Monday, April 24, 2006

Postmodernism Victorious Once Again!

This week Chicago’s Soldier Field lost its landmark status due to the recent massive, insane and crazy renovations (2003, Wood & Zapata). The New Soldier Field is, to say the least, a perfect example of Postmodern architecture. Although 2003 may be a bit late. Better still if it is Revivalist Postmodern. It is odd that such a drastic and weird project would have gotten the go ahead at the home of Da Bears. But it did, and it is awesome. Art or Idiocy? isn’t much for architecture, but buildings like this command our attention. It is raw, it is crude, it is contemporary style vs oldschool classical architecture. It is new on top of the old, and both sides showing. It is messy and confrontational.

No, it wasn’t built in ancient Greece, it was built originally in the 1920s (1922 - 1928, Holibird and Roche). It is called Neoclassical. Which means the architects designing it in 1919 were just reviving older styles. So it is kind of erroneous to complain about the originality of the original.

This is another example of people hating new things and change. People are against Soldier Field getting a makeover, but totally fine with all the other old buildings in the city forcing out tenants and being demolished for condos. Who the fuck is going to live in all these condos anyway? Tearing down neighborhoods and pricing out middle income families is just progress. Messing with Soldier Field is defaming the Bears, and History and America and cetera.

It is good that Chicago continues to make controversial and bold designs about architecture here. Chicago is a landmark for architecture, and it is because of risky moves. That is why Chicago has Mies van der Rohe, the Sears Tower, the Thompson Center, Millennium Park and the new Modern Wing at the Art Institute.

It is also funny, because this all adds up to a triumph of Postmodernity. Postmodernism rejects and deconstructs history. The architects came in and deconstructed the stadium. Within the framework of its historic Doric column colonnades, Soldier Field’s guts were replaced by a modern flying saucer. This is a juxtaposition that Pomo is all about. It is literally destroyed and re-whaterver-ng history to not use a historic motif, but to actually us a historic building. The old Soldier Field was Modernist. Built in the era of industry and the rise of modernity, its design came from ancient Greek and Roman stadiums. So Modernist.

So it is wonderfully Postmodern for a new building to come right in on top of it. And in the process leave a shell of the old, but strip it is a piece of history. The old building was designated historic, for being a time capsule to a moment that is hazily remembered romantically. But it is just old. And not even that old, since it was less than a hundred years old. And as mentioned above, the stadium took its inspiration from the ancient past. So where does originality begin? God, this is getting so 1997.

Here you can find a Flash timeline of the stadium

Chicago Tribune story on the new architects Brains behind new design of Soldier Field

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