Designed to create conflict? No it couldn't be.
Was the new Koolhaas-designed Public Library, read more here, deliberately designed to be an icon of divisiveness?
"These new public buildings are doing what public buildings are supposed to do. Even before they are finished, they are political and controversial, sending out messages and symbolism, eliciting comment pro and con."Sure sounds like it. And those are in the words of a former Mayor of Seattle. Initially I thought his words a mere make-weight to defend a design (which may soon turn out to be unpopular). Now I am wondering if hip-conflict really was the Library Board's specific intention.
The idea that public buildings should be controversial is dead wrong at its core. Public buildings are supposed to (in the cloying but accurate language Seattle knows so well) "heal" and "bring us together." Libraries in particular are supposed to be a neutral ground for even the most diametrically-opposed views. It is disturbing to think that the Library Board might deliberately invite an architect --- Koolhaas --- to design a building which would symbolize and further social divisions. But it sounds as if the former Mayor is saying just that --- Koolhaas did what he was hired to do: design a public building which would sow controversy and discord. The Scourge of Modernism states:
Similarly, as last week's New York Times Sunday Magazine shows, postmodern architects are very good at achieving their goals. The stated purpose of architecture according to the post-modernists is conflict, political statement, ridicule, and satire. They want to make you feel uncomfortable and ill at ease in their buildings. This is the explicit design goal.And we are somehow supposed to welcome a Library like that as progressive, I guess. I am honestly astonished that anyone could see creating discomfort and controversy --- as if there isn't enough --- as a virtue. Surely the former Mayor, for whom I voted more than once, misspoke. Or perhaps I misjudge how far architectural obscurantism has penetrated into the liberal intelligentsia.
We have enough social conflict without intentionally designing it into the fabric of the city.