By michael-leonard creditor / flexible fotography
This month’s A Photographic Look is dedicated to architect Robert Venturi who died last month at the age of 93. While a vocal proponent for what became known as Post-Modern architecture, he (along with his partner Denise Scott Brown) made good buildings in other styles, too. I just hope he doesn’t try redesigning the pearly gates.
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While I have a definite partiality for Art Deco, I enjoy and appreciate all types or categories of architecture. For me, a structure just has to make design sense no matter what form or style the design might take. (Not being out of place in its location also helps a bunch.)
What I mean is that whatever form the design had in the architect’s mind, must have a reason, a functional basis in reality—not just be something different for its own sake, or something added-on just for the adding of it. I am not fond of Post-Modern architecture for this reason. Go look at The Aventine in La Jolla for an example. The tiny windows I understand (it’s more the perspective of the large wall area), but why are those little adornments there? That doesn’t mean a building can’t have some feature that is intended just for decoration. Just that it should be done well, not simply added-on as if from a catalog.
On the other hand, the fancifully-conceived structures in Antonio Calatrava’s Cuidad de la Artes y Ciencias in Valencia, Spain all serve their functions before being astoundingly beautiful designs. Another example is the classic, traditional step-up design on many (millions of?) buildings, the architecture is functional first, then the design takes over to make some of them good, others bad… and a few extraordinary.
Notice all those swooshy, upswept rooflines around town? A nice little addition when they were new, the swoop roof shows how something good isn’t good anymore when you see it just added-on everywhere. Same with their geometric opposite: the arc-roofs that were very popular a few years ago. They were everywhere, especially on sports-themed buildings.
San Diego architecture gets bashed a lot, mostly with good reason. But there are also many buildings—and parts of buildings—that I think successfully realize their designer’s ideals. Of course, beauty being where it is, you may not agree that all (or even any) of these illustrates good architecture. But, I hope it gets you thinking about it. Comments are welcomed. Oh, and here is the first Orchids & Onions report.
I hope it gets you thinking about it because my birthday is next month and I’m gonna celebrate it here by showing off a bunch of just some of my own personal favorite architectural images of all kinds, from all over.
I chose to limit this collection to structures still standing; I didn’t think it’s fair to delve into history to show that there is good architecture in town. And, I’m not mentioning the designers of these buildings because I don’t want to write that much. Also, I am omitting the two — that’s right, only two — San Diego buildings that have actually won major national awards for their design and architecture. Brownie points if you know which buildings they are.
All photos © michael-leonard creditor / full-size images @ flexible fotography