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SL: Do you agree with most of the arch itectural press's assertion that only your Entertainment Center escaped Disney-itis because it is the only un-themed building at EuroOisneyland?

The Disney Corporation has become a prestigious

seems to have escaped, but in aher-the-opening views it looks caught. I didn't want to go to the opening because I was worried I might not like it and even when I accepted the job I knew it was going to be precarious. But I didn't want to be holier-than-thou about what I coined "entertainment architecture." which is not

client among architects. The attention being paid by the architectural press to Disney's recent commission of several prominent architects has made much of the participation of high-profile architecture in this major cultural enterprise. Through this exchange, both parties gain validation: Disney as a high-culture patron and architecture as a popular endeavor. The buildings commiSSioned by Disney have been those associated with the corporate side-hotels. offices, convention centers-of the company famous for theme parks and cinematic fantasy.

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In before-the-opening views, the building

Los Angeles





NE W SLETTER Febru ary 1993 IN TH IS ISSUE : The M ediated Environment


Essavs on EuroD,snev and other u,ban landsClllleS tlv F,an~ Owen Ge~'V. And'ea Kann. Nma B Lesse'. Jonathan Massev. D~oa L Webber_ N.choln Low,e. II pho to essav bV 1("5\.ne Larsen. and more Nomad>e ThoughtS

ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN (OR r SOME UNTHEMED THOUGHTS ANDREA KAHN ON EURODISNEY) SEPTEM BER 20. 1992; A FRIEND S APARTMENT, PARIS: 路路Agriculture. c'est pas Disne yland" s tates a farmer in the studio of France Tele 2, during a broadcast o f the ECC referendum returns. (Agriculture, c'est pas


Disne yland-well, maybe, or m aybe not. Both are big business, both engage in foreign trade. Bo th seem to incur major losses, both beg the question o f concrols. Of course, agri-business alw ays depends on the continued on page 5

9 e h ry + Ia vi n continued (rom page'

architecture, but which IS also not non路archltecture. Even though journalists shouldn't be talking about It In columns devoted to Architecture with a capital ~A~, il you think 01 the Columbian E)(positiOfl of 1893, some Imponant things did develop Irom that ~ entertainment arch i teClure .~ In lact. initially I was very interested in the relationSh ip be tween these two kinds of arChitecture and II gave me some hope about what the whole place might be like. I had asked the Disney people to bnng In Rem Koolhaas, Jean Nouvel, Hans Holleln, Arata Isozaki, Peter Eisenman, Potzamparc-and some of these architects were even hired to do studies. I thought there was a growing interest In European architects, the project was in Europe, they already had all the Amencans on their list. and since the whole thing could have been an e)(penmen t of sorts, I thought they should have a variety of people. When I was asked who my choices were, I suggested tough guys, not push..over poSlmodernlsts. Then they cancelled all these people who had been hired to studies-in a single meeting Disney shdted against the tough guys. Sl: How dependent did you feel your ability 10 be a tough guy was on not having a theme. Would you have accep ted the job had it come with a theme and would you accept another Disney Job even If 1\ was un-themed! FOG: No and never, Olsney suggested I might do a huge hotel. They didn't know what the hotel's theme was yet, but it would have had a theme and I couldn't do the project, In the end, however, Ilound that I had become guilty by aSSOCiation. The entertainment center, in the conte)(t of all the other stuff, became a theme building anyway. The building became a ~Frank Gehry~ theme bUilding. Sl: Do you thmk that Frank Gehry architecture is particularly susceptible to becoming its own theme? FOG: I think it would have happened to anybody. It might even have been worse for some others. Thmk what would have happened to Rem Koolhaas. Smce he tends toward stylization-he plays around w ith the styles 01 the 1940s and 1950s and uses a kind 01 Harrison I Abramowitz language-in some ways he gets close to being themed already. SL:

What constitutes a theme?

