December 15, 2009

Extra-Ordinary Buildings

Extra-Ordinary architecture is the opposite of Extraordinary architecture. It is terrible and naughty. In adopting Venturi's definition, Extraordinary (EO) architecture is heroic & original, while Extra-Ordinary (E-O) architecture is ugly & ordinary.

EO vs. E-O:
Homecoming Queen vs.Ugly Duckling
Iconic Buildings vs. Ordinary Buildings (subverting Iconic Buildings)
"Duck" vs. "Decorated Shed"
$$$$ vs. $
"I fit in with the crowd" vs. "I am (flamboyantly) restrained"
minimalism vs. M A X I M A L I S M
high art vs. pop art
"idiot avante garde" vs. "everyday populism"
"good" aesthetics vs. "bad" aesthetics
critically acclaimed vs. offensive and embarassing to the profession

Figure 1: "Look at me."

A simple wood-clad gable shed outshines it's historic brick-clad neighbors by presenting an attention-grabbing false front facade to the street.

Figure 2: "Monumentally tiny."

A curiously small, unassuming concrete building stands along side typical residential buildings. Perhaps a long lost twin brother of an obscure conceptual Corbusian house?

Figure 3: "Historical Marker."

One of my personal favorites: an economical concrete block office wearing a rather spectacular historic cupola top hat. This perhaps is the defining image of an extra-ordinary architecture.

Figure 4: "Elevated to new heights."

A shotgun-style house monumentally elevated on a CMU block pedestal. I am giddy with anticipation awaiting the installation of an equally monumental staircase for the front door (which seems quite lonely right now).

Figure 5: "Suburban Irony."

Oops! An asymmetrical entrance on an otherwise perfectly symmetrical building. Those witty developers! How dare them!

Figure 6: "Tectonic Follies, or, Built Jokes."

Ahhh suburbia: A large surface parking lot is presented with a monumental entrance to a retail building...just kidding. That's a brick wall. Ha. You stupid shoppers. This building mocks its want-to-be shoppers, luring them into parking near what they think is the entrance, only to force them to walk all the way around to the entrance on the opposite side.