Message - Re: unpleasant backsides of buildings: a dialogue

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Posted by  Paul Malo on September 09, 2002 at 16:11:36:

In Reply to:  unpleasant backsides of buildings: a dialogue posted by steve on September 09, 2002 at 14:11:19:

How does this happen? Here's a case study (one that you may recognize, Steve):

A university was planning a major new facility, a high-tech center to house various computer studies and research programs. The program was developed by the university planning staff, coordinating input from prospective users.

At this point, the scenario resembles the recent WTC development fiasco. The planning committee proceded to lay out arrangements of elements for the building. Programming impreceptably advanced in preliminary design.

When preliminary presentions were required, the schematic program layouts were blocked out to scale, and then they became a "plan"--really a dreadful parti in basic architectural terms--not yet in terms of appearance or style, but in terms of fundamental concerns like entry and circulation. But these "space studies," once presented to scale on paper, became THE plan for the building.

This is Design by Committee--or by committees, plural. The "plans' were passed from committee to committee, until they arrived at a committee of college deans. The Dean of the School of Architecture (a nationally distinguished architect) was appalled, but at that stage of the project, all he could persuade the administration to do was consider the urban design aspects of the building--and in particular it's relation to the School of Architecture building, across the street.

The architecture dean succeeded in getting the university administration to engage a special "design consultant" to redeem this doomed project. Another nationally recognized designer was brought on board, but his mandate was simply to make the exterior more compatible with surroundings. The parti was fixed, so only exterior decoration was allowed.

We got a lovely fašade on one side of the building. The other sides? There are three "backs" to this structure, really painful to behold.

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