FOG: M ichael Graves was given New York or " Metropolis " as a theme and he took theming very seriously. But il no one had said anything, I can imagine that he might have evolved Irom nowhere the idea 01 a hotel with towers and turrets representing some urban downtown . 11 you did a huge hotel in France on the banks 01 a lake, a reasonable strategy would be to make towers and turrets like those at Chambord or a million other places, That strategy could develop toward an urban idea with connotations of downtown cit ies-it could end up looking like New York but it would not be themed by Disney and would stand some chance of being honest . The architect could have evolved his own theme without realizing that he was being themed. It's the conte)(t of Mickey Mouse and Disneyland itself. where everything from Main Street to Magic Castles is already ersatz, that changes everything. Claes Oldenburg wouldn 't do anything there. He felt that no matter how tough something he did might be, in that conte)(1. it would be coopted by the real thing, which is the ersatz thing. The force--to sell \finkets, and rides and ersatz experience-is powerful enough to coopt anything. If Le Corbusier had built Romchamp at EuroDisneyland, it would have been a themed church, J don't think anyone can survive. That's the lesson of EuroDlsney-you can't w in and you can't survive. A pound 01 Mickey is WOflh a hundred pounds of everything else. What does the EuroDisneyland phenomenon have of signifiSL: cance to say to architecture? FOG: In the last analysis, I don't think EuroDisney IS abou t archltec, ture, even though I think we all believe that Michael Eisner is brilliant and that he is genuinely interested in architecture, In many regards it's thanks to Eisner that Michael Graves has dona really interesting work for Disney-with about another 10 dollars a square foot, his bUildings could have been reatly great . We believed in Eisner's struggle to prove to his partners that they could do good architecture at even the cheapest level. But the truth is that everybody understands architecture in dillerent ways, and I think that Eisner's conception is closer to Robert Stern, Michael Graves and Prince Charles's understanding than it is to my own , All during our design process there was another architect doing the same building only with a theme----he was being paid a parallel fee to do parallel work all the way through deSign development. If at any moment they had decided to dump us, they wouldn't have lost any time. I was reasonably prepared for thaI, since it' s the way Hollywood works . Several sCleen wri ters work on the same scnpt Simultaneously. From Elsner's standpoint, thiS represented a commitment to architecture. Ironically, when they finally saw the Festival hall deSigns, they were ecstatlc-our prolect IS pretty theatrical and we had tried to make a good shoppmg center. But that 's before Mickey Mouse got al it


SL Can and should an architect make a good piece of architecture that is also a successful shopping center? Is there a difference between accommodating and facilitating shopping? FOG : In my opinion the question IS not whether we can but the fac t that we must be able to make shopping centers. I've always complained that architects like me don't do shopping centers. That's why I did Santa Monica Place . But, jusllike al EuroDisney, something got lost there too-they came In with all their stuff and it's overwhelming . I've seen Roosevelt Fields. a shopping center In New York that I.M . Pel did--it's very Mlesian and II looked like liT. Pel controlled every detail, buIll failed miserably because it was too sophisticated. It was a bad shoppmg center. So, how do you make a good shopping center? I made Disney stronger than Santa Monica place--its image was s!rongel-and the goal was not just \0 allow people to shop, but to actually encourage them to shop. The idea was that during the day the building would be fairly benign, but then, after 4:00 In the dull Paris sky, It would come to hIe and it would become irresistible. I accepted that as part of the program and I didn't feel lhat I was selling out just by accepting the program . My concern was how 10 make architecture, Instead of JUSt bUilding, that people would respond to and use and that would enflch theIr experience, Had t pusned a hltle narder and gotten more involved in the design 01 all the elements, I think it could have been different. -that was my mls-calculatlon . I thought the s!rength 01 the building 's image could hold the stuff Disney pas ted on to it, and by the lime I realized it COUldn't. it was too late. In the context of Disneyland you can't escape. But if I took this same building and put it somewhere else, including the barrage of graphiCS, it would be sustainable. One would have to be involved at an extreme level of detail. and avoiding Oisney's tendency to homogenize everything might even require collaboration . If Koolhaas, Eisenman, Venturi and Hollein had been building EuroDisney, I can imagine us ending up with 8 better thing. Not a better Disneyland. At the end 01 the day, I think maybe architecture and Disney don't mix. SL: You place a great deal of emphasis on Disney's capacity to negate truthfulness. Is the rest of the world outside Disney so much more innocent? FOG: There IS a question of cflhcal mass. Two Rodeo Drive IS Disney outside of Disneyland. But then there's Wilshire Boulevard which is Simply more honest-there IS a toughness about reality that you can'! fake . Some pieces along Wilshire BOUlevard may be contrived, but Wilshire itself was not contrived in total. The whole is bigger than any of its parts . Disney is all chocolate sundaes and the whole is simply overwhelming, Simply by bemg there you get covered In whipped cream, I believe in the difference between reality and illusion. To be overpowered by th e real is one thing, to be overpowered by the ersatz is something else. Disney needs illUSion to sell, and theirs is a seduc tion that uses nostalgia. but, in the end, they \00 are overpowered by their own images. Eisner really wants to be a patron 01 architec ture-he would like to be a Medici, but smce he eXists as part of a corporate structure, defmed by the bottom line, his engine can't really be lueled by architecture, He can't escape his own context any more than architecture can. But Elsner still represents a ray of hope-he's a major client, he's very smart and he's already taken a long shot for which he should be congra tulated, But what he could Stili do is lake a leading role in getting the movie industry involved in city building, If you think of how important something like Fritz Lang's Metlopolls has been to our understanding of Cilles, thmk what It moght be like If arChotects ware encouraged to develop a three-dimenSional Metropolis , it they were given a chance to update that Image and fmd a new model appropria te to our own time. That could be e~cltlng and Elsner could help get us th ere, As it stands now, Disney's job is to always lOOk good in contrast to society's degeneration , Given the ra te 01 our social disintegration, maybe Disney will look even better in three hundred years. Maybe In that context, Elsner WIll seem like the MediC! and Disney Will look like Florence


,on,;nu.d (,omp.g.'

