Too Much LOGO and Not Enough LEGO at the Center for Architecture

If you think I write too much, then you will be amazed at the amount of wall text wrapped around the interior walls of the Center for Architecture's new exhibition, Berlin-New York Dialogues: Building in Context. If you do visit the Center's compare-and-contrast Berlin-And-New York-Are- Sometimes-Alike-And-Sometimes-Different exhibit, please be prepared for an onslaught of information.

Photographs and architectural renderings of ongoing design projects in both cities accompany the words, and I think the exhibition tries hard, almost to a fault, to include everything. The enlarged photos of city streets and corners that do "speak" without words, unfortunately, are sited in the dead cul-de-sac zones of the space, and the POVs of these images are from the center of the road and not from the perspective of the pedestrian. Very un-Jane Jacobs of them.

The very notion of "dialogue" should stimulate the exchange of ideas, and, indeed, the copious amount of Berlin-New York information at the Center raises important questions. The reader (not viewer) may wonder, for example, if New York loses in the exchange, especially in relation to the underlying ideological principle in Berlin that housing is a basic social right and not a privilege. Berlin, on the other hand, could spruce up its river front.

If you are interested in learning about the effects of urban transformation on a major city, then go see Georges Seurat's images of post-Haussmann Paris at MoMA. His drawings speak louder than words.

Berlin-New York Dialogues: Building in Context continues through January 26, 2008 at the Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place.

(revised 11.14.07)

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