April 6, 2009

The Water Park of Doom


This is the new $242 million arts high school in downtown Los Angeles. I don't know what the giant spiral thing-a-mabob is supposed to be: to me, it looks like a nightmare water slide that will send children plummeting out of its airborne bottom end to their deaths:

Whhhheeeeeeeee ... Splat.

Designed by the award-winning Austrian architecture firm of Coop Himmelb(l)au, this public high school is alongside the Hollywood Freeway. It's right across from the Roman Catholic LA Cathedral that was erected a decade ago by an award-winning Spanish architect in the style of a secret police headquarters. From the east, the new high school (unsurprisingly, billionaire busybody Eli Broad was intimately involved in its creation) looks like an invading robot from Planet Japania that's aiming to torch the Cathedral with its flamethrower:

Not surprisingly, the new $242 million high school is a political football. At a time when LAUSD is laying off math teachers, race is getting in the way of doing anything with this expensive boondoggle. The LA Times reports:

A tug of war erupted last week over L.A.'s new downtown arts high school, with some of its biggest supporters declaring that they had given up on the Los Angeles Unified School District and wanted the $242-million campus turned over to a charter school organization. In response to the critics, who included philanthropist Eli Broad, Supt. Ramon C. Cortines shot back: "There is not a for-sale sign on it."

The tension had been building for months, fueled in part by the district's plan to reserve most of the school's seats for students from the surrounding neighborhood rather than open it up to the most talented students districtwide. It bubbled over after two star principals from the East Coast turned down offers to take charge, leaving the school leaderless less than six months before it opens in September.

It's been totally forgotten in the mania for starchitects, but Southern California has a 200-year-old indigenous architecture style that would make its heavily Hispanic population feel much more at home than these theory-laden monstrosities by cutting edge European architects. Here, for example, is the Santa Barbara Mission, built 189 years ago:

Personally, I would like to see more public buildings in the Spanish Mission style than in that high school's Piranesi's Handicap-Accessible Wheelchair Ramp of Death mode.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

56 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is it with modern architects and windows?

Either they make the whole building a window so the HVAC has to run 24/7 to keep the inhabitants from stewing in their own sweat, or they design these giant sensory deprivation chambers.

--Senor Doug

dearieme said...

I suspect that you are hinting that Hispanic-Americans have contributed only one thing of merit to California, and that the dim Gringos are ignoring it. Perhaps you are even hinting that a particular aesthetically-challenged subset of Gringos might be to blame?

Black Sea said...

The architect of the Roman Catholic church on the left might well argue that his design DOES pay tribute to the Spanish Mission style. These tributes can be rather dubious.

Steve Sailer said...

Yes, the Cathedral's architect did make that argument -- that he had included abstracted, deconstructed hints of the Spanish Mission style. And if you stare at the Cathedral for ten minutes, you can, indeed, make out those remnants. Whether the congregation will get much from this is another question. (To be fair, the interior is serene.)

RKU said...

Yet another example of the horrific cultural transformation inflicted on poor Los Angeles by massive Mexican immigration!

sykes.1 said...

Actually, the indigenous Hispanic style might go back 400 to 500 years. Its superiority over the modern Fascist style is transcendently obvious.

David said...

"Starchitects"

Hee hee.

Shawn said...

"looks like an invading robot from Planet Japania that's aiming to torch the Cathedral with its flamethrower:"

LOL

RobertHume said...

Most of the great Mission-Style architecture in LA is due to Anglo architects like Benjamin Goodhue's ... Caltech, LA Library, and in San Diego at the park the exposition tower.

malcolm said...

Steve, have you ever seen the Court House in Santa Barbara - its amazing, The intermarried Anglo-Spanish (as in of descent from Spain not metizo) elite of SB really did a great job after the earth quauke and it conintues to be one of the most human cities in California.

Anonymous said...

The Jewish elite has high verbal intelligence and low visospatial, in short they would rather have buildings you can argue about than look at.

jody said...

LOL. so what we're saying is, yet again, that white guys from spain did something noteworthy, but aztecs did not.

any aztec temple design elements in los angeles architecture?

i'm beginning to think that calling these people "hispanics" is itself some kind of political correctness. now these do nothing, invent nothing, contribute nothing american indians and mestizos are somehow associated with the spanish and anything the spanish have done, instead of with their own backwater, third world culture.

Anonymous said...

any aztec temple design elements in los angeles architecture?

Certainly: Frank Lloyd Wright's textile block houses.

My first thought was: how many days until that high school's signature tower is covered in spray paint? Does the architect realize whom he is building for?

daveg said...