The Disney prOlects tell us once 3g3m and even more emphati cally what Ihe stalus of the architectural profession IS within the cultural marke t Disney's Ihemed enVIronments, from Disneyland to EuroOlsney, are among the most popular and effective deSigned enVironments In the world, and their success certainly rehes on t he combination of architectural prinCiples With other representational technologles_ The tasks given to architects, however, seem rather to mark Ihe profeSSion as the necessary other to the distinctive and complex deSigning of theme parks_ The attraction of the Imagmeered theme park proper IS heightened and articulated by Its juxtapoSition WIth the architect-designed support fac ili ties. Disney Corporation calls upon architecture precisely to IlIusllate the banality of everyday lil e. If thiS IS how Disney makes use of architecture. wha t the n does architecture see In Disney? Dlsneyland's layered complexity IS take n seriously by cr it ical profeSSionals as an Idealized environment In which the Implementation of planning and deSign IS used to form a coherent yet discontinuous whole Its utopian spa tial, social and mechanical seQuenCing IS admired for Its success at draWing mass audiences and Influencing them to participate In the orchesllatlon 01 their pleasure. Two recent essays on Disneyland. united by political ambition but separated by d iSCiplinary boundarres, POint up a d ilemma conflontlng the archlte<:turallelt A comparrson of the ways M ichael Sorkin and Tom Carson construct progreSSive readings of Disneyland complicates oor understanding 01 the profeSSion's engagement With popular culture.

DISNEY URBANISM One of the latest architectural writings to address the subject of Disney IS Michael Sorkln's essay "See You In Disneyland." from the volume Vaflallons on a Theme Park. which he also edited. ThiS colIectlon draws from the diSCiplines of architecture. urban planning. geography and political science to represent a progressive sector of urbanist analysis and criticism. As the subtnle "The New American City and the End of Public Space" suggests. the essays share a dismay and outrage at the transformations in American urban form that have Increasingly displaced the traditional forms and spaces of public life . The backcover summary prOVides a conCise formulation of the premise that unites the collection "Amellca's ci ties are being rapidly tra nsformed by a Sinister and homogeneous deSign. A new kind of urbanism-manipulative. dispersed. and hostile to traditional public space-is emerging both at the heart and the edge of town In megamalls. corporate enclaves. gentrrfied zones, and pseudo-hlstonc marke tplaces" Sorkln's own assessment sets the te rms for hiS diSCUSSion of the Disney theme park s: · The familiar spaces of traditional Cities. the streets and sQuares. courtyards and parks, are our great scenes of the CIVIC. VISible and acceSSible. our binding agents. By describing the alternative. this book pleads lor a return to a more authentiC urbanity, a City based on phySical proximity and Iree movement and a sense that the city is our best expression of a deslle for collectiVity " The theme park IS, In Sork,n's phrase. · the place that embodIes It all. " The Disney enVIronmen ts are paradigmatic for Sorkin of the SOCial and spatial dimensions of the postrndustrial global economy of movement and consumption. · Dlsneyzone ...• • he writes. "Iconvertsl the celebration of production Into the production of cel ebration. The Pivot on which th iS transformation turns IS the essential alienation of the producer-turned,consumer. hiS or her dance to the routines of someon e else's imagining." In his conclud ing paragraphs. Sorkin wflles that ·Visitors to Disneyzone are reduced to the sta tus of cartoon characters . ThiS IS a common falling In UlOplan subJectiVity. the predication on a homogenized. underdlmensioned citizenship... In the Disney utopia. we all become involuntary flaneurs and flaneuses. global ddlters. holding high our lamps as we look everywhere for an honest Image'" Sorkin's wlltlngs admirably describe the new spaces of social life HIS call for a return 10 hlstoncal urban solu tions. however. fa lls 10 acknowledge that those very solUlions have been releCted by the populace that crowds Dlsney's streets and supports the en vironments of thiS new American city. Sorkln'S model of the ways In which Disney constructions are Interpreted and consumed exposes a set 01 disturbing assumptions about the relationships between pleasure. knowledge. and participation. Sorkin's disparagement of the pleasure take n In Disney and hiS concomitant call for a "return" to the forms of the modern City are bound up In hiS enactment of an avant-gardism of enlightenment. a from-the-top-down progreSSIVism that marginalizes and contains the value of hiS perceptive analySIS The terms In which he descrrbes the audience that pancclpates In Dlsneyzone las aCQuiescent puppets and cartoon characte rs ) eVinces a disdain for the very consti tuenCies In whose name hIS progreSSIVism makes ItS CII\IQue The capacity for cll tlcal self,awareness and sublectlvl ty IS denied to Disney VISitors and reserved for the ClltlC Wilting from the hyperspace of the contemporary traveling intelligentSia; It IS Sorkin himself who POSitS a homogenized and underdlmenSloned Citizenry for the negative utopia he sees In Disney. Sork,n's stance resounds disturbingly with the resentment of an Intellectual poSition that fee ls betrayed by the classes It asplled to represent and to lead. The most Sinister aspect of this argument IS ItS reliance on a modernist dialectiC of enlightenment and false conSCiousness: Sorkin's

