Requiem for an Ugly Building | Bleader

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Requiem for an Ugly Building

Posted By on 09.09.10 at 06:38 PM

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Robert Powers, on the always-wonderful Chicago Sojourn, semi-laments the passing of Loyola's Damen Hall. If you live with almost any building long enough it becomes endearing, as I learned when the University of Chicago tore down the irredeemable Woodward Court.

I thought this was interesting:

I'm not too keen on the new building that will go up in Damen's place, either [Ed. note: indeed, it's a fine example of Retro Ivory Tower Cliche]; it's a historicist replica that mockingly apes the oldest buildings on campus, rather than bringing any new ideas to the table (this is marketed as "complimenting" the older buildings.) Designed to be ultra-modern in technology and function, it hides those attributes as though they were badges of shame. Resorting to this sort of neo-historicist pastiche, as so many other universities now do, is a sad admission that our age has nothing of substance to say in built form; all we can do is copy ideas from a hundred years ago, badly.

This isn't exactly true, as anyone who's seen Rem Koolhaas's explicitly contemporary McCormick Tribune Center at IIT would suggest. While not every school can afford a new Koolhaas whenever they have to replace a building, the boringly pleasant Cuneo Hall is still unfortunate.

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