Just want to add that Spanish architecture is influenced by Arab architecture.

It very much suits the climate and the natural materials they had available and that, in turn, matches up with SoCal very well.

Truth said...

The Frank Ghery thing is kind of like gangster rap for rich old white guys:

On of you pulls up, lets down your tinted car window at the stoplight and subjects everyone within earshot to your ill-conceived odious version of art, except that the light aint' gonna change for the next 150 years.

Danindc said...

Steve's on his game today.

Personally, I think the Japanese futuristic robot may have trouble with the secret prisons perimeter defenses when they have their inevitable battle over the Freeway.

Mr. Anon said...

"Steve Sailer said...

Yes, the Cathedral's architect did make that argument -- that he had included abstracted, deconstructed hints of the Spanish Mission style."

Great post, Steve. You could submit that picture to James Kunstler for his "Eyesore of the Month" category - but then he'd have to acknowledge you, which he would never do. Like many economists seem to now, he'd prefer to remain ignorant.

Modern architecture is very much like the creature in John Carpenter's "The Thing" - it digests and absorbs a variety of organic styles, and then vomits them up as hideous, grotesque, misshapen monstrosities.

Dave R. said...

"Modern art" without beauty was influenced by communist attempts at psy-ops against the American populace. That's not to say everyone was in on it, or that modern practitioners don't have their own justifications, but its one part of the history of ugly architecture and installation art.

tommy said...

Amidst a sea of Obama bumper stickers on one woman's vehicle I saw yesterday, I noticed one that said something like "the world will be a better place when teachers are given all the money they need and the Air Force has to put on a bake sale to buy a bomber."

Might I suggest the educrats stop wasting money on stuff like this first?

testing99 said...

In defense of Mexican culture and architecture, it's quite true that Mexico produced a lot of stunning visual artists, muralist, painters and so on. Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera come to mind.

Certainly in Mexico and throughout California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, some stunning Cathedrals and Missions were constructed, often without detailed plans, by native labor and various mestizo adventurers, of mixed blood. And indeed even Castillans and so on were of mixed descent: Arab, native Celtic Iberian, some Jewish, Roman, and Visigoth descent all mixed together.

What made Spanish colonial architecture superior to Aztec architecture was the cultural gifts of the Greeks and Romans that the Spanish had and the Aztecs lacked. Aztec architecture was brutalist, gigantic human sacrifice platforms (ala the Mayas and Toltecs and Incas) designed to intimidate and cause fear. Spanish Colonial missions and Cathedrals are designed to uplift and promise God's love within, by showing majesty and ... beauty.

The Aztecs were masters of creating fear and intimidation but could not create a single bit of beauty.

Ravis said...

Jody makes a good point. "Hispanic" has become more of a political word than a descriptive one. How much of Hispanic culture is actually European (especially in the Southwest)? That might be worth adding to the dialog. Americans generally have no awareness of ethnic differences in Mexico or have ever heard the term mestizos.

Anonymous said...

A funny post, Steve. "Water Partk of Doom", "Planet Japania" - LOL.

Anonymous said...

My first thought was: how many days until that high school's signature tower is covered in spray paint? Does the architect realize whom he is building for?

Maybe this style of architecture is intended to be improved by tagging, like some kinds of stone are improved by weathering.

Chris said...

They've been doing a lot of this doom robot architecture all around downtown. The new Caltrans building on 1st and Main looks like it was a collaboration between Gillette and Darth Vader.

http://www.tropolism.com/archives/caltrans1.jpg

Jun said...

I'm still horrified (maybe 'cause I'm a former RC) at the statue of the Virgin Mary at the LA Cathedral. I mean, wt-bleep?!

AllanF said...

Come on, at least the starchitect made a site visit. A lot of them don't even bother with that perfunctory step. Sure, invading flame-throwing robots aren't your cup of tea, but they clearly are for Old Man Broad. I think he very much got his money's worth.

Anonymous said...

Spanish not Mexican.

bruce said...

What happened to the smart pinko potsmoker architecture from the seventies- recycled beer can Bucky Fullerdomes with used tire solar heat collectors?

David Davenport said...

how many days until that high school's signature tower is covered in spray paint?

Would that be vandalism, or youthful MexAmerican artists' aesthetic contribution to their school?

Does the architect realize whom he is building for?

Whom? Himself, that's who.

josh said...

