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Commodification and Spectacle in Architecture: A Harvard Design Magazine Reader

Introduction by Kenneth Frampton
William S. Saunders Editor
Volume: 1
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 144
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.cttttr80
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  • Book Info
    Commodification and Spectacle in Architecture
    Book Description:

    More than ever, architectural design is seen as a means to promote commercial goals. Bringing together an impressive and varied group of critics and practitioners, this collection will help to sharpen the discussion of how design can respond to our hypercommodified culture. Contributors: Michael Benedikt, Luis Fernández-Galiano, Thomas Frank, Kevin Ervin Kelley, Daniel Naegele, Rick Poynor, Michael Sorkin, Wouter Vanstiphout. _x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9818-9
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    William S. Saunders
  4. Introduction: The Work of Architecture in the Age of Commodification
    (pp. ix-xviii)
    Kenneth Frampton

    Over the past three decades international monopoly capital has increasingly challenged the authority of the nation-state, which still ostensibly embodies the democratic precepts of the free world. In this weakening of sovereignty, dating back to the revocation of the postwar Bretton Woods agreement, we have reason to believe that the last politically independent nation-state will be France, for France remains a state where the public intellectual plays a part in the country’s political life. It is this perhaps that accounts for the apocalyptic tone of French sociopolitical analysis. I have in mind the long haul that runs from Henri Lefebvre’s...

  5. 1 Spectacle and Its Discontents; or, The Elusive Joys of Architainment
    (pp. 1-7)
    Luis Fernández-Galiano

    The fall of the Berlin Wall closed one century and many debates. November 9, 1989, marked the end of the cold war and the end of the ideological rift that dominated almost the entire twentieth century. Democracy and the market, political and economic freedom won the day and the century—the century that in certain important ways began with the assassination in Sarajevo in 1914 that precipitated the First World War, and in equally key ways ended as thousands of East Germans peacefully walked into the West in a year that may become as historically significant as 1492 or 1789....

  6. 2 Less for Less Yet: On Architecture’s Value(s) in the Marketplace
    (pp. 8-21)
    Michael Benedikt

    Why ask about architecture’s values or the value of architecture? Are we in any doubt about either? Certainly, architectural monthlies and the major newspapers find no shortage of sharp new buildings to show. Recondite history and theory books continue to be published, enough to satisfy a generation of junior faculty (and then some), and all serve to substantiate our positive opinion of architecture’s heritage and importance. Lectures and exhibitions and professional meetings abound. We give and get design awards. And for the more retiring among us there is alwaysArchitectural Digest(covertly examined), travel to the villas and gardens of...

  7. 3 Brand Aid; or, The Lexus and the Guggenheim (Further Tales of the Notorious B.I.G.ness)
    (pp. 22-33)
    Michael Sorkin

    It is only natural that the Guggenheim should be at the Venetian. Fabled Peggy, after all, dwelled by the Grand Canal. The easy comparison, though, is less than apposite: this Guggenheim is not to that one as the Venetian is to Venice.

    The Vegas Guggenheim is, in fact, two, both designed by Rem Koolhaas. A small Cor-Ten box with several dozen very good pictures from the Guggenheim and the Hermitage opens off the main entrance to the hotel with all modesty. Out behind the casino is a much larger space of semi-industrial character in which the Frank O. Gehry &...

  8. 4 Hyphenation Nation: Blurred Forms for a Blurred World
    (pp. 34-46)
    Rick Poynor

    Early in the 1990s, I was contacted by a Japanese magazine seeking nominations from people in the design world for a word or concept that would, according to their crystal balls, “define the coming decade.” My suggestion washybrid.What a frisson that word then seemed to produce. It suggested a cultural landscape in which old categories of design artificially—and boringly—held apart by outmoded convention would merge in productive and exciting new forms. It contained more than a hint of transgression, as worn-out ways of thinking, making, and acting gave way to liberating creative practices, ideas, and experiences....

  9. 5 Architecture for Sale(s): An Unabashed Apologia
    (pp. 47-59)
    Kevin Ervin Kelley

    Some think that buying things you don’t “need” is immoral, but all of us do it, and if we were honest, we would admit that it’s harmless and we enjoy it. In Asia, the people I have encountered don’t think so puritanically—even Buddhist monks welcome the pleasures of shopping in the markets. We designers are not really producing what people need; we are producing what theywant.Our economy is based on creating those wants. In my firm, which designs to sell things, we study not only how people behave in stores but also anthropology, sociology, psychology, demography, and...

  10. 6 Rocking for the Clampdown: Creativity, Corporations, and the Crazy Curvilinear Cacophony of the Experience Music Project
    (pp. 60-77)
    Thomas Frank

    The Experience Music Project in Seattle is a cavernous, “interactive” museum of popular music history. Constructed at great expense by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen and housed in a billowing, bubbling, neon-colored structure designed by Frank Gehry, it is an artifact of “New Economy” ebullience as surely as are the motivational posters sold by Successories or the mountains of Enron souvenirs that can be found on eBay. The EMP’s position immediately next door to the beloved Space Needle strikes many Seattlites as blasphemous, and the building’s blob shape has evoked comparisons in the local papers with dead bodies, with melted quantities...

  11. 7 Rockbottom: Villa by OMA
    (pp. 78-87)
    Wouter Vanstiphout

    “. . . une condition trés . . . ahum, ahum, ahum . . . intéressante,” the voice booms in a big brick warehouse, between broken bodies swinging suspended from the rafters and immense steel spiders loitering around children’s bedrooms. Above, in the galleries surrounding the big space, are tight phalanxes of youth concentrating on television sets, themselves being watched over by severely dressed art femmes. This is not the new Metallica video. Rem Koolhaas is giving a lecture at the opening of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) exhibition “Living,” in the Centre d’Architecture Arc en Rêve in the...

  12. 8 Inside the Blue Whale: A Day at the Bluewater Mall
    (pp. 88-99)
    Rick Poynor

    Before I went to Bluewater, if someone had asked me what I thought about the idea of this gigantic new shopping mall in the suburbs of London, my answer would have spoken volumes to an impartial observer—a sociologist, say, or the kind of market researcher that a mall developer might commission—about my background, expectations, and prejudices. I hesitate to add “class” to the list only because in Britain the received wisdom, in the past ten or fifteen years, especially among the political classes, is that we are becoming a “classless” society. True to type, without having seen Bluewater,...

  13. 9 We Dig Graves—All Sizes
    (pp. 100-112)
    Daniel Naegele

    In small-town Missouri, for amusement, on Sundays, we shop. So several weeks ago, needing nothing but having heard rumors of the arrival of a new line from the East, I aimed my RX-7 at the town’s only Target. There, to my delight, household accoutrements from the onetime “Cubist kitchen king” abound. Tastefully packaged in blue and white cartons, all items are titled and come complete with a square photo of the designer, his signature, his bar code, and the following credo: “The Michael Graves product line is an inspired balance of form and function. At once it is sensible and...

  14. 10 The Second Greatest Generation
    (pp. 113-120)
    Michael Sorkin

    For the past twenty years I have been over thirty, the actual milestone having occurred slightly before the lapsing of the seventies (which was when much of the sixties actually occurred). And I am not the only one. As the boomer bulge in the bell curve grinds toward oblivion, we are driven to ask: what has the aging of youth culture meant for architecture?

    Youth, of course, is strictly a cultural matter. My generation is by self-definition—the only definition that ever counted for us—young. Architecture, the “old man’s profession,” has never been congenial to us (among others). We...

  15. Contributors
    (pp. 121-122)