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View Poll Results: Has architectural modernism failed?
Yes 190 45.13%
No 231 54.87%
Voters: 421. You may not vote on this poll

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Old August 4th, 2011, 08:20 PM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
You might argue about originality, but mass production... greatly expanded access to those goods (music, art, clothes, cars and architecture) compared to the situation before the Industrial Revolution and mass production for each of those goods!

We might live in "blunt and characterless" houses, but I bet the average person in any developed country and almost all underdeveloped country lives with a far better standard of objective quality and welfare than before. One needs to stretch the reasoning to argue that urban housing in London of 1700 (plague, epidemics spread by raw sewage and rotten water, fires) is better than now.

Same applies to anything else you cited. Without de-railing the topic, cars must be mostly blunt and made-for-profit, but there are 1,2 billions of them all over the World. If only "creative inspired, untamed by business" cars were to be produced, only a few rich people would be able to buy Aston Martins, Ferraris and Lamborghinis. Same for clothes: someone doesn't need to rich to be able not to dress exactly like everyone else in the village.



Same rebuttal: 200 years ago, most slums and tenements were built without an iota of care about how people working in factories would feel.

Moreover, architecture is overrated in its ability to frame a people's state of mind.
I have to agree with this 100%. Very well stated. Ironically, this whole fretting over mass production and "modernisation" is nothing new. William Morris founded the Arts and Crafts Movement, and it lasted from 1860 to 1910. He strongly felt that mankind should go back to a slower, more romantic, hand-crafted approach to our manufacturing, and our architecture. It was an admirable theory, but in practice failed miserably because it failed to address the reality of rapidly burgeoning populations that needed to be housed. When the movement finally petered out, a disillusioned Morris realized that you cannot turn back the hands of time.
It is exactly the same now. People look at gorgeous old buildings (that realistically could NOT be replicated now even if we wanted because we do not have the craftsmen anymore) and romantically believe we should revert back to that style of architecture. If we did, as suburbanist has pointed out, we might very well slide back into mass poverty, and overcrowding. Romantic looking back in history is all well and good, but it is hardly a "failure" to deal honestly and realistically with the problems associated with a rapidly growing population. We should be thanking, not cursing modern architects like Le Corbusier, who had the foresight to provide clean, decent housing for the masses and give them self-dignity. Next time we dismiss "Commie Blocks" as being aesthetically unpleasant, try to imagine the nightmare of hovels those people would have had to hole up in had there not been modern apartment blocks for them. As romantic as we get about "The Old Days", we also have to take a stab at being realistic.

Queen Street, and King Street in Toronto are now very fashionable, but parts of them were not always so. Here are some photos from the City of Toronto Archives showing slum housing back in the Good Old Days:







condemned housing on Spadina, 1917:



more grit from Toronto that was erased by the dreaded "modernism":

Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyronin View Post
Pretty gritty town.

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Old August 4th, 2011, 08:36 PM   #42
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this is a very broad and wide ranged discussion

its not just modernism in general, its how and where it is used

i think modernism, in order to "replace" classic architecture has failed,

but if we consider modernism not as a replacement, but as an extra and new form of architecture , it is fine, as long as it is not there to replace classic architecture

has it failed in our current world? maybe, to a certain degree. it depends heavily on where you are talking about

if its tokyo or hongkong and shanghai, its a good use of space etc, improvement (as i here from many of the locals), but for a city like rome, or prague, its the enemy of the culture of those cities, a destroyer rather than savior, the people consider it a threar

we have to also take consideration in the pride many people have with their traditional architecture, especially in areas where cities have kept their classical forms in general (like europe)

its a tough question
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Old August 4th, 2011, 08:47 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by Taller, Better View Post
It is exactly the same now. People look at gorgeous old buildings (that realistically could NOT be replicated now even if we wanted because we do not have the craftsmen anymore) and romantically believe we should revert back to that style of architecture. If we did, as suburbanist has pointed out, we might very well slide back into mass poverty, and overcrowding. Romantic looking back in history is all well and good, but it is hardly a "failure" to deal honestly and realistically with the problems associated with a rapidly growing population.
Interestingly we already had such a movement which reverted back to earlier styles: Historicism, in the late 19th century. And contrary to what you say these houses didn't lead to overcrowding and mass poverty but were actually built to counter these problems. The buildings were pretty cheap since they were mass-produced, and prefabricated interiors could be ordered in catalogs for example.
Today they are usually the most popular and expensive quarters in European cities.