utopianism of the tradl\lonal modern city ultimately reflects hiS nostalgia for a working class that conformed to avant-gardist expectallons

PARK NARRATIVES Tom Carson's article. "To Disneyland" [LA Weekly. v .14. n.17. March 27,Aprrl 2. 19921 also attempts a progressive reading of the theme park. but from a different set of SOCial perspectives and literary spaces. In contrast to Sorkln's view from above and outSide the park. Carson's text creates a fict ionalized narrative from InSide the park and Inside the Disney characters' SUi tS as well as hiS own psyche. Carson states near the beginning 01 hiS plece:· ... llove Disneyland. I know we're wrong for each other-I"m not one of the people It was Intended lor· (p . 17). By contextualizlng hiS own responses. he ImpliCitly acknowledges that while Dlsneyland's spa tial experrences differ from Sorkin's urban streets and sQuares, they are not for that reason any less authenllc Carson also credits viSitors to Disneyland With an awareness of ItS SOphlsllcalion as a clever seQuence In which they allow themselves 10 palllClpate. CaIson revels In the eXlentto which VISitors to the park construct the ir own in terpretations 01 what Sorkin sees to be manipulative spallal and SOCial mechanisms inVISible to Dlsneygoers The subtlety of Calson's approach lies In the way he draws out the te nSions between hiS own Intellectual CYnicism regarding Disney's political place In Amerrca and hiS appreCia tion lor the park's manipulative Ingenuity. In order to dramati ze the interplay between Clltlcal knowledge and partiCipatory pleasure. Carson marshals different countermyths against the spell of the magic kingdom. HIS IhetoHcal method bllngs the utopIan counte rmyths of labor, compe\ltlon With in the Industry. and new SOCial movements to bear on Disneyland's own utopian narrallve . In the sec tion " Mr. Joad's Wild Ride." for example. Bugs Bunny and Pepe LePew. "the latter wearing an FFI arm band and the former a silence=death T-shllt" W .26). are insurgents in an apocalyptiC attack on the park. The failure of the overthrow attempt by radicalized Warner characters. as well as the earlier co,optation of Stelnbeck's Tom Joad. serves 10 emphaSize and confllm the greater popularrt y of Dlsneyland's version of American cultur al Identity. In hiS final section. "EXile on Main Street." Carson deSigns hiS own theme park reflecting the anXieties of the post,modern Inte lligentSia Here Carson Intellectualizes t he planning of a theme park to Include lands like "The Haunted Mind· and ·GUlltworld." where Ihe awareness 01 Amenca gone awry IS suffocallng. Caison earlier states: "I can't stand Innocence as a fetish. whe ther II'S chlldhood's or Amellca's ... as an Ideal It'S perniCIOUS" (p 17). By diSCUSSing thIS resistance. he acknowledges the distance between Disney's constructed Innocence and the taded analytical and political stance of much crrtlcal wfl\lng. The SIgnificance 01 "Fatherland,· Carson's theme park. IS to Illustrate that the progressive line of cll tlcal thought seems unable to create a Disneyland that captures the popular Imagination

PATRONIZING DISNEY The ongOing exchange between Disney and the architectural community focuses attention on Ihe dynamiCS of poSItion and partlctpa!+on that Sorkin and Carson outline and enact. The arllculatlon of a progressive response to changes In the spaces of public life mus t address these Issues If It IS to aVOid relnscllblng the frustrating dialectiCS of the avant-garde LikeWise. the assumption s encoded in the analytical cntella by which we learn to deSign and to ludge deSign work are often the mechanism by which architectural discourse and practice marginalize themse lves from the broader audiences they seek to engage. It IS In part because of Dlsney's relentless allentlon to the bUSiness of pleasure that architecture IS left \0 dream of dOing what Disney does.

