Purveyor. Not of goods, but of good ideas

Sunday, January 22, 2006

ARCHITECTURE: Bigger isn't better, or even bigger

Take a look at this building...

It's 6 Times Square at 1466 Broadway. Do you see the magnificent structure I do—timeless, majestic, dignified...and big? This is a powerful structure aesthetically and physically.

But here's another, more contextual view of the same building...

This is how I first noticed it, across a temporary opening created by the new construction in the foreground. What is striking is how the newer buildings surrounding and towering over it seem bigger in only one way: physical size. They're just large. In every other way—aesthetically, spiritually, emotionally—they are diminutive in comparison, like out-of-scale toy models placed next to a real object. Bigger certainly isn't better, but what's suprising is that bigger also isn't necessarily...bigger.

Here's even more of the context. I would have thought that perception of size is relative, that we get used to "large" in one context until something bigger comes along, but that's not what's apparent to me here. Take another look at the first photograph. Can it really be described as "small?" Large for its own sake is not enough to create the sense of size that communicates true power, beauty, majesty and dignity. Big just isn't enough. Apparently, it also isn't much.


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