FLAWED PERFECT

DAY75 WEB_Day 75 (March 16, 2014) – Boston, MA

In architecture there are buildings that are both beautifully designed and beautifully flawed. 

The acoustics in the Sydney Opera House had to be completely redesigned with the original architect replaced. Then there is the Disney Performing Arts Center (which I photographed two weeks ago) – the original design had an almost completely mirrored surface that had to be scuffed and made more flat because of light glare resulting in traffic problems.  (Definitely not the first design flaw by Frank Gehry.) And then you have Santiago Calatrava who designs some of the most beautiful structures with serious engineering flaws.

Here I am in Boston at a conference right next to the famed John Hancock Tower. It was one of the few skyscrapers that dot the Boston skyline. It’s differently a signature building…and it’s definitely flawed. The building sits in a win tunnel and early on during construction, newly installed windows would pop out and crash to the ground in winds of 45 mph. The Boston Police had to shut down a two block radius to protect unsuspecting pedestrians! Eventually all 10,344 windows had to be replaced and two 300 ton weights added to the top of the building as counter balance to prevent it from swaying too much!

So….thank you I.M. Pei for a beautiful design, but next time do a little more modeling before you build in a wind tunnel.

(BTW – These are all useless facts that I learned in my first week of planning school at MIT. I’m sure my professors would be proud that I haven’t forgotten this stuff after all the years.)

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