Style versus Scale


Yes, one can be an architect with the titanic dimension of Michelangelo at St. Peter’s, or with the miniscule one of Borromini at San Carlo, represented here at the same scale to underscore the contrast. But the temptation of the Tower of Babel is always present in the construction world, and the kings with cloaks of Brueghel are today replaced by developers in raincoats. The ‘nostalgia of the infinite’ that De Chirico painted inspired by the Mole Antonelliana is chorally crystallized in the skyscrapers of contemporary metropolises, prefigured in complementary directions by the filmmaker Fritz Lang and the draftsman Hugh Ferriss. Today, architects make El Lissitzky’s dreams come true with no effort, and skyscrapers become urban thresholds in Madrid or Beijing with the same advertising impact for the city as that of their authors in the media; the leaning towers of Johnson or Koolhaas are silhouetted against the skyline as instant logos that hope to redeem the anonymous triviality of the metropolitan profile, and the old vertical and phallic buildings give way to a new generation of faceted and vaginal loops, devised years ago and prompted today by spectacle to enter the exhausted stage of the customary city...[+]

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