The perils of modern architecture


Architecture, General Culture

As much as I like to look at modern architecture - well, at least some of it - I’ve recently noticed that one of its problems appears to be that the some of the buildings develop very mundane problems (often right from the start).

“The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has filed a negligence suit against world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, charging that flaws in his design of the $300 million Stata Center in Cambridge […] caused leaks to spring, masonry to crack, mold to grow, and drainage to back up.” (story from 2007) “The new Frank Gehry-designed Art Gallery of Ontario, designed as an impregnable fortress against the harsh Canadian weather, is already showing cracks in its armour. Recent visitors […] have been shocked to find condensation fogging up and streaming down many of its outer windows, while buckets dot its famed Douglas fir central staircase, catching errant drips.” (story from the other day; if they were smart they’d put a sign up and claim the buckets are an art installation!) “As it faces demolition, Harvard’s Otto Hall provides an object lesson in the perils of museum design” (story from last year) And I remember at least one other story where some architect designed an extremely “cool” building out of concrete somewhere, and it was then unusable for some reason (it might have been in the NY Times a few years back). Am I detecting a pattern here? Of course, this could be what scientists call a “selection effect” (given that Gehry is so famous, if his buildings develop problems we’re more likely to hear about it).