Re "dearimie":LOL! At least that ugly monolithic POS wasnt designed by Frank Gehry,alias Frank Goldberg! It wouldve been worse! And Steves comment that it looks lie its aiming a giant ray gun at the cathedral----thats exactly what it looks like! I cant see plodding I-cant-wait-til-i-can-droput-and-work-to-support-my-family-and -my-car Hispanics being happy in this thing. Why not a nice normal modern attractive fun building where kids can be happy to go to? Not that many,if any, high schools,which tend to be ugly foreboding Temples of Doom,look good;I guess this is not much worse than the rest!

Anonymous said...

Truth wrote:



The Frank Ghery thing is kind of like GANGSTER RAP FOR RICH OLD WHITE GUYS:

On of you pulls up, lets down your tinted car window at the stoplight and subjects everyone within earshot to your ill-conceived odious version of art, except that the light aint' gonna change for the next 150 years."




Truth, I vigorously agree with you on this point. In fact, much of academia is -infected- with noveau ideologies (think Derridia, Sartre, Foucault) that is pretty much the same thing: intellectual gangster rap designed to insure academic "street" cred by being so edgy and 'authentic'. Hell, much of modern art is pretty much the same thing. I seen a snippet of an art exhibition that had a bicycle seat as a dog's head, and other ordinary objects glued together to make up the animal's body. The "piece" was called "Black Dog" in homage to the old Led Zeppelin song. A thirteen-year-old could have made it, easily. It was not "art". Beautiful sculptures and paintings are art, putting junk together that vaguely resemble another object isn't art------its just snarky juvenilia and needs to be called such.

Im not against "modern" buildings, but the "form-follows-function" argument used to explain modern architecture doesn't explain these buildings as they have much that is completely uneccessary. That waterslide-looking-thingy assuredly serves no purpose at all, except for being "edgy" and looking "vanguard". Whatever it cost, it was a waste, by definition going against the grain of modernism was supposed to be.



BTW-----Ive been told that many of Frank Lloyd Wright's houses had leaky roofs and drafts.


miles

Anonymous said...

Testing 99 said:
"In defense of Mexican culture and architecture, it's quite true that Mexico produced a lot of stunning visual artists, muralist, painters and so on. Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera come to mind."


Ah, such a lovely painting of such a lovely woman:

Frida Kahlo's self portrait:

http://hipretty.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/frida-kahlo-self-protrait-1940.jpg

Oh, yeah, Frida Kahlo is stunning all right. Stunning like the when-someone-hits-you-over-the-head- with-a-club-and-knocks-you-cuckoo kind of stunning.

Gaaack

Oh. Here's another visual stunner:

http://rawartint.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/fridakahlowithouthope.jpg

That one hurt my eye.

or for the gluttons for punishment among us, enjoy:
http://thedreamatists.files.wordpress.com/2007/08/suicide-frida-kahlo-b.jpg

Paleo said...

Modern architecture has much in common with modern art: they're both ugly as hell, and they're both symptoms of the decline of Western culture.

Grumpy said...

These ugly buildings have nothing to do with Mexican immigrants, and everything to do with trendy European architects who just want to show off how avant-garde they are, and couldn't care less about creating something of beauty.

JR said...

Where I live, all the attractive buildings were built before WWII. Everything that's been built since then looks horrid. WWII was about when architecture in this country went bad.

LBK said...

I vote for traditional architecture. The modern stuff looks horrible.

Near where I live there is a stretch of highway known as "Church Row" because there are 5houses of worship along it in a half-mile. Driving by you can see a side-by side comparison of different styles of architecture. There are 2 Protestant churches that are very modern and ugly, then a Roman Catholic church that is more traditional and more attrative. Then there is an Eastern Orthodox church that is still more traditional and attractive.

Most good-looking of all is the brand-new Mosque, built in authentic Old World style with no visible concessions to modernity. It looks like it was airlifted directly from the Mideast to the Midwest.

Also very visually pleasing is a new Hindu temple in traditional style. Interestingly, it is on the opposite side of town from the Mosque. Perhaps these two groups instinctively realize that they shouldn't live too close together.

Anonymous said...

"i'm beginning to think that calling these people "hispanics" is itself some kind of political correctness. now these do nothing, invent nothing, contribute nothing american indians and mestizos are somehow associated with the spanish and anything the spanish have done, instead of with their own backwater, third world culture."

Funnily enough, the Hispanics and Native Americans that I know, seem to have a very high artistic bent. I would say far higher than any random group of Euros I have ever known.

Bill said...

We must have something in common, Steve. Although I am no golfer, I love wandering golf courses under a full moon, and I find modern "art" to be a bad joke at best.

