Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tom's Architectural Blog of the Day: Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art

Today's blog features an architectural spotlight from Tom: 
Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art

The Netherland’s museum of modern art is called the Stedelijk.  Located in Amsterdam, the museum has been closed for nine long years so that much needed upgrades and construction of its new addition may be completed.  Because the indoor environment was so poor, the museum had been unable to secure on loan priceless works of art from other museums around the world.  But no matter, the museum’s own collection includes works by Van Gogh, Chagall, Mondrian, Picasso, de Kooning, and Warhol. 
The original structure is quite handsome with its red brick exterior striped with horizontal white bands of stone.  The roof line provides visual interest with its peaked roofs capped with cupolas. 

The building performs a critical function in the urban landscape by performing a role that urban planners call an “edge,” meaning that it fronts onto a square and helps to enclose the green spaced called the Museumplein, which has been used for public outdoor functions for over 100 years.
The museum curators and board commissioned the Amsterdam-based architectural firm of Benthem Crouwel to design the new addition to the museum.  The design program consisted of a ceremonial entrance to the museum, much-needed column free gallery space, and an auditorium.  For me, the addition falls into the category of “just because we can do something, doesn’t mean that we should.”  Imagery is important and the imagery projected by this building will be difficult to overcome – a giant porcelain enamel bath tub.  People will be laughing and scoffing at this building for decades to come, as they rightfully should.

 What in the world would possess an architect to draw inspiration from a bath tub for a monumental building that fronts onto a public square?  Note in these images how the new addition completely eclipses the original museum building.  The overwhelming grossly out of scale overhangs are completely ridiculous and look like the projecting wings of a nun’s habit. 

The exterior has been painted with the same paint used on airplanes, which may look great when its shiny reflective white finish is newly applied.  But have you seen what airplanes look like after a few years of exposure?  It is certain that the museum curators have not provided for the maintenance required by this type of extravagant finish.  Another internet blogger writes:  “When the time comes that bankers are hanged from the lampposts, this block should be reserved for the architects.” [1]
 The architect of this building, A.W. Weissman, clearly has an ego problem.  The museum curators and its board should be terminated for misappropriation of museum funds and permitting this abhorrent structure to be built in the first place.  Now, my only hope is that a sufficient number of critics will write about this atrocity ad nauseum and that this architectural firm will be laughed into obscurity rather than pay one more penny for such tripe.  This kind of performance is abysmal.  The public deserves better.  We must demand better.


[1] James Howard Kunstler, “Eyesore of the Month,” October 2012.

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Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next