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Hating the Ohio Union

Home Forums General Columbus Discussion Hating the Ohio Union

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  • #357443

    Bear
    Participant

    Rockmastermike wrote >>
    man I am so done with this thread and all the pretentious art-wanks who have nothing better to do than rip apart someone else’s efforts.

    http://www.columbusunderground.com/forums/topic/ohio-union-on-campus-impressive

    #357444

    Rockmastermike
    Participant

    you’re right, of course. On a cooler day, I was urged to look back here and that statement is Retracted with apologies.

    I should not call everyone in a thread who hates a building just because it’s not fancy enough for them “pretentious art wanks”.

    That being said, however, an entire thread dedicated to insulting the work of architects who worked very diligently to create as functional and attractive a space as possible within budgetary, structural, and god knows what other demands from god knows who else just because you don’t happen to like the particular aesthetic they used on their property strikes me as one of the most egregious forms of snobbery and is for reasons I will not go into here, deeply offensive.

    If you’re that upset about it then join a university commission (if you’re affiliated with the university… it’s their property after all) that will be working with the architects doing the NEXT building and be constructive instead of pointlessly negative and harshing on someone else’s aesthetic standards.

    #357445

    Thanks for the apology RMM. And if any of the designers are reading this, I’m sorry I said your building looks like a nut. I guess what I should’ve said is that it’s not very attractive, and there are lots of others just like it.

    I guess a lot of people would say that “hating” on the new Ohio Union is unproductive. I disagree. A prominent building like this is going to incite controversy no matter what it looks like. That controversy is, to me, a pretty valuable critical conversation that ties together shared spaces, social issues, economics, and more. Why are emotions so high on this issue? A lot of people want to defend the architect.

    And yes, Moody Nolan probably had to please a lot of people with their design. Which is what makes it generic. It’s very “safe” in the sense that it doesn’t depart far from most other recently build giant multi-purpose university constructions. I’m not trying to attack the architect. In fact, there’s no architect to attack; this building the product of a design team tasked with pleasing lots and lots of people.

    Which is exactly what they did. Just not me. And again, what’s wrong with that? This thread will get buried under billions of other threads on the internet and in a year nobody will care or remember what Sugarplumclarey thought of the Ohio Union. But my larger point will (hopefully) remain: there’s plenty of value in the critical conversation about our designed environment.

    #357446

    shmack
    Member

    the university i went to completed a student center my freshman year. it too was greeted with much criticism, particularly of the “too modern” variety. see below.

    seems to me that it’s impossible to please everyone all the time so why not just be top down about the whole process. the fact that the union has a tavern serving awesome local beers automatically beats out lerner hall and its soulless food options.

    #357447

    labi
    Participant

    Having a functional inside does not cancel out having a boring outside. The existence of other buildings that have interesting outsides but dysfunctional insides does not make the desire for a building to have BOTH interesting (or even just beautiful) outsides AND functional insides a wrong desire. Most buildings do not succeed at both inside and outside. The rarity of that occurrence is what makes great buildings great. Why should we not hope for great and be allowed to be disappointed when great doesn’t happen?

    I just don’t think it’s wrong to say that one is disappointed by the appearance of a building. I kind of can’t believe how just a few statements of disappointment have brought down such a vehement chorus of “YOU’RE SO MEEEEEAN” and “you have no right to say that because you’re not a (whatever/whoever they think has a ‘right’ to express an opinion)” and personal insults. How are we ever supposed to talk about anything we disagree on if this is how it goes? Jeez, people!

    #357448

    I don’t want to belabor this, but I will respond to one comment from another thread.

    as I said in my last edit (sorry I’m kind of worked up about this). I will try harder to make sure nothing is going to be construed as “personal”, but honestly I see some of what was going on in that thread as a form of “anonymous internet tough guy syndrome”.

    I don’t think someone should post something insulting about someone’s artistic work that they probably wouldn’t be willing to say to someone’s face.

    It’s especially personally galling and insulting to me in this case because I have seen just how hard some of my architect friends worked on these kind of public structures (even though I do not know if anyone I know worked on this one) and I can imagine their reaction to reading this and seeing their work belittled by people who likely have no idea of the constraints that the work was placed under or the end aesthetic goal of the client who was paying the bill. They would probably be far less civil than I have been in response.

    My spouse and most of my friends are architects, which may be at play in my criticism. If you went to architecture school, which the designers of this building did, then you’ve grown a very thick skin when it comes to anyone criticizing your work. I’m not trying to be anonymous, and I would be glad to take part in a conversation with the architects about how I think corporate design damages our culture.

