Pass the Corbusier

I can’t just leave a Le Corbusier reference dangling out there for everyone to see without doing something with it. So, let’s on with it.

If you need just one fact to associate with the man, try this: architect (also, sweet glasses).

A bit like the Brad Pitt of architecture, no?

Not good enough? Fine. Le Corbusier was one of the pioneers of Modern architecture (Notice the capital M as it was a whole movement within architecture and a distinct break from its antecedents. When you say it, try dropping into a pseudo British accent and lift an eyebrow at the same time. If you can’t pull that maneuver off all at once, just pick one). Incidentally, the only example of his design in the US is in Cambridge, MA: The Carpenter Center for the Arts at Harvard (why yes, I did sneak that in).

Corbusier's American Mark: The Carpenter Center (with a very nice tree)

If you haven’t seen one of his buildings, then you’ve probably seen echoes of them in the massive concrete apartment blocks throughout Eastern Europe and even in a number of western cities – the banlieues of Paris come to mind. In fact, Corbusier was among the first (if not the first) to sketch out the plans for the banlieues that surround Paris, though in his mind they were part of the ideal modern city. While it may have seemed like a great idea at the time, the subsequent history of those housing projects is decidedly less than stellar.

So let’s jump back into the conversation. Try this on for size: “No, I certainly don’t find Le Corbusier’s work ugly per se, though I haven’t seen much of his work up close in person. I’ve seen a few examples, and they are certainly daring, if not really my cup of tea. I do find it interesting that he did a few projects for the Soviet Union in the early 30s, and some bastardized form of his art seems to have made its way through to the massive housing projects they built throughout the USSR. Certainly not pretty, though I suppose they did the job of providing the housing of the masses with concrete, which you might call the material of the masses?” (pause for a quick knowing laugh) “In any case, I find Frank Gehry’s more organic forms more to my liking.”

Good job, you made it through a short discussion of architecture. Now, slip away while everyone is pondering your deep and insightful thoughts on Modern architecture.

Published in: on April 11, 2010 at 2:47 pm  Comments (1)