Broad sides

As news of the continued delay of the Slash has become widespread, stories about its supporters and detractors have begun to surface. One recent article has focused on the public’s diverging opinions on the work.

While I dislike the building, I am comfortable that others find it acceptable and even welcome its presence. Unlike many of the supporters featured in the article, I refuse to return the name calling or dismissive jabs. Rather than offering support for the building on its own merits, these supporters have resorted to mocking the apparent small-mindedness or cultural myopia of its detractors. If one shames enough people into thinking they will be called quaint, just how many will be willing to express their disdain?

I take exception to the notion that, by opposing the building, I am somehow a Luddite or a “grump.” As a matter of fact, I am a (relatively) “smart, art-appreciating” architect with significant public and private experience in building design and urbanism. Whether someone else is paying for the building is immaterial, for we all must now endure it. That it sits at the foot of my own residential street is additionally galling.

Ultimately, if the community wishes an actual dialog about the building – that is, a discussion that includes two points of view – it serves no purpose to belittle those whose opinion differs from our own. Comments for and against the museum ought to focus on the work itself. I do not believe that the building is objectively good, yet I count many of its supporters as respected colleagues.

I will close with one marginally encouraging anecdote. Recently walking along Grand Avenue with my daughters, it struck me how the museum willfully inserts itself in the existing composition featuring the statues of Cassiopeia and Andromeda, possibly completing the mythological legend. Instead of a sea monster, the chained princess in the median is overshadowed by the equally tactless, overbearing and horrific presence of the museum. If that was its creator’s intent, I say it has succeeded.

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