Usually, when I think of beauty in large urban buildings,
the word “old” or “ancient” immediately comes to mind. It is scenes like these
that I am usually thinking of:
From Bratislava, Slovakia:
From Budapest, Hungary:
And from Prague, the Czech Republic:
It isn’t that a building must be old to be beautiful, but I would argue that some modern architecture is not only ugly but, and I realize I am an amateur here, downright silly. Like the I. M. Pei glass pyramid he plopped down on the grounds among the stately buildings of the Louvre in Paris:
(Now I’ve probably insulted any Parisians or architects reading this—please straighten me out in your comments.)
In contrast is a new skyscraper in Chicago that I want very much to see.
Paul Goldberger introduces us to the building and the architect in a fine piece (which you can read here) in The New Yorker:
Aqua—a new, eighty-two-story apartment tower in the center of Chicago—is made of the same tough, brawny materials as most skyscrapers: metal, concrete, and lots of glass. But the architect, Jeanne Gang, a forty-five year-old Chicagoan, has figured out a way to give it soft, silky lines, like draped fabric. She started with a fairly conventional rectangular glass slab, then transformed it by wrapping it on all four sides with wafer-thin, curving concrete balconies, describing a different shape on each floor. Gang turned the facade into an undulating landscape of bending, flowing concrete, as if the wind were blowing ripples across the surface of the building. You know this tower is huge and solid, but it feels malleable, its exterior pulsing with a gentle rhythm.
Three close ups of the lovely terraces Gang wove into the exterior of the design:
And the architect on one balcony during construction:
Marvelous beauty, amazing imagination, a design for a building that is a deeply moving expression of creativity by someone made in God's image.