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Old 01-04-2009, 09:37 AM   #1
ablarc
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A Modern City Hall in an Old City

A MODERN CITY HALL IN AN OLD CITY









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photos: Zephyr, Wired New York.
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Old 01-04-2009, 11:20 AM   #2
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Re: A Modern City Hall in an Old City

^ Like the one in Boston: occupied sculpture placed on a large, bare plaza.

Is it contextual?
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Old 01-04-2009, 12:36 PM   #3
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Re: A Modern City Hall in an Old City

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Is it contextual?
The three glass gables are in scale with the surrounding buildings so I'd say yes.

Meier, correct?
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Old 01-04-2009, 02:10 PM   #4
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Re: A Modern City Hall in an Old City

Two differences from Boston: it appears that this plaza is flat, and that it is enclosed by small buildings (and a large church).
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Old 01-04-2009, 03:41 PM   #5
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Re: A Modern City Hall in an Old City

Ron is right. Context is key. This building still doesn't appear very comfortable with its surroundings (I think Hollein's Vienna Haas-Haus looks better in a similar environment), but those surroundings are far superior to those of Government Center. Aesthetically it owes something to the Louvre pyramids.

The building also appears to be far more inviting in and of itself. No forbidding brick steps and fortress-like ramparts, but vast, open windows and outdoor seating transitioning from the (very) public realm to the semi-public one of government administration.

Haas-House, Vienna:



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Old 01-05-2009, 09:05 PM   #6
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Re: A Modern City Hall in an Old City

I lived for three months in Blaubeuren, a large village or small town about 30 kilometers west of Ulm. Since I had a car I was a frequent visitor and more than once scaled the thousand-odd steps to the cathedral?s pinnacle.



This was before Meier?s city hall, so the view down was of a traffic intersection where now stands a handsome plaza.

The gabled row that faces the city hall is new; you can see that in the fa?ade treatments. Meier picks up on them with his sawtooth gabled skylights.

I seem to recall some dull modernist pieces preceded these neo-medievalisms, like the drabster in the upper left; you could have thought of them as placeholders to replace the war?s bomb damage till they figured out how to do it right.

Best of all would have been to reconstruct the prewar structures as they had been, half-timbering and all. The building with the polygonal courtyard escaped the bombs and illustrates Ulm?s pre-war appearance.



Don?t know what to think of Meier?s building. It sure makes the church look dirty.

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Old 01-05-2009, 10:00 PM   #7
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Re: A Modern City Hall in an Old City

Note that the sawtooth gables really only work from above. Any echoing of the neo-medieval houses doesn't carry through at street level at all - just the abstraction of a largely horizontal wall - although I guess one could argue that the project as a whole attempts evocation of the past at increasingly abstract levels.
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Old 01-06-2009, 09:25 AM   #8
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Re: A Modern City Hall in an Old City

You just know that if they tried to do that row of townhouses here it would be one long landscraper rather than broken up into individual units. Because it is "dishonest" and "betrays its modernity" to do it otherwise.
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Old 01-06-2009, 09:52 AM   #9
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Re: A Modern City Hall in an Old City

I thought it was because buildings with small footprints killed the "FAR" and thus made them "unprofitable".

We need to get our boogymen straight so we know who to blame.
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Old 01-06-2009, 02:45 PM   #10
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Re: A Modern City Hall in an Old City

No developer in Boston has ever worried about making a mockery of history. See: every redbrick lump built from 1971 to today.
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Old 01-08-2009, 10:29 PM   #11
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Re: A Modern City Hall in an Old City

My wife gave a recital in the Ulm Stadthaus a few years back, so I spent the better part of a week in and around the building, and I have to say that it works quite well. That's partly because it's not actually all that big. The scale is more like the ICA than Boston City Hall, and Meier did a brilliant job of breaking it up into pieces that have distinct programs. As czsz said, there are no steps, so the ground floor is a seamless part of the M?nsterplatz. One side of the ground floor has a tourist information office; the other has a really nice cafe, with indoor and outdoor tables and a great view of the M?nster. Upstairs (in the part above the info office) there's a very attractive meeting room/concert hall (though the acoustics are terrible), which also has a great view of the church. Meier's design is a total contrast to the Gothic and Neogothic church, but as you move in and around and through the Stadthaus, it becomes clear that the design is, to a large degree, driven by an attempt to frame the church in interesting ways. I think it's actually one of Meier's better buildings, partly because it exists in dialogue with something he couldn't control---unlike, say, the various buildings in the Getty Center.

