite is this one:

It's the Murcia Town Hall (according to Wikipedia).

It's not the most innovative design ever, but I like the use of matierals, I think the facade design really helps set off the gorgeous building to the left, and the color is rather nice.

About the new building on the Columbia campus, the former chair of the art history department at Columbia said: “This had to be great architecture in itself,” he said, designed both to “revitalize that area of the campus” and “integrate with the surrounding communities.”

Right. Great architecture. Click here for a photo of the building. (I can't post it because I don't want to get sued by the New York Times.) And here is a link to the original article in the Times.

I'm sorry peoples, but, this isn't great architecture. It is a GLASS BOX. And integrate with the surrounding communities? BULLSHIT! It's a glass box plunked down in the middle of a bunch of really beautiful beaux-arts buildings from the last century. How the hell does that integrate?

Did I mention that it's a glass box?

Did everybody in the architecture world drink the same Kool-Aid? I'm a bit at a loss. I can't tell you the number of glass boxes I've seen in the past few years that have been lauded as "revolutionary" and "brilliant."

WTF, mate? I just don't bloody well get it. (Can you tell I'm reading a lot of Aussie blogs lately?) I e-mailed my favorite architectural reviewer (Nicholas Ouroussoff in the New York Times, if you must know) and asked him to do a review. I'm hoping that he either savages the damned thing, or at least writes some compelling defense of it, so that even if I don't agree with him one little bit (because I don't think this stupid glass box is defensible), he'll at least make me think.

In actual knitting news

The Damson is now blocking. Here is a photo of that:

A few things about the Damson as it is now:

1. BOY did it ever grow when I washed it. Hoo hah! It got huge.

2. I'm sorry I completely forgot to take a pre-blocking photo of it. Duh.

3. I am a craptacular blocker. Need to work on those skills.

4. It is going to take FOREVER to dry. I really really really want to wear it tomorrow, but that will not be happening.

5. I got to use my blocking wires (hence the two actual straight edges), as they came just in time. I ordered them from Knit Picks back in August, and the stupid things only arrived on Tuesday. Stupid post office. The poor Knit Picks customer service people have been going crazy trying to figure out why I haven't received my wires.

6. Now that I have the blocking wires, I'm going to re-block a whole bunch of other stuff that I blocked and looks crappy because I didn't have nifty blocking wires to make actual straight edges.

Also, got a few more inches done on the Featherweight. But the photos of that will still be amazingly dull. I am, however, very much enjoying the way the increases look on this piece. They are coming together so satisfyingly.

I think I completely drained myself rushing to finish off the Damson the other night. I spent the last 20 rows FREAKING OUT that I was going to run out of yarn. That didn't happen, thankfully. Then I spent what felt like, oh, FOREVER doing the loopy edging on the thing. And while I was doing that, I was FREAKING OUT that I wasn't going to finish. Ever. Obviously I did.

And now that it's blocking (can you believe that it took me nearly two hours to block the stupid thing. And I STILL did a shittay job), I'm FREAKING OUT that it's not going to dry in time. OY.

Anyway, the Featherweight is a little more low maintenance. Instead of knitting like a madwoman today at lunch (seriously, I felt like the Damson was another full-time job. Why do I put pressure on myself like this), I actually took a walk. With a coworker friend. It was nice. She provided some good therapy for me, as I am currently being really effing cranky, and somewhat insane. I think I'm going to have to knit her something.

I also (gasp) didn't knit at home this evening. I blocked the Damson instead.

In other other other news...

Ella cleaned the entire apartment today and it is sparkly and clean and smells nice and wonderful and I can't find anything but I don't care because THE APARTMENT IS CLEAN and I didn't have to do it myself. WOO! Somebody remind me of this the next time I want to strangle her.


  1. The Damson looks lovely! I'm resisting the urge to start another project (specifically a shawl). I've got socks, and two hats plus another request for a hat. I must finish something first! (That's what I keep telling myself.)

  2. ok. (clearing my throat, er..fingers here.)
    First off....having an Interior Design minor in college, I took many architecture classes. DO NOT even get me started on the modern architecture of today...grrrr. Hate it.(and my daddy was an architect and VERY modern in his drawings) Absolutely hate the fact they do not learn anything from artists of the past. That the reason so many historical places have withstood the test of time is because they were built with stone. Thick, sturdy materials that were carved with the greatest precision and skill. Designed with artistic expression that makes most of us teary when we see the ancient works. Modern usually means glass and straight lines. Sorry, but anyone can put a piece of glass on a building that looks like a block. But then, I'm a tradionalist in every sense of the word and I don't appreciate modern art. There's that.
    Secondly, I do not have any type of degree in knitting; therefore, I do not understand the terms you use. And, stupidly.....I can't for the life of me figure out how you're gonna wear the piece you're blocking. Will you plz take a pic of it ON you when you're finished so I can admit my stupidity once again.
    Off my soapbox once again.........!

  3. Jmac... it's a merkin.


    just kidding. it's a shawl. The wide part at the bottom is the back, and the two "arms" will drape over the shoulders.

    Or tie around the back of my neck like a bandana.

  4. ...or a bib. Just jokes, babe.

    And right there with you on the glass buildings. It kills me to visit the Bronx Community College campus. All the beautiful Beaux Arts buildings allowed to crumble...

    Too freaking sad...