21 September 2006

Preservation of History

I went to see Rem Koolhaas lecture about the Preservation of History at the GSD tonight.

I always feel addle brained and inarticulate after a lecture. Is that odd? Shouldn't I be brimming with ideas and feel stimulated by the words and ideas that this famous architect just said? Shouldn't I want to have an intellectual discourse with the people who went to the lecture with me, who probably share similar interests and ideas?

Instead, I just sat there, feeling dumb. The only thing I could say after today's lecture was, "well, he didn't sound as full of shit as some of these people do," which was true, but really. Did I need to say that in front of people I just met a month ago?

We parted ways right after the lecture, Scott going to "grab a bite," Eric off to meet a friend, and me...Walking home with a cigarette and my dumb words floating around in my head. Stupid.

Rem wasn't full of shit, though his point was lost on us (it was lost on me, and Eric said it was also lost on him). Evidently, the whole hour of words could be summed up in a few sentences. Something about a guy. An architect. Knowing something about how his architecture wouldn't last forever? Or thinking that it would? Something about tenements?

Seriously -- it was very convoluted, and it did not sum up the rest of the lecture, which was very clear, albeit without that one sentence that sums it all up in the end, it felt like something was missing (although, I suppose he did try).

He talked about the dilapidation of the Reichstag, and about how the most glorious re-births of cities come from the most horrible destruction, because it's only then that we're free to rebuild without the guilt and the oppression and the desire to preserve older buildings. He showed a slide of a doorknob that fell off of a door. What do we do with it now? Hitler probably touched that doorknob. Does that mean it's evil? That it should be destroyed? Or is it a part of history that should be preserved?

The oddest part of the lecture was that it was pretty clear to me the whole time that Rem is all about preservation architecture. But he kept presenting both sides of the coin without very much weight on either - no pros or cons. So I figure he's going to get to that part in the end. He then said that most preservation architecture is totally fake and completely disgusting to him (okay, maybe his words weren't that strong, but that's what I took from them). So...Is he for it or against it? Does he just think it's done wrong? In my mind, he made no compelling arguments either way, except to stress that he could see beauty in the chaos of this dilapidated building. (You're going "What?" Yeah, me too).

I feel like I'm pro-sustainable design. But I'm also incredibly short sighted with that view because by sustainable I'm usually referring to how a new building can be sustainable. I'm just not about preserving buildings that exist and making those more efficient -- if they're ugly and horrible and don't work, anyway - historic or not *cough*sweden. I guess it can work both ways, I just usually lean towards the former.

So this lecture left me with more questions than answers, so I was glad for the long walk home, except for the shoes I was wearing. But I just wish that I could have listened to people discuss this lecture afterwards. Yeah, I know. I'm such a whore when it comes to discussion. I LOVE to listen to people discuss -- the grittier, the more emotional, the better. I just HATE to participate. What? I'm a woman. We're allowed to be complicated. (I'm also very. Very. Shy)


sw said...

On the bright side you didn't drool on yourself during the lecture. Koolhaus makes me sleepy.

sw said...

and unable to spell.

Briar said...

Well, at least you didn't miss an award winning lecture :)