Paleo Retiree writes:
Blowhard, Esq.’s recent posting about architecture and color prompted me to pull out the iPhone a lot during my daily walks around downtown NYC. For the sake of this posting, please ignore the dramatic differences in shapes, designs, depth and materials in these collages. Let’s focus only on the question of color.
That’s quite a range, and quite a bouquet, of colors: olive, gold, raspberry, copper, oxblood, mint …
Now, a collage of very recent buildings:
I’m hard put to discern any colors at all in that collection of snaps. If it weren’t for the blue-green of certain kinds of glass and the blue of the sky, the collage wouldn’t lose a thing by being reproduced in black and white.
Happy to admit that this isn’t a completely fair comparison. I certainly ran across a few newer buildings that featured touches or color, and the number of older buildings that are ivory, tan or gray isn’t insignificant. Oddly, it’s rare that one runs across black in traditional buildings. The one genre of trad building/space that is reliably black is this:
Irish bars. It’s a convention that I don’t understand. Does anyone know where it comes from? And what is it about the Irish and black generally? They like their black leather jackets too. I’ve always assumed it has to do with the weather — the gray skies, the damp and the chill, the peat and the coal. But what do I know?
Anyhoo: while I was certainly trying to play up the contrast between trad architecture and contempo buildings, I think the comparison is totally fair as a general rule. When your eyes are open to the question of the color of the buildings around you, it’s incredibly striking how warm and various trad buildings are and how monochromatic and neutral contempo buildings are. If anyone should be tempted to point out that, while many of the trad buildings I’ve shown have coats of paint on them, most of the contempo buildings are of glass and metal — well, sure. But doesn’t that help make the point that trad buildings give us the freedom to do as we please with ’em (including applying colors of our choice) while contempo architects and developers are forever locking us into rigid, top-down, cold concepts?
Color, as anyone who has taken Painting or Design 101 knows, means vibration and festiveness. It means life. Why do our current masters want to starve us of all that? And what kind of desolate, if chic, cemetaries are they trying to turn our cities into?
- Blowhard, Esq. takes a tour of L.A.’s Deco landmarks.
- His walk around the Santa Ana Civic Center reveals one stretch of Crap Space after another.
- Long Beach’s Civic Center may be even more dreary.
- This isn’t the first time I’ve bitched about contempo architecture and color.
- I wrote a love letter to some smalltown porches …
- … and was prompted by a visit to California’s Gold Country to venture some Deep Thoughts.
- What’s so bad about a little architectural kitsch?