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Old August 4th, 2011, 09:36 PM   #44
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Heck, every city in the world had mass produced "neoclassical" buildings where the parts were ordered mish mash from catalogues, and slapped together willy-nilly. Instead of carved stone, there was tin, or cast iron covered with paint. Today they do the same thing, but with precast concrete, or in some cases simply moulded fibreglass to make fake "pseudo-historical" detailing. No one is saying we should never pay homage to past designs, but rather that it is not realistic to do on a mass scale. When the project is very high end, and a lot of money is spent on it (like this Toronto condo designed by famous American architect Robert Stern), it can be done in a very pleasing way. This condo is reminiscent of the Art Deco period, but close up it is certainly no Chrysler Building. It has been constructed in a very expensive, but "modernistic" fashion, with a nod to the past:



When the budget is lower, and materials obviously become less high end, it can be (and often is) an aesthetic nightmare. Nothing is worse than a kitschy, badly done imitation. So, by all means go ahead and design buildings like this as part of the mix, but as an overall solution it should not replace modernism. Even at its most carefully done, however, precast concrete is never going to look as nice as this old neoclassical banking building here in Toronto:



No matter HOW hard we try, we are NEVER going to get stone carvings again like at the mid century University of Toronto:



We simply are never going to get this type of carved oak panelling again, except for extremely rare and ultra high end historical restoration projects:





I suspect the gist of this thread is really a question of :"Do you prefer the aesthetics of historical architecture or the aesthetics of modern architecture?" That seems to be how everyone is weighing in here. But, couching those terms as a "failure of modernism" is not realistic. We are not living in 1850 now; we are living in 2011, and the best we can do is mimic or try and copy at a small scale to produce the odd imitation of past glory. On a broader scale we are far more honest and realistic to have wisely gone down the path of "modernism". Quite contrary to having been a "failure", modernism has virtually salvaged a comfortable, clean and well housed society. I doubt if anyone here wants to go back to working 10 hour days, 6-1/2 days a week for a dollar a day, and live in a hovel just to provide some fabulously wealthy banks or citizens hand carved finishes.
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Old August 5th, 2011, 12:32 AM   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoroushPersepolisi View Post
its not just modernism in general, its how and where it is used

i think modernism, in order to "replace" classic architecture has failed,
"Replacements" of variable reach and scope had been happening since much earlier. The coincidence is that the apogee of modernism coincided, in most countries, with the apex of urban growth in large cities (combination of rural and small city out-migration to larger areas) after WW2.

Where this process happened earlier, on late 19th Century, neoclassical fake building were hastily built after large swaths of land and medieval patches of building of different ages were cleared.

Quote:
but if we consider modernism not as a replacement, but as an extra and new form of architecture , it is fine, as long as it is not there to replace classic architecture
Taken to the limit, this would mean cities would never replace any building, and by doing so it would mean places like Jerusalem, Rome or London should have twice their area, alone, in the form of unusable/out-of-fashion old buildings.

Demolition and substitution is inevitable, to variable degrees.

Quote:
has it failed in our current world? maybe, to a certain degree. it depends heavily on where you are talking about

if its tokyo or hongkong and shanghai, its a good use of space etc, improvement (as i here from many of the locals), but for a city like rome, or prague, its the enemy of the culture of those cities, a destroyer rather than savior, the people consider it a threat

we have to also take consideration in the pride many people have with their traditional architecture, especially in areas where cities have kept their classical forms in general (like europe)

its a tough question
[/quote]

Enemy of culture? What are you talking about? With all due respect, it seems you don't have a clue of the urban development history of Roma. The classical city (whose most famous remains are the Colosseum, the Pantheon and the Forum - among others) itself was a recollection of built-and-rebuilt buildings spanning over 5 centuries before the barbarians ransacked the city.

Then, you had early medieval reconstruction that torn down many classical stone-and-marble buildings. Later, the Baroque periods. And then, Renaissance. Around that time, the Catholic Church leaded by its popes decided to build the gigantic St. Peter's Basilica and other buildings, many over former ruins/remains. Many areas of the city were renewed and rebuilt over time.

In absolutely no way have European cities preserved their classical forms, if not by the fact many of them were barely hamlets or cottages by classical times.
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Old August 5th, 2011, 07:53 AM   #46
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you completely missed my point

by modern replacing/not replacing, i meant that city cores should remain the same
this is the case for most developed countries, eg paris
old paris is old and the new is new, none ruins the other

and by modern being destructive i mean todays modernist architecture against classical 18-20 century architecture (what has largely remained), not how rome changed in the middle ages, in comparisson to roman times

im saying that many people i have met dont like the traditional architecture of their cities being destroyed by 21st century modernist designs
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Old August 6th, 2011, 09:38 AM   #47
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
of culture? What are you talking about? With all due respect, it seems you don't have a clue of the urban development history of Roma. The classical city (whose most famous remains are the Colosseum, the Pantheon and the Forum - among others) itself was a recollection of built-and-rebuilt buildings spanning over 5 centuries before the barbarians ransacked the city.