It's true that the building is totally out of context with the traditional buildings of Ulm, but there aren't many of those left. The city was bombed almost flat in the war, and nearly all the buildings that lined the M?nsterplatz were completely destroyed. Only the church itself and a few buildings to its north survived. Also, there had been various attempts to create a more "dignified" backdrop for the church during the late nineteenth century, and there had already been a lot of demolition in and around the square even before the war. So the urban fabric was already pretty badly compromised before the bombing. Interestingly, the Meier building echoes a proposal for the very same spot (and in a somewhat similar style) from the 1920s by Hans Scharoun---the architect of Berlin's Philharmonie.

Personally, I think the Stadthaus actually works much better in context than Hollein's Vienna Haas-Haus, but that's partly because I don't like Hollein's work very much in general.
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Old 01-11-2009, 05:52 PM   #12
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Re: A Modern City Hall in an Old City

Thanks for your interesting observations. How 'bout some more posts?

How could Boston's music scene be roused from its torpor?
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Old 01-11-2009, 09:39 PM   #13
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Re: A Modern City Hall in an Old City

It's music scene would be roused if the bars were open til 3am or later.
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Old 01-12-2009, 10:48 AM   #14
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Re: A Modern City Hall in an Old City

I'm in no position to judge the current music scene, but the 2 am closing didn't prevent Boston from having a major music scene in the 60-90's.

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Old 01-12-2009, 07:54 PM   #15
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Re: A Modern City Hall in an Old City

As the times change, the trends change, and so should the laws.
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Old 01-13-2009, 10:26 AM   #16
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Re: A Modern City Hall in an Old City

All I'm saying is that the closing time has no effect on the music scene.
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Old 01-13-2009, 05:39 PM   #17
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Re: A Modern City Hall in an Old City

If a club is open later, musical act plays longer, more music, means more people dancing, means more money to club, means more money to music, means more/better music. Plus, later closing times would have the effect of raising our reputation as having a nightlife scene, and more people may be encouraged to go out and spend money, longer, pushing more money into the music scene.

Not direct, but it definitely has an impact.
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Old 01-14-2009, 12:48 AM   #18
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Re: A Modern City Hall in an Old City

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How could Boston's music scene be roused from its torpor?
It isn't just Boston, ablarc. Consider: it's never been easier for artists to distribute their music, yet too many people would rather sit in front of their flat panel TVs and watch a bunch of talentless assholes humiliate themselves on American Idol than make the effort to catch a set at Wally's, or Jordan Hall, or the Middle East. Or they're playing Rock Band (full disclosure: the co-creator is a friend of mine; he plays clarinet in the chamber ensemble I'm a trustee with).

But I'm still hopeful that the scene in Boston will come around. These guys kinda rock:



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Don?t know what to think of Meier?s building. It sure makes the church look dirty.
So...What does the rest of the class think of Richard Meier?

Ablarc, I recall you once asking (in regard to the Jubilee Church), "Can this guy design an ugly building?" Well, I like the Jubilee Church, and I agree that many of his buildings are attractive and well crafted. At best, Meier creates a heady brew of Corbu, Aalto (of the Paimio Sanatorium), and Neutra. But it's all so white, and bloodless, and antiseptic.

Maybe I don't know what "good" looks like anymore...

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Old 01-14-2009, 06:10 AM   #19
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Re: A Modern City Hall in an Old City

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Ablarc, I recall you once asking (in regard to the Jubilee Church), "Can this guy design an ugly building?" Well, I like the Jubilee Church, and I agree that many of his buildings are attractive and well crafted. At best, Meier creates a heady brew of Corbu, Aalto (of the Paimio Sanatorium), and Neutra. But it's all so white, and bloodless, and antiseptic.

Maybe I don't know what "good" looks like anymore...
Oh, seen by itself this one is as pretty as any other Meier building. It's just that, in its context, it seems so temporary ... almost like a tent.

Bet it's gone in a hundred years.

But that cathedral...
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Old 01-14-2009, 06:37 AM   #20
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Re: A Modern City Hall in an Old City

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But that cathedral...
Word! It's the "sleeper" of continental Europe. And the tallest of all. I think I prefer K?lner Dom for its more traditional west front, but the way up to the top of the tower is extraordinary. 768 steps -- what was that like?

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