Thursday, May 14, 2009

FIELD MUSEUM. Coffers, Keystones, Acroterion and a Magic Carpet

I think when an Architect takes care of the basics - when the clarity of a building's concept is apparent, when function, utility, maintenance and grace are given consideration due - that "Style" is a delicate, arbitrary matter of ever-changing, taste. I believe that no "Style" is more or less moral or appropriate than another. And that modernism is no excuse for unclear concept, perverse manipulation of scale, or a lack of contextual respect. Could the Field Museum survive without its application of Classic Ornament? Of course. Would we love it quite so much?

This week-end marks the opening of the Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago. Renzo Piano, the Wing's Architect, took great care to orient his work to Frank Gehry and Millenium Park. But despite the orientation, Chicago now finds the museum work of Renzo Piano in close proximity to the Landmark accomplishments of Daniel Burnham, Peirce Anderson, Graham Anderson Probst and White, and Ernest Grunsfeld. Not to mention Shepley Rutan and Coolidge. (Speaking of schizophrenic). And amid this confusion, the question comes to mind, if in a hundred years or so, some crazy architect (and we're all crazy) will be blogging the community to raise enough money to restore Renzo's Magic Carpet roof-thing, ---just as I am today asking for the restoration of Stanley Field Hall's great skylight -- coffers, dentils and all.

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