[Gericault, The Raft of the Medusa, 1819, The Louvre, Paris]
From yesterday's New York Times, a big wet one from architecture critic Nicholas Ourossoff to Thomas Mayne and his San Francisco Federal Building.
His recently completed Federal Building in San Francisco is his most powerful government work to date, its slender form and perforated metal skin a clever play on notions of transparency in an era when the fear of terrorist attacks is prompting government agencies and corporations to turn their offices into armored compounds.The piece goes on, lavishly veering into crit-porn, describing Market Street as seam instead of seamy:at the seam that divides the densely packed towers of the downtown civic center and financial district to the north, and the more rugged, horizontal landscape of the warehouse district to the south... Playing off that contrast, the federal building offers two radically different faces to the city. On the north side, a stoical rectangular green-glass facade conjures landmarks of late Modernism like the United Nations in New York, with its conflicting messages of social progress and bureaucratic conformity. A series of delicate vertical glass fins serve as brises-soleils, adding an unexpected note of refinement.Heady stuff indeed. Ourossoff flies off to Marseilles, invoking le Corbusier, then brings us down to earth with:some of this effect has been lost by the erection of a crude system of partitions and office cubiclesconjuring images of federal employees clinging to their care-worn furniture, lifeboats tossing in the seas of aluminum and filtered natural light.
· More Openness in Government (Offices, That Is) [NY Times]