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2014 January

Oxidation of Utopia

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During the History of Modern Architecture, we were tasked with the creation of a manifesto. It was to be written as a reaction to the Toledo buildings that were part of a weekend tour. These included the Toledo Public Library, the professor’s own dwelling that she had designed herself, the Gehry addition to the TMA and the more recent Glass Pavilion across the street. Additionally, the manifesto was to be in the form of a poster and had to incorporate images of these same buildings. Of course, I went a little post-apocalyptic with it.

It’s not supposed to make a whole lot of sense. It’s a manifesto. It was more about the mood than the specifics. Closer to poetry than prose. I was pretty happy with it when I turned it in. Looking back now, though, I think I would change the order of the lines to this:

Modern cities stand
as narcissistic boneyards
for mid-century utopian fantasies

Filthy pre-fab headstones
mark a misguided experiment
in mechanical living.

Did we think our machines would grow to love us?

Where skin meets steel it is the body that yields.

In the quest to anthropomorphize our alloys
we have given birth to cyborgs.

Don’t believe
that your creations
will outlast you.

 

Highland Park

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redCross

assemblyLine_doorHingeOnCar

Karl-Marx

Katerina Ruedi Ray’s  History of Modern Architecture takes the prize as the most interesting class of Fall semester, 2013. The assignments were unlike any I had been asked to produce before. Although I initially reacted with distaste to the odd requirements, they usually proved to be as fun as a 1500 word essay can really be.

This assignment was supposed to be a scene or short story that takes place in a building that could be included in the modern style. I chose the highly influential Highland Park Ford assembly facility designed by Albert Kahn. The main characters are a WWI air force vet and a Mexican labor supporter. Many hijinks ensue.

Sadly, I didn’t get the “A” I wanted. The “B” was something I just had to accept. I believe it’s because I didn’t cite my sources. Though I put them in the bibliography, there isn’t a single inline citation. Oops. She was probably within her rights to fail me. Oh well. It’s a good story! Read it!

Download The Ballad of Jimmy and Hector as a PDF