Thursday, August 21, 2008

Disappointing Details: So Many Glazing Types, So Little Façade

"God is in the details." (Ludwig Mies van der Rohe)
To complement my new "Distinguishing Details" series, I though it would be appropriate to also start a series of posts on "Disappointing Details." Disappointing Details in my mind range from the well-intended but badly-executed to the just plain bad! Sometimes disappointing details are overdesigned and sometimes they are underdesigned. Either way, they can (and do) take away from the power of the overall design.

Good buildings can have OK details, but great buildings must have exceptional details.

One aspect of good detailing is good material selection. These images are of the new facility for New Haven's Cooperative Arts and Humanities Magnet High School being built downtown along College Street between Crown and George Streets. The building was designed by local architect Cesar Pelli (Pelli Clarke Pelli) and appears to be nearing completion of the exterior.

On the building, the designers have used at least three different patterns of ceramic fritted glass. Each pattern separately and in isolated usage would be fine, but the entire College Street elevation is covered with conflicting patterns. This creates some odd conditions where, for instance, tree leaves meet horizontal stripes! To my eye, the building seems to be suffering from too many different glazing strategies competing for attention at once.

Seems like someone couldn't see the forest for the trees!

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