Nma B. Lesser and Jonathan Massey are studenrs m the UCLA Graduate School of Archl/ecrure and Urban Plannmg .





continued fro m page 1 weather, and we al/ know you can '/ predict the weather. And Disney, well, Disney is in the business of good of' dependability, that's for sure.) My host Interrupts the thought: "There, now 'Iou have the first Ime of your article. " I was planning /0 visit 拢uroOisney the nex t day. As an American architect who for years has marvelled al how Imported, Euorpean-msplled public spaces fail to take In American Cities, I was determmed to investigate this fantastiC urban -sca le Implant of exported Ameocana. I was Intrigued by the reversal, by the attempted transplant of distinctly Americanized culture onto European soil. J had read the reviews in the architectural press on the plane. Earlier thaI afternoon I had bought cigarelles {thanks to Gary Indiana of the Village VOice I was forewarned: at EuroD,sney tobacco concessions are banned except In the official Disney hotels}. I had even come up with a strategy to save paying the exorbitant entry fee-I would walk around the penmeter without going In, to see what I could see,

In 1981, Mitterand decentralized French urban planning; "projets urbains" would no longer be overseen by a single authority, Responsibility for urban development would subsequently fall to re9ional authofilles, each department and each mayor given leave to control their local realm, to shape the ir immediate urban environment. Mitterand's Paris, for example, gained the seven "Grands Projets, " In 1992, eleven years later, phYSical evidence of the reVised le91slallon IS easy to find a stone's throw from the capita l. Each of the mUniCipalities Just beyond the city stllve to create their own "Porte de Paris," Holding light to the traces of the old wall and the aging Boulevard Penphellque, each mayor, each promO/eur; workS hard to outdo the ne xt Vainly, they all try to compe te With Pans . None of these urban prOjects demonstrates the slightest Interest In what stands just next door. What resu lts resembles an urban necklace concocted of mis-matched glass beads trying to imitate more eKpensive gems, (EuroDisney, the ultimate paste piece, is only slightly further afield.) To the American-trained architect, it seems a distinctly unEuropean urbanspace, (But what eKactly constitutes a European urbanscape in 1990, anyway? All those cities we admire so much, weren't they all significantly shaped by forces of autocratic controls?) In fact , from the outside looking in, Paris IS circumsCflbed by a distinctly Ameflcan lzed urbanscape. Given the obVIOUS International trend of architectural conce,t In contemporary urban scale deSign, one might have cause to wonder abou t the veracity of Idealized urban models, about why we cling so strongly to old-world (European) viSions of the city when new-world (America nized] urbanscapes inSiSt on, and succeed at, establishing themse lves as the norm. When we conSider the difficu lties associated With recognizing other kinds of urban orders-those found In places like Houston, Atlanta, Dallas, or LA-the immediate sense of disdain for the peripheral urban agglomera tions ringing Paris is not so difficult to explain As we leave the urban (dls)comforts of home, It IS troublesome to let go of old criteria for thinking cities These models of once expansive urban though t. cultivated on and associated with distant ground, have long held out the promise of answers, Setting them aside is tantamount to admitting the need to reth ink the way we formu late urban questions. However_ in light of the multiple and necessarily conflicting forces sponsoring patterns of contemporary urban development in Europe, America, and beyond, it seems the moment to reevaluate these old values, to ponder our assumptions regarding the applicability of urban models predicated on centralized authonty (however much we admire them ), models that fail to accord wi th the circumstances of contemporar y life, As traditional ur ban fabric heaves, cracks and reforms itself to fit the orders of the day, no mount of pa tch ing, mending, or restyling Will return it to a pllor state, While the power of the image of the "old city " rema ins tenaCIOUS, the centralized powers sponSOring that image are no longer to be found. (E xce pt. of course, In Disney's land! ) Yet. stili today, too many American thinkers concerned w ith the built environment seem to harbor a penchant for that kind of centra lized power, and for the image, if not the space, of its attendant


