Mid-Century Architecture Awareness | Having written about Modern and Mid-Century Design for years now it was pleasing to find this video that gives a great overview from the roots of modernism in Europe to Mid-Century in the states. In this case the in-depth look came from Arkansas. Really? It’s true and it works in this case. The video digs into both the emotional and cultural influences behind these movements. Literally, it gets to the heart behind the simple physical constructs covering everything from Gropius to Googie.For those novices out there who find themselves drawn to modern, but don’t understand the influences or those aficionados who need a refresher — allow yourself an hour to enjoy this video. For those of you who find such buildings stark you might challenge yourself to look below the shallow surface of modernist aesthetics to realize the beauty of “Less is More.”
Once you have watched the video you may think about the evolution of our own downtown buildings and the changes happening there. Like any layered American city our rich urban fabric is made from more than Art Deco buildings. We have a variety of mid-century and modern represented. And while people struggle to appreciate it and want to change it — does that change necessarily make it better? Does dressing up a clean, concrete modernist Bert King designed bank building in yellow paint and blue awnings make it better or suburban? Does deconstructing another Bert King designed bank building in hopes of creating a themed hotel make it better or Disney? Does dressing out a modern corporate tower into today’s fashionable, mass channel contemporary architecture make it better? If so, for how long? And will we want to change that in another 50 years when it seems unfashionable for the moment?
Change is inevitable and not everything needs to be preserved, but are we mindful in making those changes? Who is making the decision — investors or locals? Who is the change for — corporations, tourists or residents? Does changing it make it either relevant or sustainable for another 5 years or 100 years? Do we want our city to evolve into a Charlotte or a Copenhagen? Or does Asheville have its own history, culture and creative spirit to design buildings that are uniquely Asheville and keep us being Asheville for another century? Should we ask these questions? Or should we let come what may? Cheers to you for giving it some thought!