A Layman and a Trash Can Walk into a Particle Accelerator

Perhaps, disconnection is a good thing. I am sure that in the world of architecture, there are many valid reasons for designs. It is an art form, and like art, prone to being utterly indecipherable to the layman. Yet, sometimes, I wonder if the layman is right. As one such layman, I can’t help but notice that the tallest residential building in the world is absurd. Why? Well, to quote Wikipedia, “The design of the structure was conceived by architect Rafael Viñoly who was inspired by a trash can designed in 1905 by Austrian designer Josef Hoffmann.”1

432parknov2017
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Do I need to say more?

Probably not, but I will anyway.

First of all, why would you want a building to resemble a trash can? Is it a comment on modern society? Perhaps, Mr. Viñoly is critiquing our capitalistic culture, in which people are driven to earn million of dollars to spend on apartments that resemble trash cans? Sounds circular, but I’ll allow it. Perhaps the argument is that the rich actually are trash, and all us regular folk should act snobbish toward them in their depressing, giant, phallic blights on the atmosphere. Maybe, the building itself is made of 100%, reconstituted trash… I’m not even going to bother finding a citation to prove that’s not the case.

Second of all, 432 Park Avenue (yes, that is the building in question), is still just a concrete pillar with a lot of windows.2 Why not put a giant foot pedal at the bottom, and when you stand on it, the top opens, and a billionaire can land their helicopter directly in their apartment? Or, have the interior entirely contained in a plastic bag, and when you need to redecorate, voila, you have a blank canvas? Sure, neither of these options are feasible, but if you are going to design something based on a trash can, you could at least commit to the whole charade.

The most remarkable thing about this building is that Josef Hoffman designed the trash can it imitates in 1905. The sheer idea that someone had the time to waste, in 1905, on a trash can, is, well… given the historical opulence of the aristocracy not actually remarkable at all. This was a pointless paragraph.

So, as we descend further into self-fulfilling nihilism, perhaps, disconnection is a good thing. I am sure that in the world of architecture, there are many valid reasons for designs. It is an art form, and like art, prone to being utterly indecipherable to the layman. Yet, sometimes, I wonder if the layman is right. As one such layman, I can’t help but feel vindicated by my inane ramblings.

Peace.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/432_Park_Avenue#Design

Yes, I understand the engineering required to make any skyscraper stay up is impressive, but if we go by that reasoning we may as well do away with satire altogether.

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