urban forms . Reading reviews of EuroDisney in the American architectural press, t am struck by the authority of the image, by the way that archi tec tural critics confine themselves to a discussion of the few merits and many faults of seven themed hotels. It's reassuring that all the cr itics seem to agree that "Disneyland, c'est pas Arch itecture," but dlsqulellng Ihat the scope of critical discussion remainS limited to stylistics, Content to assess th is prOjec t on ItS own te rms, such criticism tacitly sanctions the structure of power underwriting the project and summarily dismisses any need for more substantive examination of architecture's position in relation to the values prescribed by a contemporary market Perhaps these issues are best left to those with less at stake? (Those on the Outside, looking in?) While still beholden to a discussion of the bU ildings, at least the British Architectural Review (May, 1992) points ou t, "Only Gehry has resis ted the temptation to compromise, 10 such an eKtent thaI one of the outlying volumes of hiS pan bears an uncanny resemblance to a white Klu Klu~ Klan hood, complete with eye sli\. Surely Disney cannot have noticed, for it is an IroniC reminder that the past is not all sweetly smiling, eaSily aSSimilable and available for dollars." From beyond the profession, (Gary Indiana of the Village VOice) there ar e Signs of a broader (more urban?! vision: this visitor to EUfoDisney writes about ItS reSidential neIghbors nightly suffering from the nOise of fire works displays. He remmds readers that the site of large-scale private developments extends beyond the surveyed boundanes of a building lot. that urban life is more than stylistic life, tha t architectural endeavors have more than Visual effects on thell immediate, and not so Immediale, environment. We all know that the economics of theme parks dictate they be Sited Within l ightly drawn, secure boundaries, ThiS Insures the most conlrol and hopefully, but not always, higher profits, (Even when these zones expand th is still holds true, since themepark growth occurs according to the laws of the Single, hard-sell organism: auto-r eproduction generates like from like, more of the same split off from a selfsufficient central command-core ) We all know that theme parks and theme park owners are self-interest lots, driven by the logic of short-term profits, But where do the interests of architecture and architectural criticism tie J When these endeavors conceptualize the ir growth according to Similar rules, their Sights seem set on remaining w lthm known, eaSily aSSimilated terntory, Rather than striving to reach beyond the boundary to explore alternative models, critics concede to the same market controls as the prOlects they are paid to reflect upon. Meanwhile, readerships that remain satisfied With this tack Insure that these con trols retain thell authollty an d rema in masked from view Given the vast expanse of the Disney development. the limited focus of the architectural press begs certain crillca l questions re lating to contemporary urban-scale design. Given the economiC d,men路 sions of Disney's endeavor, this project offers a chance 10 examine the increasingly complex network of relationships between architecture, power, and money. Given the high degree of control that leads to the caricature that characterizes Disney ventures ( not to m ention the apparent ease with which Disney's architec ts adapt to these controls) fundamental - in fact. ethical - questions are raised regarding the roles and responsib ilities of an architectural profeSSion no longer beholden to (or kepI in check by) singular authorities. Beginning to pursue these issues is to begin to learn to leave the image behind , Not a bad idea, since, after all, "Architecture, c'est pas Disneyland, "

Something kept me from boarding the RER train to EuroDisney. In the end I deCided I might as well spend the day visiting all my favorite cafes and bakeries in Paris Instead. What can I say? There was really no need to squander the time or the money. (/ mean, really, I was only in Europe for one ShOft week, and, . well "EuroDisney, c'est pas Europe, U) Andrea Kahn is a New York architect engaged practice of architectural the ory and criticism ,



WHERE IS ARCHITECTURE IN THE "NEW WORLD ORDER?" DANA L. WEBBER Of the many different ideas implied by the phrase" New World Order," a central theme is the paradoxical breaking down of individual political and economic barriers, on th e one hand, and the formation of " blocks" of several independent nations on the other. In Europe th is paradox is particularly visible since the media focuses much of its attention on both the internal implications of European unification as well as on Unified Europe's relat ionships with the

other major economic markets of North America and Asia. While these issues have been mostly and correctly discussed in political and economic terms, they nevertheless have implications for the design professions, which have trad itionally been assigned the task of place-making but which are increasingly becoming internationally exported services. Where, in the paradoxical terrain of the "New World Order, will architecture find a place and what kind of place will it be? Tearing down "curtains" and diminishing the importance of borders results in increased movement 01 people. goods and services, education, and m edia . The mobility 01 all these phenomena w ill certa inly change our understanding of culture as place-specific and will force architecture to direct its attention toward giving shape to an increasingly kinetic society. As difficult as this challenge may be, even more problematic is the question of what kinds 01 issues will replace place-specificity as a basic determinant of design. As borders between countries disintegrate economically and politically. many lear that cultural expression will be determined by economic and political strength. Will Unified Europe's cultural landscape be mapped by a kind 01 primitive accounting system. where the culture 01 the less powerful countries, such as Denmark. are simply overshadowed by the cultures 01 economically strong countries, such as Germany? Since the unification of Europe is inevitable. it is imperative to answer these questions, and in attempting to do so one finds both pitfalls and possibilities. It is possible that the elimination 01 factors root ed in traditional ideas 01 place will Iree design from the burden of representing such ideas and enable designers to lind inspiration in the new transience of people and things. By turning away from the appurtenances of representation. architecture may enable other less recognized and potentially less adulterated aspects of culture to emerge. At the same time. nostalgia for conventional ideas of cultural identity may reinforce the desire to represent historical traditions. One result of such desire could be the "theme-ing " of political identity and the translormaH