    I also don’t think you can successfully draw an analogy to “huge public building that was the process of many years and people” to “individual small-scale personal art show.” the very fact that these two examples are so different is one basis for my opinion; the metrics for evaluating each of these things is very different.

    Not sure if I have anything very valuable to add to the fray, so I’ll zip it. For now :)

    #357449

    byJody
    Participant

    sugarplumclarey wrote >>
    My spouse and most of my friends are architects, which may be at play in my criticism. If you went to architecture school, which the designers of this building did, then you’ve grown a very thick skin when it comes to anyone criticizing your work.

    I’m married to an architect too.

    “If you went to architecture school, then you’ve grown a very thick skin when it comes to anyone criticizing your work”.
    Agreed

    This building will win awards.

    #357450

    Rockmastermike
    Participant

    sugarplumclarey wrote >>
    Thanks for the apology RMM. And if any of the designers are reading this, I’m sorry I said your building looks like a nut. I guess what I should’ve said is that it’s not very attractive, and there are lots of others just like it.

    Thank you for accepting my apology in the humble (if poorly articulated) spirit with which it is offered.

    I will try to explain. I was angry, but it was not really at YOU.

    Educated and insightful specific criticism is a good thing, let me just start from that premise.

    I was (and am) angry at an idea. The idea that public structural design is held to a different standard than other art. Would we ever see a “hate” thread about some other form of art?

    I think that running into an art gallery during a gallery hop night opening and shouting “THIS SHIT STINKS! YOUR CRAPPY PAINTINGS ARE STINKING UP HIGH STREET!” is clearly not acceptable. I hope not anyway.

    We would rightly criticize someone as (to be more polite than most would be in the situation) “not appreciating the aesthetic” who says loudly at an art gallery full of abstract paintings the old tired line “MY KID COULD PAINT BETTER THAN THAT!” or some buffoon who loudly complains when he sees the lovely classical works of a Rubenesque style that he “doesn’t like fat chicks”.

    Now those are really extreme examples, and a LOT more extreme than anything that was said in this thread, but I feel that there is a similarity. That is, insulting and ripping on someone’s work in public just because the viewer doesn’t like the particular aesthetic being demonstrated.

    It is tacitly accepted in the arts that people like different kinds of artistic styles and it’s mostly accepted that it’s boorish to insult someone else’s tastes and work just because they are different from your own. Yet somehow structural design is immune to this rule? Why?

    Again, polite insightful criticism is always an acceptable and vital resource, but it seems horrifically unfair to be as vaguely judgmental in public discourse as some people have been (not just here) just because you don’t LIKE a particular aesthetic, or you think it’s “boring”. And it’s also indirectly insulting in a visceral way those who DO like it.

    Some have offered some great critiques. The idea that a building with more modern lines would be a cool asset and would blend with the nearby law school is one of them. It’s the others who get my dander up.

    Like it or not SOMEONE (even if it was a team) designed this and is likely very proud of themselves and they should be. Would some of the more insulting things written here about this work have been said to those people face to face? Perhaps, but I doubt it, and I especially doubt it it were any other art form. And I really think Walker would be justified in not allowing some of it, but he’s a hands off kinda guy, and CU is undoubtedly better for that!

    ALso, SHMACK is right on. It would be IMPOSSIBLE to please everyone. All you can do is TRY. Also, I think that with public structures like this one that the public has a responsibility to recognize that these buildings are a compromise on every side and usually NOBODY is entirely happy with the result, yet they are almost always better for the people who are using them then what came before.

    Anyway, that’s what is pissing me off (one of many things really), and I apologize if my initial angry outburst has offended anyone personally.

    #357451

    Rockmastermike
    Participant

    sugarplumclarey wrote >>
    I also don’t think you can successfully draw an analogy to “huge public building that was the process of many years and people” to “individual small-scale personal art show.” the very fact that these two examples are so different is one basis for my opinion; the metrics for evaluating each of these things is very different.

    Fair enough,

    but I think that in both cases some standard of criticism can be judged as constructive and another standard will simply come across as vague pointless negativity about the style that artist chose to project and not the execution.

    #357452

    Rockmastermike wrote >>

    sugarplumclarey wrote >>
    I also don’t think you can successfully draw an analogy to “huge public building that was the process of many years and people” to “individual small-scale personal art show.” the very fact that these two examples are so different is one basis for my opinion; the metrics for evaluating each of these things is very different.

    Fair enough,
    but I think that in both cases some standard of criticism can be judged as constructive and another standard will simply come across as vague pointless negativity about the style that artist chose to project and not the execution.

