Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss
It's interesting in a totally laughable sort of way how these boards have developed a corp of instant but otherwise deeply committed architecture and city planning experts. How many of them, I wonder, have ever taken an interest in architecture or city planning before? My guess is approximately zero. And yet these instant experts know to the core of their beings that the new Apple campus is a great exercise in architecture and planning and nothing else could possibly be better. I wonder how many of them had even heard of Christopher Hawthorne before this article was posted here, let alone read his columns for years. My guess is approximately zero. And yet, they are convinced to within a millimeter of their lives that Hawthorne is a know-nothing hack. Their confidence and certainty about subjects and people they know nothing whatsoever about is almost inspirational.
Accordingly, I have decided to take up neurosurgery. I have heard of it, which should be enough. More than enough, given what I've read here.
You're only as good as your last article. His writing indicates he decided he didn't like the project and then tried to justify it. That is independent of any architectural prowess he has. When a professional writer makes that big a gaffe and tries to paper over it with out-of-touch writing he deserves to be called on it. You and the rest of the architectural community can handle him and his technical points, but when he writes that transparently he does your whole field a disservice.
Have you actually read the article itself? The first half of it is a slightly jealously toned paparazzi/entertainment fluff piece, not good critical architectural journalism in the least. Tounge-in-cheek reporting on what Gawker said, of all things to include. WTF?
I don't care how professional one's reputation is, that kind of evidence shows a loss of perspective throwing the entirety of the remainder into serious question.
He does follow with a couple paragraphs best summarized as being frustrated he does not know the name of the architect. This flat out smacks of elitism. Inspired work, or even merely good work does not have to come from a recognized name. He should concentrate on the designs merits itself rather than lament that a big name was not invoked publically.
Then he transitions into a book report on Pastoral Capitalism
which apparently laments the flight from the cities. Civic space, as I can understand from the books jacket and many other architectural readings tends to sound lovely, but I can think of very very few examples where I would recognize it as something that survived very long as a viable system. Color me a realist, but those four paragraphs did little to actually convince me of his justifications. His choice of a book quote in the last paragraph of those shows he is idealistic when it comes to the "collective metropolitan realm" we seem to be held responsible for. Has he ever hear of the Problem of the Commons? If he has he either forgot it, otherwise he couldn't possibly have chosen that quote in isolation, or he choses to ignore it which I would consider worse. The Problem of the Commons is on of the main psychological drivers that contributes to common spaces decay. I "somebody" does not own it, "everybody" tends to not value it properly over time.
Then he hedges a bit, "The rise of Los Angeles over the last century is itself a powerful argument against the idea that low-rise development precludes the kind of vitality or diversity we associate with the most progressive cities." Now he has just said, yeah, but... It is positioned as an escape clause at the very end of the article designed to try lend enough intellectual cover to deflect criticism by way of seeming unbiased. The problem there is in order to actually write in an unbiased manner you need to include both points up front, and clearly lend equal treatment, something he did not do so I do not give any substantial weight to his escape clause.
He is also shallow of wit and misses a very Apple-esque entendre he, apparently inadvertently, created in his own writing. The closing tone is dismissive but what is "one very long hallway connecting endlessly with itself"?
Wait for it.
Wait for it.
But an Infinite Loop
There was precious little discourse on the merits of the design or why he characterized aspects as he did. No mention at all of greenspace or that this project is infill, not additional sprawl at the edge. Just basic suburban is bad, civic is good. That counts as out of touch to me.