tion of the whole of Europe into a kind of EuroDisney with cultural distinctiveness simply a series of fantast ic themes. Yet another possibility might be that architects will respond to the influx of cross-border integration by designing universal places for universal people using universal goods. Such a respo'nse may certainly facilitate social mobility. but it could also produce culturalliquefication and a oneworld, ~place-Iess" architecture. If the emergence of a "New World Order" is to be stopped from leading inevitably to either an architecture of universal sameness or an architecture of nationalistic kitsch, and il the designer is to be stopped from feeling overwhelmed by and powerless In the face of such global trends. two th ings must be kept in mind. First. it must be recognized that political and economic factors are indeed the principal mechanisms generating these transformations and design must confront rather than shy away from that facl. One might think of the film llrazil in which the scale and spaces of architecture were used to suggest both the futility of individual endeavors within the system as well as to prove the inescapable power of the bureaucratic machine that drove the system. But the relationship between individuals and the systems to which they belong is no longer so black and white. On a political level. individual nation-hood is certainly being de-emphasized, bu t identification with newly forming Hblocks" is increas ing. Perhaps th is developing complex ity in relationships between individuals and nations and between nations and "New Worlds" can suggest some avenues that m ight lead architecture away from simplistic economic and political determinism. A second question that could be raised in this context is whether or not it is useful to continue thinking about architecture in terms of being " placeless ~ or Hplace_full.~ Place. whether absent or present. is not conceived of universally in the same terms. For example. If one asks an American where they come from. there is often a slight pause before they answer as they choose which ~placeu to call home. On the other hand. if one asks a European where they come from, their answer will usually be as specific as a certain neighborhood or even street in a specified city or town . Th e differences between these answers may not only be explained by referring to the greater transience of American tife in contrast to the greater power of collective memory in Europe . Instead. they can also be understood by thinking about the concept 01 "place" as a potentially enormously elastic notion. the very flexibility of which could be of tremendous significance to architecture. While political and economic goals are the star actors in the "New World Order," the design profession nevertheless has an important role to play. As architects from all over the world build increas ingly all over the world, they have the unique opportunity not just to be emissaries of culture as traditionally defined, but the designers and definers of new forms of culture. By considering these issues they may find ways of satisfying Renzo Piano's credo--"architecture is art realized by life"-rather than succumbing to an architecture that is non-art realized by economics. Dana Webber is an architect currently living and wo rking in the Netherlands .

NATURE VS REAL ESTATE, OR LOS ANGELES' FOLLY NICHOLAS LOWIE Every ya rd is a Sod Frontier. • Land without population is a wilderness. and population without land is a mob. The fenco-cbject allows nature to become the landsubject. The commodification of nature is a product and producer of complacency. Sooner or later you end up lured into a private, controlled. owned. organized secured distance-the shelter of an autocratic expansionist. It is the commodification not of Natural security but of natural security. the security of a nature long since commodified. This complacency is a disguise--capital in a natural disguise IReal Estate). Disguised as a mediated landscape. middle landscape. middle America. In this hermetic landscape. an j ndustrialized and marketed object must remain an object, untouched by process. but rooted in the McDonald·stGOP approach to the land. Ensure that your grass is grass and that it's always greener for you're the only one with the grass. Here yardening is parallel to growing wheat and picking Presidents. Go West young man! Run! Get your already portioned lot. Before the next guy gets his (yours? they 're the same.) This is autocratic natural destiny. Getting back to. getting nature is a new primitive ri te. American natural is freedom, spontaneity, and authenticity-the ability to visit and to buy nature. A return to nature requires a return to open ri

space, a space that has not acquired the status of a commodity. An impossibility if one believes in the grid. Jefferson's grid ordered nature and ended it. Civilizing geometrical ordering-the grid is infinite. the U.S. is in finite, the U.S. commodified the world. The grid homogenizes. Commodification prioritizes. The grid promotes Culture. promotes society, consumer society. The grid is the birth of the simulated object. The Sod Grid Frontier is artificial simulated life-the city grows naturally. The role of man in nature is historically (now) a dominatrix relationship and man romantically constructs his role as such. The relationship between man and nature is nested in literary man vs. literal nature. The literary role suggests a Utopia . Utopia in its etymological sense as a no space. with no representations of that space. No representations mean no images. with no images the correlate subject is dead. A literary man is a man that has a changing persona, a transformative relationship with a singular nature. Nature's only cultural change is that it can't be had and then it can. Once il"s been had. it remains the same--a natural thing and that's that. Il"s only what man does to it, with it, for it, that makes the difference between to have and have not. The re-presentat ion of nature by culture is los Angeles' folty. The Hre H is the index of the agrarian landscape. the signifier of doing Nature,


the represen tat ion of the idea of the natural. The renatured presentation is the artificing of truth. There is a masking/forgetting of Nature that allows Re(N/nJature 10 be cultured. The re-member. the ··authenticity." is dependent upon the forgetti ng of the genuine. Nature=artifice. The aesthetic is the key to an understanding of natural relations. The aesthetic can be the name. the lorm. or the act. But can the aesthetic be pmpointed? Is It a moment in time. or does the emotive need time. time to grow. me growth process? Controlling the aesthetic also reqUires a forgett ing. but of the new or igmal-the commodity. Does controlling the aesthetic show the difference (its natural implications). or does it merely require a remembering of the commodity? Is the aesthetic the key to an understanding of natural relations, or is the aesthetic nature's natural enemy? Nature is to do. The function of Nature is to exist. to keep existing. It is only a process. Your Nature is I desire, to be. the subject. natural. This is only the process of human N/nature. The funct ion of your N/nature is to provide an aesthetic framework for commodifying your natural (Natural] impulses. Natural is to become. the predicate of desire. The natural is a description 01 nature through Nature. To identify your position in this productive re-cycle is to implement the process. Natural culture is to be. The Nature of culture is to know. Our cultural nature is to have. Multiculturalism is to have to be to know. Multinaturalism is to desire to do to become.

