Ugly Architecture

Take a look at these two homes designed by iconic architects widely recognized for their genius in different genres. The Farnsworth House by  modernist Mies van der Rohe, and the Vanna Venturi House by post modern architect Robert Venturi. Whether or not you could feel comfortable living in either of these homes, one is most certainly beautiful to look at and the other is not. It is obvious to even the most casual observer that one was the product of a careful discipline. Universal laws of symmetry, geometry, and historical precedent all coming together to form a unified whole. The other looks like it was built off site with spare parts gathered from demolished homes and dropped in with a helicopter without care or concern of how the home’s parts relate to the whole or how the home relates to the site. Of course this is the whole point and the goal of the post modern relativist. Who is to say what is beautiful and what is not. My suburban McMansion is no better or worse than your falling water aesthetically speaking. Anyone with eyes to see knows that this is ridiculous.
Venturi’s work in my opinion is a denial of architecture as a discipline or an art at all since anybody can slap together a design like the Vanna Venturi house. Like I said, this is always the post modernists intent. When everyone is special…no one is, and the perception of equality is achieved.
Post modernism in all contexts is the realm of the envious and self-indulgent. Of those without the vision or talent to create something beautiful from nothing.


7 responses to “Ugly Architecture

  1. Robert Venturi?

    Three words.





  2. Though to be fair I don’t think Venturi’s buildings are as gruesome as Michael Graves’.

    That thing in Portland is ghastly.

    Bad set design from a cheesy biblical epic.

    But wait…

    Frank Gehry’s Chiat-Day headquarters building in Venice, CA.

    I sometimes forget just how many hideous famous buildings there are.

    • Gehry’s work is heinous in my humble opinion. That “thing” he designed at the foot of the Space Needle will not hold up well I have a feeling. If we’re lucky, within thirty years it will suffer a fate similar to the King Dome. I’d volunteer to pull the switch.

  3. Mark,

    What’s funny about your comment on the Kingdome is that I bought my tiny red cabin on Bainbridge from the man who owned the engineering firm that designed and built the Kingdome (in fact, he had conceptual drawings all over the walls of his house) and he used to go on and on about what Idiots Seattleites were for tearing down the Kingdome. He thought it was beautiful in it’s utilitarian simplicity.

    And he lived in a house (that he designed and built himself) that looked almost identical to yours, but on the Western shore of Bainbridge instead of Hood Canal.

    Sometimes engineers don’t make very good architects, and visa-versa.

    After the last couple of winters, do you really still think it is a great idea to have a flat roof in a rainforest full of giant trees? Just saying,…

    Sometimes people build in the local vernacular…..because it works. Not because of how it looks When a couch becomes so stylized that it is no longer comfortable to sit on, it’s just an object, a thing – stuff. The same with houses: they at least have to keep the rain off your head; or they aren’t even doing the main job they were built to do.



    • Yeah, my place is desert architecture and completely impractical for our climate. I sure love it though!
      MOHAI is showing a documentary in about a week regarding modernism of a more local nature that is pretty cool. Lots more wood, and pitched roofs!

  4. Yeah, I love your house. So small, yet so big.

    We’ve been looking at finding some sort of old brick warehouse near downtown, and converting it into a house – with lots of indoor parking.

    It sure seems like there are lots of crappy run-down buildings for sale lately – but then again, maybe that’s just Reno….

  5. The Farnsworth House is crap too.

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