Hiking Stata CenterBy http://profile.typepad.com/1237764140s22740 // April 17, 2011 in Location
While attending the Angel Capital Association 2011 Summit in Cambridge, Mass., a couple weeks ago, I took a walk to see the Stata Center on the MIT campus.
I'm a patron of the LA Philharmonic, which plays in the Disney Concert Hall, so I feel at home hiking both on top of the building and wandering around its interior.
But I'm not a student or faculty member at MIT, so my interior exploration of Stata Center was bit more self-conscious and hurried. (Maybe I can get myself invited to a conference sited there and "settle in" on a second tour!)
I'm puzzled by Nikos Salingaros' scathing assessment of Frank Gehry buildings on academic campuses, excerpted in the Wikipedia article:
"An architecture that reverses structural algorithms so as to create disorder—the same algorithms that in an infinitely more detailed application generate living form—ceases to be architecture. Deconstructivist buildings are the most visible symbols of actual deconstruction. The randomness they embody is the antithesis of nature's organized complexity. This is despite effusive praise in the press for 'exciting' new academic buildings, such as the Peter B. Lewis Management Building at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, the Vontz Center for Molecular Studies at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, and the Stata Center for Computer, Information, and Intelligence Sciences at MIT, all by Frank Gehry. Housing a scientific department at a university inside the symbol of its nemesis must be the ultimate irony."
Because I haven't actually worked or studied in the building, and I didn't strike up any conversations with anyone who "lived" there as I ambled (self-consciously) through it's interior, I have to allow that there may be something about working in the building day to day that could throw a rational person off her rational game. Though for me personally, I'd expect it would be as stimulating a place in which to spend a semester as Disney Concert Hall is for an afternoon or evening.
What works for me, to stimulate intellectual and aesthetic creativity, is to assess things out of context. Architecture that delights, conflates, extends, surprises, is rather like a three dimensional browser that helps you put metaphorical spaces together that might not otherwise meet.