Nicholas Lowie, an architect and graphic designer, received an M .Arch from SCI~Arc.

UNSIGHTLY SITES: Heading north , looking west. riding Amtrak, Phi ladelphia-New York. Why succumb to frontal vision? W hat is there, off to the side? Despite the abstract diSCipline 01 underlying grids and the overt authomy of regulatory actions, the bUilt enVilonment rarely conforms to the Ideal conceptions adopted 10 descnbe and shape Its development. In bUilt up areas . the ra ilroad ' s Impact on the landscape IS Initiated by linear ~~remova l s revealing unsightly sites {On open ground advance hnes are drawn. Signalling retreatstowns bac\:; away from rai lroad tracks J The prospects afforded the trai n traveller were never Intended as views. Rare ly the resu lt of conscious deSign, these unsightly sights ref use to aCQuiesce to Idealized VISions, because of thelf reSis tance, they deflect, rather than mVlte, attention Since such slles are overlooked and undervalued not because 01 some mherent defiCiency but because they fa ll to submit to the structural frameworks that measure va lue, focusing on them Yields more than their phySical descnptlon, It illuminates conceptual frameworks and value systems that previously obscured the lf recognizab ility. 011 to the Side: an unSightly site IS a ph ysic al location and an archi te ctura l VISion As a speCifiC location It IS "not Site-like ": a place w ithout discernible Irmlt; a Situation summarily dismissed by diSCiplined exclusions (the unseen, the unslghlable, the unSltuated). It can be " un-sightly," in the sense of ugly, 0 1 displeaSing, even unseemly 01 Impropel . 01 II cao be " un-snt:!lrke, " ladmg ch arac te rrstlCS that might differentiate It from ItS surroundmgs-an unboundable COnditiOn. These sites betray archi tec ture's and urban deSign's msull iciency: eschewing submiSSion to a common measure, they sugg est th e ImproPriety of deSign's controls . UnSightly sites are disreg ard ed be cause they expos e wha t we do not wish to see: an active space of confrontation, of Inflection and Infection, a mobile groynd

MOBILE GROUND: The cur iou s thing about trains-simultaneous speed and stasis, Trains move as the viewer si t s sti ll. What can be drawn from this, a moving station point?



M ovmg on a train IS movi ng In a gap between know n pomts of depart ure and assumed times of arrival. On tra ins, still m oving bodies cross a space m process, the spa ce of being constructed . Because It IS neither here nor there , mobile ground is the locus of trans iti on and cha llenge, of movement and change. It is a space of progression, of slippage and constant re-va luatlon-a place where dive rse interests com e together to negotiate their diffe rences. It is a place where different experi ences, dillerent times, tip ovel into and out of each other. In th is a site of contest ing powers, the locus of economiC, politica l. spatial, and morphological negotiation, new types march across an eXisting fabric, consuming il in the ir path: the acti on is remova ls. Sartre w rites removals indicate changes in American fortunes . For him. Amer ican cities "move forward at a rapid rate ... not constructed to grow old, but to m ove forward like m odern armies." What is being conQuered? Against contemporary archItectural cu lture ' s preeminent concern w ith the fronta l Image, tra ins sponsor v ision to the side. (Reyner Banham knows cars are personal m otion machines - we steer, st are, and can always sop; tra ins by contrast , are drrven by other powers and afford us time to wonde r.! Aboa rd the tram we are drawn across mobile ground, we prol ect our sight lines and occupy space from an uncontrolting place. The forward tra jectory of the train is the model of perspecllval VISion, bu t thiS ideal vista rema ins unattainable. Peerrng out we cast a Sidelong glance, we reor ient and remake our visu al field. In th e ever shiftmg position of a movmg station pOint we are released from the convention al limi tations 01 visua l representations as exclusive of moving per ceplions, on the move we conQu er the mythos of the draWing as a Single dete rm matlon of a non-sm gular cons truct. Travelling a IImmal cut across the landscape, w e as sum e a peri pheral locati on In relation to familiar pOlnt-of路 views.

Newsletter, February 1993  

Gehry: In His Own Theme - Interview with Frank O. Gehry by Sylvia Lavin, Patronizing Disney by Nina B. Lesser and Jonathan Massey, On the Ou...

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