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Jan Gehl Laments Starchitects' Focus on Form

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richheap
richheap  
12/10/2013 4:40:11 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: A new direction for the Pritzker?
Good point, Drew. I'd say there's certainly a strong argument for this given how major cities like New York have been implementing his ideas about public space and physically separated bike lanes. He certainly has talent, vision and commitment to improving people's lives, but how can you quantify that to make his case? Numbers of people cycling? Improved safety for cyclists in cities that have implemented his ideas? I'm now sure how rigorous to Prizker prize judging is.

Drew Pinazza
Drew Pinazza  
12/10/2013 12:53:46 AM
User Rank Village Voice
A new direction for the Pritzker?
Interesting to read some of the names flying around here...many are laureates of architecture's highest honour.

Is it now time for the Pritzker jury to give due consideration of Gehl's work and influence?

richheap
richheap  
12/9/2013 11:49:19 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: Staritects
I don't know, CitySolver. On one hand I agree that it's good to have some buildings that are a bit weird, but I also think they should still perform the function for which they're intended. The fashion comparison is an interesting one, but at least a weird dress is only in magazines and on the catwalk for a little while. We don't have to live with it for a century afterwards.

richheap
richheap  
12/9/2013 11:46:46 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: Name the offenders
Thanks Terry, and sorry if I seem a little tetchy. I'll pass it on to Jan!

Anyway, I've been to Dubai a few times and I didn't really enjoy it. That's partly because I'm used to the UK where I can walk around my local neighbourhood without having to get in a car, and partly the climate and the culture. But I also have a problem when I look at the skyline and see so many office and apartment towers that are so empty. It seems so colossally wasteful and like it doesn't do anything to improve the city for its residents.

Then again, that is the Dubai brand. But that doesn't mean I have to like it!

Terry Sweeney
Terry Sweeney  
12/9/2013 10:55:54 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Name the offenders
Thanks, Rich... my desire for more detailed criticism was aimed at Gehl and not at your rather interesting and provocative blog. Dubai points up another common problem with architecture and design: pleasing a client who has more money than taste. The palm tree-islands may look super cool from a plane or outer space but probably are not so practical to live in or navigate on the ground.

CitySolver
CitySolver  
12/9/2013 10:18:00 AM
User Rank Blogger
Staritects
I agree Terry. Not all buildings should be purely functional. Some of the most celebrated buildings of the last century like Wrights Guggenheim dont function and ar not fit for purpose according to most art gallery directors, but like fashion designers designing outlandish dresses, we need a bit of glamour at the top and though I am all for functional urban spaces, I am also aware that sometimes we need a bit of creative flare in our environment that though not perfect, are inspiring and interesting, and dare I say, provoke debate.

richheap
richheap  
12/9/2013 4:31:55 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: A letter to architects
Thanks for the link, Nicole. I read that when it first came out and I agree that others here might find it of interest.

richheap
richheap  
12/9/2013 4:30:27 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: Name the offenders
Fair point, Terry. He also gave the example of Dubai, which is a collection of odd-looking skyscrapers without much connection with each other. That's a contemporary example.

And, as for "starchitects", the points he was making are general which means you can take your pick from Calatrava, Gehry, Rafael Vinoly, Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, Zaha Hadid etc. Happy to go through case-by-case here.

Terry Sweeney
Terry Sweeney  
12/9/2013 12:55:04 AM
User Rank Blogger
Name the offenders
The common crticism of architects is that they should be made to live in the buildings/rooms they design. And complaints about Brasilia are decades old (the "city" went live officially in 1960), so i can't help but wonder if Gehl had someone more contemporary in mind than city designer Oscar Niemeyer. Frank Gehry? Santiago Calatrava? Richard Meier? Paul Andreu? I'd prefer a case-by-case discussion rather than a general purpose rant about crummy urban design.

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
12/6/2013 4:39:43 PM
User Rank Staff
A letter to architects
Great blog, Rich; and great comments by Jan.

This blog prompted one of our contributors, Christine Outram, to send me a link to a piece she wrote recently, essentially a critical letter to architects, which reflects on the themes Jan has breathlessly been trying to stress.

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