When you take the Boston skyline as a whole, it's depressing. There was a whole generation of dumb boxes that look like the upended packing crates the real buildings were shipped in. After that came a generation of jokey so-called Post-Modernist buildings, such as International Place, by architect Philip Johnson, which is gift-wrapped in a skin of paste-on Palladian windows. Tired wit replaced genuine innovation. Johnson wasn't even trying. To be fair, it didn't happen only in Boston. Most American cities went through the same phases. But a place like Los Angeles spawned a lot more invention than Boston. Maybe that's because there's no context there. Designers feel more free from constraint. LA is the exception, though. Compared with places like Europe and Asia, we in the United States are a timid culture architecturally.
Fed up with concrete "boxes'' being added to Chicago's storied skyline, Mayor Daley and city planners are laying down the law to developers and architects of high-rise buildings: Come up with better designs. Surprise us. Challenge us. Just don't bore us. ... "Instead of just plain old boxes, we want something different,'' Daley said Friday. "Developers better realize that. Also, the public wants it, as well.''
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