Architectural Madness

Friday, June 5, 2009
I recently visited the Stata Center at MIT in Boston, and took these photos. The building resembles a crazily-assembled hodgepodge of textures and geometric shapes: it looks altogether unlike any other building anywhere; as though it was a human building designed by martians with only a general description of what our buildings looked like.

The effect for a casual observer is breathtaking: the building is a bizarre and visually satisfying amalgam (perhaps mishmash is a better term) of colors and textures, weirdly canted angles and shapes that appear jammed together at random.

The building was designed by Frank Gehry, who also designed other wacky architectural masterpieces-slash-modernist-nightmares, including Disney Hall in Los Angeles, and the Experience Music Project in Seattle.

Unfortunately, it appears that the functionality of the building is far less impressive than its visual appeal. There is no understandable layout to the building, and (to an unfamiliar observer, of course), it appears ridiculously easy to get lost in.

Floor-to-ceiling glass walls in some offices means that privacy is impossible. The otherworldly angles, while striking, make hanging bookshelves well-nigh impossible.

The Wikipedia article on the Stata Center lists other defects, including a lack of soundproofing, a tendency to induce vertigo in its inhabitants, and a giant-sized price tag.

Oh, and it's probably not a good sign that MIT is suing Gehry, for massive design flaws leading to cracked masonry, flooding, and mold.

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