Thursday, August 13, 2009

Another (good) obvious idea

The NYC Department of Buildings and the AIA are encouraging the aesthetic design of the ever-present construction sheds that are a part of urban life. I'd put that in the category of little, but great, ideas whose time have come. I remember, a decade or more ago, the Eglise de la Madeleine in Paris (not a church since Napoleon de-sanctified it) was under renovation. The construction shed and scaffolding that went up over the front of the building was draped with a scrim (?) with a massive print of the underlying facade -- but brighter and and in higher definition than the real facade beneath. The construction shed, scaffolding and the printed scrim were up for some time -- more than a year. I grew greatly fond of it as a bright focal point at the top/north of the Place de la Concorde. And I must admit, ever since the scaffolding has come down, and the restored "real" facade of la Madeleine is there -- that I miss the graphic evocation of the idea of the facade, with its underlying energetic promise that all is being improved/saved. In some interesting way, the "idea" of the facade, which is some variation of the front of a Greek temple, captured my attention more in the ephemeral representation in the scrim over the construction shed than in the real facade, before and after. (I've seen more more impressive/moving fronts of Greek temples elsewhere. Sorry, Paris.) Today, we've "just" got the real facade. Anyway, back to construction sheds in NYC -- Yes, why shouldn't they be engaging design?