Then, you had early medieval reconstruction that torn down many classical stone-and-marble buildings. Later, the Baroque periods. And then, Renaissance. Around that time, the Catholic Church leaded by its popes decided to build the gigantic St. Peter's Basilica and other buildings, many over former ruins/remains. Many areas of the city were renewed and rebuilt over time.

In absolutely no way have European cities preserved their classical forms, if not by the fact many of them were barely hamlets or cottages by classical times.
With all due respect, I would have to disagree with your entire post. European cities have in fact preserved their classical forms. Their urban cores are largely devoid of modern skyscrapers and post war architecture. Their "modern" commercial districts are predominately located outside of the city center where development is not restrained by the restrictions imposed in historically landmarked areas. La Defense in Paris and Canary Wharf in London come to mind.

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Florence Italy


Brussels, Belgium

Please tell me where the glass and steel skyscrapers are in these pictures?

Last edited by ajs0503; August 6th, 2011 at 09:55 AM.
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Old August 6th, 2011, 04:37 PM   #48
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With all due respect, I would have to disagree with your entire post. European cities have in fact preserved their classical forms. Their urban cores are largely devoid of modern skyscrapers and post war architecture. Their "modern" commercial districts are predominately located outside of the city center where development is not restrained by the restrictions imposed in historically landmarked areas. La Defense in Paris and Canary Wharf in London come to mind.
The word here is "largely". But that doesn't mean that the centers are devoid of modern architecture (interesting or not).

Paris:

Arab Institute:

image hosted on flickr

arab institute in paris by Chanwoo, on Flickr

Jussieu:

image hosted on flickr

Jussieu by ★iPh4n70M★, on Flickr

Tour Maine-Montparnasse:

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Paris - Tour Montparnesse by wallyg, on Flickr

Centre Georges Pompidou:

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Pompidou Centre by James_at_Slack, on Flickr

Le Forum des Halles:

image hosted on flickr

Le Forum des Halles by ouebe, on Flickr

Oh, and BTW, don't you remember this? When it was built, people actually thought that it didn't go well with ALL the rest of Paris:

image hosted on flickr

Eiffel Tower by eb.lv, on Flickr

As someone in the forum said in another thread: PARIS IS NOT A MUSEUM. It is changing all the time, although it might not be obvious to some of you.

The same certainly holds true for modern architecture in London.

P.S. La Defense and Canary Wharf are modern BUSINESS districts,

Last edited by tpe; August 6th, 2011 at 04:48 PM.
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Old August 6th, 2011, 05:48 PM   #49
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Any city that ceases to develop and strives to remain exactly the same does become a dusty old museum. No one wants to live in a museum. Thankfully Paris and London are not like that, and are embracing modernism. Took longer for European cities to follow the curve than North American or Australian cities, but they have definitely enthusiastically embraced modernism to complement their past instead of relying solely on copying the past. Obviously the modernist movement has a lot of support in Europe, or there would not be so many voluntary members of this "skyscraper" site.
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Old August 6th, 2011, 08:36 PM   #50
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Has anyone actually been to Europe? Compared to North American cities their urban historical architecture is largely preserved. Of course every European city has a few modern buildings in it's urban core, but I am speaking comparatively.

You are missing my point. It is one thing to appreciate modern architecture and support it's construction outside of historically designated zones; however it is quite another thing to consider that everything old is ugly and should consequently be torn down.

"Paris is not a museum"? And your source is a random, anonymous poster on Skyscrapercity?

"The modernist movement has a lot of Support in Europe". Have you read the postings submitted by Europeans on this thread? Also, have you checked the poll lately? Yes this is skyscrapercity, the bastion of modernism and skyscrapers. I'm actually surprised how many voted yes.

Finally, have you ever walked down a street in Paris? The architecture largely consists of homogenous second empire buildings.
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Old August 6th, 2011, 08:45 PM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoroushPersepolisi View Post
its not just modernism in general, its how and where it is used

i think modernism, in order to "replace" classic architecture has failed,

but if we consider modernism not as a replacement, but as an extra and new form of architecture , it is fine, as long as it is not there to replace classic architecture
My thoughts exactly!!!
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Old August 6th, 2011, 09:08 PM   #52
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In absolutely no way have European cities preserved their classical forms, if not by the fact many of them were barely hamlets or cottages by classical times.
Many European cities have preserved their classical (Greek and Roman) street plans as well as structures, but it goes a bit deeper than this. In Rome, for example, ancient buildings have been incorporated into new ones (Theatre of Marcellus), found a new use (Pantheon) or left other mark(s) in the urban fabric (Piazza Navona on what was once a stadium). Indeed many of European cities were founded in Classical times and it shows.
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Old August 6th, 2011, 09:11 PM   #53
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Has anyone actually been to Europe?
Yes, and in more cities that I would care to mention, and at least 5 to 8 times a year.

