You And Whose Army?

Come on,
Come on
You think you’ll
Drive me crazy, well

Come on,
Come on.
You and whose
Army?
You and your
Cronies?

Come on,
Come on
Holy Roman Empire
Come on if you think
Come on if you think
You can take us
On.

You and whose army?
You and your cronies?

-Radiohead, Amnesiac, “You And Whose Army?”

This would be another New York planning decision I’m ambivalent about: the Tour de Verre, a supertall addition to the Museum of Modern Art which has been both celebrated as “daring” and protested by its neighbors since its announcement, is getting significantly truncated.

On the one hand, I don’t see what the problem is with another supertall in midtown Manhattan. On the other, it reminds me very much of a stylized hand giving the finger, or otherwise making one of a number of other obscene hand gestures. But on the third(?) hand, a lot of people had that fantasy after 9/11. And on the fourth – wait, what, are we monkeys? – there’s probably a reason it remained a (rather boorish and amateurish, if highly popular) fantasy to begin with.

And let’s not kid ourselves: pretty much the only socially-acceptable reason to approve a building that looks like this is as a response piece to Nyneleven, which many people will read this as even if it wasn’t intended as such. But is that enough?

As has been mentioned before by commenters here, highly topical and emotional architectural whimsy is cathartic in the moment, but creates a statement, an opinion, a joke or a gag that will be effectively locked in time for decades or even centuries. Moreso than most designers, architects need to reflect on the relative permanence of their designs on the landscape and what they will mean in a generation.

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~ by J.D. Hammond on September 11, 2009.

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