Here's a Chinese golf artist I found some time ago:

Chen Wenbo

Not brilliant, but pleasant at least. My best friend in Beijing is a fanatic golfer. I wonder whether we will see some of the world's most spectacular golf courses in Asia soon. It certainly would follow some of the traditions of the Qing dynasty, what with the Yuanmingyuan (criminally burnt by the British) and other such superb parks.

Perhaps you should go play there, Steve.

Anthony said...

San Francisco hates the federal government, and the fedgov returned the favor, with their new building. That picture doesn't show how really ugly it is.

Steve Sailer said...

Thom Mayne designed that SF federal building. His CalTrans building in downtown LA could serve as the Ministry of Love headquarters in a movie version of 1984.

Galactic Overlord said...

"Planet Japania"... for some reason, I can't get "Intergalactic" (Beastie Boys) out of my head, either the song or the music video.

For those of you who aren't familiar with it, the video features a giant Japanese robot breakdancing (just the "popping" part, nothing really acrobatic) and battling a squid-like monster.

I can just see that high school coming to life and fighting the cathedral to the Beastie Boys...

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

Just want to add that Spanish architecture is influenced by Arab architecture.

Yes but Arab architecture borrowed heavily from the Byzantine style.

Just keep repeating the PC crap they taught you in school.

The real problem with modern architecture - and much of modern art, period - is that there are too many artists looking to break new ground. Properly applying established forms, or simple, subtel variations on them, isn't good enough because no one will remember you.

CJ said...

A community college in my area recently built a seven-story building for health sciences education (various nursing courses, pharmacy training, et cetera). It cost $50 million Canadian. Spending $242 million US for a high school is beyond absurd.

robert said...

Maybe both the arts school and the cathedral could be taken over by the $outhern Poverty Law Center, whose bosses', uh, brutalistic architectural taste has already been discussed in a previous Steve Sailer post.

David said...

Narcitecture.

The dead craft of narcissistic architects.

SF said...

http://img12.imageshack.us/img12/2064/dsc03610swc.jpg
The Italians have a little more flair. This "midieval castle" at the end of the park in the Tuscan Hill Town of Volterra is actually a modern prison.

p said...

Just listened to airtalk piece on the high school. No mention of how expensive this monstrosity is...

Anonymous said...

Spending $242 million US for a high school is beyond absurd.

Absurd? It all depends on which side of the 'who? whom?' equation you are on. It sounds like you don't understand that this stuff is a form of warfare.

From Marx to Lenin & Gramsci, to the Frankfurt School, to Alinsky...

It's all so complex. Don't bother trying to understand it. You probably don't have the intellectual firepower.

So just keep drinking your beer and watching sports on your prolefeed. And when gigantic monstrosities like these suddenly pop up alongside the road on your commute to work, just tell yourself that it's not important. Just like the FISA court. And the national eavesdropping program. And the Attorney General's statements on gun confiscations etc.

Everything's cool, man.

Nick said...

"Funnily enough, the Hispanics and Native Americans that I know, seem to have a very high artistic bent. I would say far higher than any random group of Euros I have ever known."

Graffiti is not art.

KlaosOldanburg said...

that was hilarious, steve.

wake up said...

>In defense of Mexican culture and architecture, it's quite true that Mexico produced a lot of stunning visual artists, muralist, painters and so on. Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera come to mind.

testing99, frida kahlo goes in the same bin as lee krasner, yoko ono and that girl who married kurt cobain.

yes there have been great female artists in the world. but hardly ever are the talented female artists married to famous male artists..........the artistic women married to famous artists usually have other business skills or promotional talents. perhaps insecure male artists no matter how talented tend to avoid taking truly talented artists as wives.

Lucius Vorenus said...

So - my post on bolshevik nihilism & the "architecture" of Tel Aviv - was it censored, or was it lost in the ether?

Kurika said...

"Castillans and so on are of mixed descent" = True, but...
Iberians = Mediterranics
Kelts = Nordics-Alpins
Romans = Alpins-"Med"-Dinarics
Visigotics = Nordics
Arabs = Mediterranics
Jewish = Mediterranics
Berbers = Mediterranics
And guess what? - All Caucasians!
Now compare with North Americans ...

Victoria said...

I would love to read a Tom Wolfe essay-review on these two buildings -- the Robot and the Cathedral. He needs to update his From Bauhaus to Our House and The Painted Word (was that the title?) There's been so much more fun stuff since then.

J said...

Great post.

michael freeman said...

When I first saw it, I thought it was a cool waterslide. Now I think it looks like oppression and death.