Halloween Horrors! / by Michelle Linden

All over town, the streets are alive with Halloween revelers. Even though I'm sitting warm and comfortably in my house, it only seems appropriate to post something Halloween-esque. In this case... 5 Horrifying Structures. Enough to send you screaming into the dark!

Michael Graves' Dolphin and Swan hotels are infamous in and out of design circles. The over the top application of Post Modern design and tacky animal sculptures are truly frightening. Post-modernism was supposed to bring back wit, ornament, and reference, but there is absolutely nothing witty about this design.

Say what you will about Frank Gehry, but he's certainly made a name for himself and his iconic blob designs. I don't generally consider myself a Gehry fan, but I can still appreciate the occasional Bilbao. But the EMP in Seattle is no Bilbao... It looks like one of Gehry's interns dropped a few pieces of trash into his 3d modeling machine. There is no consistency to the forms or materials... nothing to give us the impression that he did anything more than phone it in. Rather than create an icon for Seattle, Gehry only succeeded in creating a structure that so few people appreciate, it can hardly pay to keep itself open.

The NEMO museum in Amsterdam, by Renzo Piano may not be as scary as some of the other buildings, but its still one of my least favorite projects. Built on the edge of the water and intended to look like a giant ship, this building seems like a project a young student might propose (not a successful, world renown architect). Yes, the building is successful in its purpose and it most certainly does succeed in its imitation of a ship. But that's just it... it seems like a mere imitation. You can almost see the thought process... 'wouldn't it be great if the building looked like a giant ship moored at the docks? It is Amsterdam after all.' And then someone picked up a cruise line pamphlet and proceeded to draw exactly what they saw. It seems to me, that with this project Renzo forgot to remind everyone that a concept does not need and probably shouldn't be taken as verbatim in the design process.

The Seattle Art Museum by Venturi Scott Brown is probably my least favorite building in Seattle. While its often heralded as a superb example of post modern design, it does absolutely nothing good for me. I'm sure, this is due just as much to my distaste for post-modernism as to the design itself, but still... Venturi often said 'less is a bore' and clearly he did everything possible to avoid a minimal appearance. But, personally I think that he could have spent less time and effort adorning the exterior and more time providing an exterior that would connect to the public. The building is set back quite a distance from the sidewalks, with no real connection for users (except at the main entry corner, which also happens to be a busy street corner). Furthermore, the lack of windows in the upper stories is quite foreboding from a distance and more reminiscent of a prison than an art museum. Add to this, an overly compartmentalized interior and I'm really not a fan of this project.

I've already written about my utter dislike of this project, so I won't force you to read it again...

Anyone have any other horrifying projects to add to the list?