Bushitecture

Acceptable neologism? No? Architectural + Morality has a detailed profile of the architect chosen for Bush’s Library at Dallas. Parsing statements by Robert Stern, the chosen ‘tech, Corbusier concludes:

…as Mr. Stern has suggested, the architecture will serve as subdued backdrop to what the ideas and themes the President has championed during the last eight years:

“The president, if he were here, he’d say, ‘Eventually people will not be so interested in George W. Bush but they will be interested in the ideas, the forums and debates and things that can occur,’ ” Mr. Stern said. “So I think he and I are on the absolute same wavelength in that respect.”

It seems the president would rather emphasize library’s diverse program, which include archives, a learning center and a think-tank, rather than merely generate a uniquely moving impression of grandeur and power.

I’m going to pass on the opportunity to say something snarky about what an architectural manifestation of the “ideas and themes the President has championed” would really look like.  But it does seem incredibly appropriate for the library of a president who sought to vastly expand executive power to be in neo-Georgian style, a style named for the British monarchs named George.  Despite my general hostility to the project, I hope that Corbusier’s interpretations of the intended design are correct, because they would lead to a better building and institution.

Mostly, I’m curious about what goes into the decision to take this commission.  Clearly there are Republican, Democratic, Commie, etc. architects of varying degrees of political vehemence, and it would not be difficult to find a firm that would take the project.  But at what point as an architect do you decline a commission based on your view of the client?  Bush in particular provokes very strong feelings from people, and I suspect many lefty architects would refuse to do the project.  Which is probably better for everyone, because I can’t imagine a good building being produced when the client and architect loath each other.

Anyway, just because someone was going to take the project, doesn’t mean that person isn’t a tool; they are.  My only hope is the Stern will take Raggatt’s approach to the National Museum of Australia, though I am not optimistic.

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