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Thoughts on urban planning, city design, architecture, the built environment, social issues, Seoul, Korea, and soon... London

13.7.04

Look at me! - Landmark Buildings 

SocietyGuardian.co.uk Society Look at me!

Graham Morrison touches on a lot of good points in this article, and ideas it presents harkens to issues raised by both Bacon and Kevin Lynch (and even way back to Sixtus V). Landmark buildings have valuable functions, but too many -- as we see with the replication of the image -- depletes each building's significance and its ability to play an individual role, reducing it to a "one-liner".

From a city design point of view, landmarks have power as an organizing force in their capacity to draw and project energy. They standout in peoples mental images and (can) help create a sense of place (i.e. endowing it and, more importantly, its surroundings with a unique identity).

Morrison suggests a criteria of what constitutes a successful landmark -- an architectural icon: a building must be "visually impressive, workable and in keeping with their surroundings without compromising architectural integrity".

This, however, sounds much like the attributes most architects aspire (or should aspire) to when designing buildings. Obviously, not every building achieves this and many, despite the hopes of designers, are not made to be so on account of clients' wants. To play devil's advocate, what if every building made did meet this criteria, how would we fulfill the role architectural icons currently play? Silly question, really.


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