Architectural Wasteland – Can it be Avoided?
As everyone has probably read by now on every newspaper or blog, the fourth proposed design for the Apple store on Wisconsin Avenue was rejected yesterday (Post story here). While the Old Georgetown Board told Apple’s architect that it is eager for the store to open on Wisconsin Avenue, it is sad to me that time and again architectural review boards or the U. S. Fine Arts Commission reject designs because they don’t appear to fit in with their surroundings.
I, for one, am sick and tired of such defenders of style and taste insisting that we live in a 19th century theme park. This is a living, breathing city. People live here, work here, and transact commerce here. People change. Styles change. Technology changes. One of the things that makes a city enjoyable and unique is the juxtaposition of different materials, forms, shapes, and designs. Yes, sometimes questionable designs are executed, but I’d be willing to bet controversy surrounds every superior design. There was heated debate on both the Lincoln and Vietnam memorials when they were constructed. Both are superb.
I’ve always believed in architectural honesty. There should be a balance in the city. Preserve what merits preservation. Permit innovation where innovation is possible. Do not let the style of new construction be dictated by its surrounds – but also insist that new construction be harmonious with its surroundings (notice I didn’t say homogeneous). By respecting scale, form, and color, two completely different buildings can play nice with each other.