Reason magazine argues that the World Trade Center should be replaced with a building that "people actually like".

In, Art Deco, Ground Zero Todd Seavey argues that terrorists see modernism as "a weird imperialist imposition"

A compelling argument - the terrorists in question are hardly big fans of the modern world - but ultimately a fallacious one. The problem as I see it is twofold:

Firstly, the terrorists that attacked the World Trade Center may be anti-modern, but in being so they thmselves are weirdly post-modern - you don't learn to fly planes by refusing to engage with modernity.

Secondly, Seavey proposes art deco as a more suitable - and popular - replacement. Well, maybe, but to anti-modern eyes, art deco buildings look plenty modern.

I suspect that whatever style David Childs adopts for the new building, it won't be an A-frame wattle and daub construction or a yurt.

Seavey continues, stating that modernism is an anti-human approach to design:


Tom Wolfe summed up the case against modernist architecture in his book From Bauhaus to Our House, explaining how the European modernists of the early twentieth century consciously cast tradition aside, believing they could create not just buildings but aesthetics and cities themselves according to simple rational principles - with the results often being cold, ugly, inhuman, and even impractical.

Such arguments against modernism are not uncommon although, interestingly, it's always architecture that takes the brunt. The anti-modernist criticism of fine art can usually be dismissed as simple philistinism and in graphic design modernism remains a force, particularly in the world of corporate identity.

Doubtlessly, having to live with buildings is part of the issue: art can be ignore and graphic design tends to work on the subconscious. Buildings are rather more obvious and a lot more imposing.

Tempting as it is to say: "If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out", I fear that engaging with the critique of modernist architecture is the only option.

Looking around the city I currently find myself ensconced in, it occurs to me that modernist buildings may well be better regarded if their owners made any effort whatsoever to maintain them. Never mind worrying about the concrete rotting due to thirty years of pollution, how about cleaning the damn things once in a while?

As usual, more later.