    Thanks for your cordial and thoughtful follow-up. My problem is with the aesthetics, yes. But it goes much deeper than that. I have trouble with how capitalism drives design. The fact that a structure is designed by few, but occupied by many, invites a certain social critique. There are different implications for a public space than for a gallery hanging.

    How many times have people said stuff like:

    “I hate Wendy’s!” or “I hate popped collars!” What you mean is that you hate WHAT THEY REPRESENT: processed food, or a certain lifestyle. And you may have an aesthetic aversion to go along with that. But it’s no more a criticism of Dave Thomas or Ralph Lauren than mine is a personal jab at Curt Moody. More like Adam Smith :)

    #357453

    Rockmastermike
    Participant

    sugarplumclarey wrote >>
    Thanks for your cordial and thoughtful follow-up. My problem is with the aesthetics, yes. But it goes much deeper than that. I have trouble with how capitalism drives design. The fact that a structure is designed by few, but occupied by many, invites a certain social critique.

    I know the frustration there. Office buildings, yeah, they build ’em cheap to make as much money as possible. Been there, seen it happen, rolled my eyes at some of the corners that were cut and I’m not even commenting on the way they look.

    I know only a small part of the capital end of this particular story, but I suspect it played a more complex roll than just simply capital outlay verses profit when it came to the aesthetics and I suspect the more intangible realities actually played a larger part than the actual capitalist reality.

    What I know:

    that Students paid for at least some part of the building with fees. When these fees were also applied to grad students without corresponding increase in their university pay checks, it amounted to a pay cut for grad students to fund building the building (and a separate fee for the athletic center!). Needless to say there was some real displeasure there. (I left before it happened, but I know some were really pissed).

    What I suspect:
    A greater problem for the university may have been for the building to have been perceived (maybe not really, but perceptually) as being made more expensive than it really needed to be solely for aesthetic reasons. Remember this kind of thinking dogged the Wex for years different ways, even though it had private backing. I remember a lot of grumbling about it. The university may still be remembering that too. I get the strange feeling the university walks a VERY thin line between this perception and the reality when it comes to building design.

    I can’t help but wonder… How many angry students before the university sees a dip in enrollment or even a grad student walk-out (which was actually discussed at one point!). More likely incoming students simply see the fees and stipends, talk to angry grad students who may feel their fees are being blown on an overly ornate boondogle, compare that to other universities and decide to go to other schools.

    I’m not saying that minimizing that very real student anger was foremost on their minds, but I bet it was there along with a gazillian other issues

    I suppose really it is the effect of choosing which direction you want that social critique to go. Some kinds of criticisms may be less dangerous than others.

    I’m certain nothing I’ve said here is terribly original, but I’m saying I can certainly understand an organization erring on the side of caution in both capital and the perception of capital issues.

    #357454

    rory
    Participant

    I really wonder if the architects think of the building as art?

    or is it just a decent job to have with a decent firm.

    I still think it’s corporate architecture and I still think that OSU could have picked a more forward thinking design. And quality architecture doesn’t mean it has to leak or be insufferable inside and out. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be super cutting edge. The Jackson on High is a great design that for all intensive purposes also appears to be functional. I think it’s just disappointing that OSU sets the bar so low for architecture. Most of their gateway buildings (South Campus Gateway, Ohio Union) just say middle-management, not world class institution.

    As for the fee part I’d be more pissed with the “cost cutter” version they’ve built.

    #357455

    swan
    Participant

    not trying to beat a dead horse… but here’s a great video that concerns the subject of aesthetics and beauty vs ugly and a paycheck in relation to making money as a designer.

    it’s overly clear that the union falls into the latter category.

    it’s also completely hilarious how emotionally invested certain people in this thread have become despite having no formal understanding (or really any understanding) of the profession but are still more than willing to put down other people based on their opinions.

    #357456

    Blurred
    Member

    Spot on. The thing that really gets to me is that you would never argue with a lawyer about law and you would never argue with a doctor about medicine. However, when it comes to architecture, people not only argue with architects, but they actually think they know more and understand better, what a good building is. You would think that people would be thrilled to talk about architecture with actual architects. As Turns out, no.

    #357457

    Mercurius
    Participant

    I just wish we had a Packard and Yost still working in Columbus. It is a great building in that it blends well with the rest of the landscape and is exponentially more functional than before; I hold that form equals function, so that is high praise. However, I also believe that designers should use the most prevalent material of their day and try to make that fit the landscape around the building and do that with as minimal intrusion as equals function. Those materials don’t include brick, or even worse, faux brick facades. That is where, I feel, the architects missed the challenge. It’s a beautiful design – but they chose the wrong exterior material from what I’ve been taught.

    From here on out, let’s cast faux brick to the curb and never use it again. I’m looking at you Arena District.

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