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The Case for a New International Style | Architect Magazine

Aaron Betsky on why post-pandemic architecture should resist sameness in its pursuit of safety.

   Flickr/Creative Commons License/Dan DeLuca Empty New York City streets in April

Flickr/Creative Commons License/Dan DeLuca Empty New York City streets in April


As I watch the images from around the world of the still-empty downtown streets, and the few stadiums in operation with forlorn fans properly spaced along curves that normally accommodate thousands, I realize that we are seeing yet the latest version of the International Style.

By this I do not mean the glass and steel boxes by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe or the architecture of corporate followers like Skidmore, Owings & Merrill or, more recently, Norman Foster, Hon. FAIA—all symbols of one particular attempt to house and represent the forces of modernity. Rather, I’m talking about the many waves of standardized forms of organization, materials, and shapes that have circled the globe—an architecture that has been created as much by global flows of finance and culture, as well as by similarities in methods of production and standards, as it has been by the aesthetic preferences of any architects. Whether the buildings are Hadidian blobs or KPF-designed skyscrapers, or assume some other generic shape regardless of site or function, the range of styles, materials used, and forms is remarkably limited. The reason is not necessarily the influence of a small group of “starchitects,” but rather the global market, in which steel sizes and concrete specifications, window assemblies and doorknobs, office layouts and stadium sightlines, and exit and access requirements are all the same, no matter where you are.

The new International Style is so much more evident during the pandemic because all these safety precautions mandate so much empty space. It is easier to see the buildings in all their generic grids and materials without all the people who normally occupy them. That is true of the empty sidewalks, which allow us to see the office towers in all their gleaming objecthood, and the vacant interiors, which enable us to admire the logic behind the configurations of cubicles and the elegant swerves of conference rooms without the workers and their photographs and other knickknacks.

Buildings will look even slicker, surfaces will be more artificial, BIM will intensify in its relentless removal of all corners, idiosyncrasies, and other cost-eating particularities, and the need for safety will trump all design variation.

read on >>>> Source: The Case for a New International Style | Architect Magazine

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