Absurd Architecture in Your Neighborhood

Listeners On Air

Friday, July 29, 2011

Which of these things is not like the others? 

Last week on the show, Kurt Andersen went head to head with the conservative culture critic John Silber, who railed against the “absurd” work of architects Frank Gehry and Daniel Libeskind for their flashy buildings. It’s not just a matter of opinion, Silber says: it’s just bad architecture.

We asked you if there’s a building in your area that you find absurd. 

Barbara from Seattle, Washington nominated The Experience Music Project — Frank Gehry's monument to Jimi Hendrix and rock n’ roll. She described it as “a giant creature ran amok in a used car lot and then swept up all of the damaged cars and left them in a pile.”

But Patricia from Texas took issue with the very premise of our question. “This is an insulting witch hunt,” she wrote. “How about talking about what makes good architecture - the MOTHER of all the arts. It's not necessarily about profit. Long live Gehry and Libeskind.”

What do you think? Let us know — we’re still collecting photos. And thanks to everyone who wrote in.


Slideshow: The Experience Music Project

Experience Music Project

We asked listeners to tell us about the most absurd building in their city or neighborhood. Barbara picked the Frank Gehry-designed Experience Music Project (EMP) in Seattle, Washington: “[It] looks a giant creature ran amok in a used car lot and then swept up all of the damaged cars and left them in a pile."

Experience Music Project

The 140,000-square-foot building opened its doors to the public in 2000. When drafting his initial design, Gehry — a classical music lover — had to trade in his Bach for Hendrix. He bought and broke down several guitars, using the pieces as building blocks for the EMP's early model. The exterior incorporates the vibrant red and blues hues of electric guitars.

Experience Music Project

3,000 panels of stainless steel and painted aluminum make up the exterior of the building, each individually cut and shaped. The design, which fused textures and colors, is meant to symbolize the energy and fluidity of music.

Experience Music Project

The exhibitions and educational programs at the EMP focus on contemporary popular music and the culture that surrounds it.

Experience Music Project

Designed by the artist Trimpin, the installation "IF VI WAS IX: Roots and Branches" uses more than 500 musical instruments. 

Experience Music Project

The EMP as seen from its iconic neighbor, the Seattle Space Needle.

Produced by:

Jenny Lawton

Comments [1]

Doris O'Reilly-Dillon from Cleveland OH

How about the Peter B. Lewis Building of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. I caught your show at the last minute and don't know if you discussed it. The building was plopped down into a beautiful, Engligh-Tudor-style area of the university's campus in Cleveland. It's a monstrosity and totally out of place with all surrounding it. I can't see any genius at work in its design; I see only madness.

Aug. 01 2011 06:02 PM

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