October 24, 2003
Seeking: Negative reviews of something universally wonderful

gehry_disneyconcerthall.jpgPrior to this week, I had always (naively, I suppose) thought the world of architectural criticism was filled with wild arguments between opposing camps of urban theory and clashes between supporters of different eras of architectural history. I salaciously imagined elderly geezers hurling wine goblets at one another as they verbally tore apart Frank Lloyd Wright's famed wooded house in Pennsylvania, or young M.A.-thesis-seeking neo-hipsters engulfing themselves in smoke and intellectual detritus as they bitterly debated the detriments and merits of Calatrava's bridges.

I was so, so wrong. Apparently, architectural critics can be in agreement, and about uber-post-post-postmodernist Frank Gehry, no less (who burst into the cultural limelight with his somewhat psychotic, but ever-so-fluid Guggenheim Bilbao museum). Everyone, from the San Francisco Chronicle to Slate to the New York Times to, well, the somewhat predictable cheers of the Los Angeles Times, is damned-near raving about this thing: its innovative acoustics, its stately presence, its compelling framing of Los Angeles' downtown.

"A Wonder of Sound and Magic," proclaims L.A.'s local paper. "Exuberant" and "a triumph," coos Slate. "Shimmering" and "undulating," proffers the Times' Bernie Weinraub. A "grand pirouette of swooping stainless steel facades and billowing curves," ejaculates the Chronicle in San Francisco.

And even I think I love it, and I've always tried so very hard to be contrarian. Please, someone, help me out and verbally rip this metallic masterpiece apart; shred its bold reinvention of concert-hall acoustics, excoriate its majestic manifestation of sound and space. Pleeeeeeease. Pretend we're discussing Richard Meier's ghastly marble Getty Center in Brentwood, if you must -- just let the decimation begin!

(Past discussions on blurbs from low culture)

Posted in a Shallow fashion.

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