Friday, November 08, 2002

Architecture Watch
The downside of magnificent architecture--when form leaves function in its dust--in this letter to the editor in response to a Sept. article on Frank Gehry and "The Bilbao Effect" in the Atlantic:

Bilbao GuggenheimMuseums in particular are subject to egregious silliness when it comes to the design of new buildings, additions, alterations, and so forth. This is true for two reasons: architects are usually given carte blanche to do what they want, regardless of what is needed, and people who know absolutely nothing about museums think these unique institutions can serve purposes for which they are totally unsuited. ... The East Wing of the National Gallery, in Washington, D.C., provides an excellent example. It is a cold, banal waste of space, with exhibits relegated to obscure corners. ... For many current architects of museums, the buildings are more important than what will be seen in them. To make matters worse, the public is given an even lower priority than the contents. Visitors are made to trudge though empty and unattractive spaces, up and down stairs and ramps, while seeking exhibitions, bathrooms, elevators, and exits.
-Steven H. Miller, Morris Museum, Morristown, N. J.

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