Stella Cretek

BreakWater Controversy

By - Jan 29th, 2009 02:52 pm
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This just in: Milwaukee Magazine has put the full text of The Peter Principle online. It can be found:

Dear Dem Bones readers: Here’s Architect Peter Renner’s response to Tom Bamberger’s article (The Peter Principle/Milwaukee Magazine/February 2009).

From Milwaukee Magazine, “The Peter Principle,” February 2009:

The BreakWater doesn’t have a sense of itself. It’s a tall building that looks stout. The spacing, lines and volumes that define the four sides have no rhythm or reason. There is no pattern or any kind of visual gravity to hold it together. Its only defining visual feature is stacks of self- supported decks that look like house- boats docked to the building.

None of its constituent parts add up, right down to the sign on the front, whose florid calligraphic font seems out of step with the building’s brutish flatness. On first viewing, The Break- Water is unmemorable; with repeated viewing, it sinks into incoherence.

Quality is signified rather than realized. There are slabs of granite inside and out. The lobby is intended to create “the feel of a museum in Rome,” Renner’s Web site declares. The goal “is to build Mercedes quality units and sell them at a Chrysler price.” But even a Chrysler has an articulated exterior. Renner is selling high-class amenities in a vertical Wal- Mart box.

Many of Renner’s customers come from the suburbs, and The BreakWater is the vertical urban equivalent to the suburban McMansion.These amorphous homes never look like anything in particular because they are turned inward and are merely containers of the requisite amenities. Similarly, Renner’s high-rise satisfies our needs for immense closets, enormous entertainment centers, vast open kitchens, huge master bedrooms, thick walls, spacious heated parking places and massive decks. The outside is an add-on, an afterthought.

Renner isn’t even trying to create a beautiful building. He’s not guilty about leaving a void. And you shouldn’t be either. Don’t kid yourself, he’s saying. Well-designed exteriors are for sissies.

And Renner’s response:

Whether you have or haven’t read the bizarre and critical article in February’s Milwaukee Magazine, you will probably hear about it.

The author is obviously being influenced and/or directed by the `intellectual architectural community’ that locally has a religious belief in the concept that any architecture that doesn’t mimic `modern architecture’ is immoral architecture. The concept of modern architecture was by and large created by two Germans, Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe, who were instructors in the avant guarde Bauhaus School of Architecture located in Eastern Germany and operated in the 1920’s and 1930’s. This cult of modern architecture is like a religion – a religion I don’t subscribe to. I don’t want to live in a cold sterile building and I don’t think most other people want to either.

When we design buildings like the BreakWater our first priority is to design a living space and unit that best accommodates the needs and desires of the people that are going to live there. Our customers like acoustic privacy, they like big screen home theaters, they like combination kitchen and dining areas that are designed for today’s life styles, they like high quality finishes, warmth, a sense of style, and they like big well equipped decks.

Modernist religious architects like to design buildings that have an exterior look and character that conforms to the modernist ideals. These architects then try to squeeze living units into the building. Perfect case in point: Park Lafayette. The balconies at Park Lafayette are recessed behind an “Audi like” exterior glass façade. The same concept has been popular since World War II in the entire communist world. The idea was you could have one friend over on the balcony but not more than one.

Will Mary Louse Schumacher have any thing to add in Art City?

Categories: Dem Bones

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