November 5, 2017

DON’’T MINCE WORDS DR. DALRYMPLE, TELL US HOW YOU REALLY FEEL: Theodore Dalrymple on Le Corbusier, Liar, Cheat, Thief, and Plagiarist.

Like Hitler, Jeanneret [Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, Corbusier’s real name — Ed] wanted to be an artist, and, as with Hitler, the world would have been a better place if he had achieved his ambition. Had he been merely an artist, one could have avoided his productions if one so wished; but the buildings that he and his myriad acolytes have built unavoidably scour the retina of the viewer and cause a decline in the pleasure of his existence.

One of Jeanneret’’s buildings can devastate a landscape or destroy an ancient townscape once and for all, with a finality that is quite without appeal; as for his city planning, it was of a childish inhumanity and rank amateurism that would have been mildly amusing had it remained purely theoretical and had no one taken it seriously.

The good doctor is just getting started; read the whole thing.

I actually like many of the white stucco modernist buildings Corbusier built in the 1920s, when his career was just getting started. They were mostly small homes built for wealthy clients living in Paris who appreciated the avant garde and giving an early break to an artist on the way up.  But his French postwar apartment blocks were hideous and foreshadowed the concrete architectural style known as brutalism — — and for good reason.

Corbusier only saw two buildings bearing his imprimatur completed in the US. He was part of the architectural committee who designed the UN building in New York in 1948, and he designed the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts building at Yale in 1962.  However, Corbusier’’s urban planning concepts were enormously influential on American urban renewal in the 1950s and ‘’60s, with invariably disastrous results. Jane Jacobs’’ influential book 1961 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities is essentially a real-world rebuttal to his architectural and urban planning fantasies.

(Via Kathy Shaidle.)