Thursday, February 02, 2006

What's Wrong with this Streetscape?

Friends, come with me.

Pretend we're driving or walking along, heading east on Webster Avenue just before Halsted Street. We're looking north. Here's what we'll see:

Every time I go by that house, I think, well, first I cringe, then I think, "How dare those owners foul this charming street scene with their ego-centric-screw-the-streetscape-me-me-me design?"

They may be kind to dogs and treat children with grace, but they sure ruined the charm of this part of Webster Avenue. Their house is like the annoying party guest that everyone secretly wishes never arrived because we were all having such a lovely time before they came and began boasting about their big modern selves.

And, this is not a bash on contemporary architecture. I'm a genuine fan of it, but there's a time and place for everything. This is not it. There are plenty of other streets within a few blocks where this structure would fit right in with no harm to the charm.

Shame, too, on Crain's Chicago Business for naming this home to their "20 Coolest Houses" list last year. Bah!

We desperately need conversations and education in this town about how all the architecture fits together. We need to be reminded again and again and again that the whole fabric of a community is much greater than the sum of its parts.

In other words, I don't care who your architect is, honoring context is sometimes everything.


Michael Allen said...

Egad. It could have made the same statement at a much more appropriate scale.

What's the house to the right of it? That one looks scary, too.

Jennifer said...

Yes, that other house is not great either, but it was much, much easier to overlook because of its brick facade and analogous scale. This house reminds me of a giant screen tv set in a room too small to handle it.