20 January 2004

Eyesore of the month

Grumpy urban design critic James Howard Kunstler maintains an Eyesore of the Month page showing examples of our nightmarish American built environment annotated with his scathing criticism. Kunstler is sort of a real-life equivalent to Dean Motter's Mr. X, ranting about how our architecture is so bad that it will drive us crazy. I'm not mocking Kunstler, mind you; I agree with him.

My favorite eyesore post combines the witty, the sad, and the chilling in its last line.

Here we have the old courthouse in Biloxi, Mississippi, (left) and its 1970s replacement (right) -- the sublime and the ridiculous. The old building is garbed in the architectural vestments of authority in decorum. The new courthouse invokes arbitrary bureaucratic despotism. Note to political economists: the building on the left came from a far less affluent society than the one at right.
I do wish his web site design were not so horrid, though. You'd think that as an urban design critic, he'd know better, but in my experience a good eye for one design discipline doesn't necessarily confer any advantage in approaching other disciplines.

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