And you? Do you visit North America with the same frequency?

Quote:
Compared to North American cities their urban historical architecture is largely preserved. Of course every European city has a few modern buildings in it's urban core, but I am speaking comparatively.
So, Medieval Paris and London are pretty much the same as the cities you see now, correct? If you answer "yes", then you clearly don't know what you are talking about.

Quote:
You are missing my point. It is one thing to appreciate modern architecture and support it's construction outside of historically designated zones; however it is quite another thing to consider that everything old is ugly and should consequently be torn down.
No. YOU are missing the point. The fact is: European cities have changed DRASTICALLY over the past 2000 years. Rome of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages is largely replaced by Rome of the Baroque period. The Paris you see today is largely the creation of the 19th Century, as much as NYC and Chicago are products of the 19th Century. To claim otherwise is to be completely IGNORANT of the evolution of European Art and Architecture.


Quote:
"Paris is not a museum"? And your source is a random, anonymous poster on Skyscrapercity?
.

Are you DENSE? I am not claiming him as a source. What I am saying is that HE SPEAKS THE TRUTH, and he is a Parisian at that. Do you live in Paris? If not, then what IMPUDENCE it would be to put your NAIVE opinions over his.

I suggest that you take a closer look at the history and evolution of the urban centers of Europe, and learn how much they have changed over the centuries. THEY ARE NEVER STATIC.

The absolute nerve of these people... It is like talking down to children!

Last edited by tpe; August 6th, 2011 at 09:19 PM.
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Old August 6th, 2011, 09:18 PM   #54
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Any city that ceases to develop and strives to remain exactly the same does become a dusty old museum. No one wants to live in a museum.
Then why is it that these "dusty old museum" areas are actually the most sought after areas to live in many European cities, and are far more popular from a residential point of view then the modern city centres of most North American cities?



Overall, I think modernism suffers because a bad modern building invariably looks far worse than a bad old one.

There are plenty of great modern buildings. Perhaps the most iconic is the Sydney Opera House, which would be very hard for anyone to replace.

It's just that when modern buildings are poorly and cheaply made and designed, unlike the old mass produced but still decorative old buildings, the modern ones have nothing to soften their ugliness.
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Old August 6th, 2011, 09:23 PM   #55
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How did this thread become "Europe vs North America", and why are people making ridiculous sweeping generalizations about others simply because they don't live in the same region as ourselves? Let's try and remember the topic of this thread: "Has modernism failed?", and try to understand what others are saying!
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Old August 6th, 2011, 09:25 PM   #56
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I would rather not engage in an argument that is infused with vitriol. I happen to live in North America and have traveled to Europe extensively. All I ask is that you read the posts that were submitted by Europeans on this thread and you can make whatever conclusions you like.

Paris, London, and Rome largely consist of neoclassical structures. That cannot necessarily be said of North American cities. Or would you rather there were a few glass skyscrapers around Picadilly Circus or the Piazza Del Campo?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tpe View Post
Yes, and in more cities that I would care to mention, and at least 5 to 8 times a year.

And you? Do you visit North America with the same frequency?



So, Medieval Paris and London are pretty much the same as the cities you see now, correct? If you answer "yes", then you clearly don't know what you are talking about.



No. YOU are missing the point. The fact is: European cities have changed DRASTICALLY over the past 2000 years. Rome of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages is largely replaced by Rome of the Baroque period. The Paris you see today is largely the creation of the 19th Century, as much as NYC and Chicago are products of the 19th Century. To claim otherwise is to be completely IGNORANT of the evolution of European Art and Architecture.


.

Are you DENSE? I am not claiming him as a source. What I am saying is that HE SPEAKS THE TRUTH, and he is a Parisian at that. Do you live in Paris? If not, then what IMPUDENCE it would be to put your NAIVE opinions over his.

I suggest that you take a closer look at the history and evolution of the urban centers of Europe, and learn how much they have changed over the centuries. THEY ARE NEVER STATIC.

The absolute nerve of these people...
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Old August 6th, 2011, 09:35 PM   #57
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This is turning into a "Region vs Region" thread very rapidly, when the discussion should be about modernism as a design concept. Modernism exists all around the world; not just in one region. Many of the great Modernists came from Europe: Le Corbusier, mies van der rohe, Marcel Breuer. etc...

Let's stop insulting each other and assuming no one has travelled because they do not agree with us, and just discuss the topic.
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Old August 6th, 2011, 09:52 PM   #58
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This is turning into a "Region vs Region" thread very rapidly, when the discussion should be about modernism as a design concept. Modernism exists all around the world; not just in one region. Many of the great Modernists came from Europe: Le Corbusier, mies van der rohe, Marcel Breuer. etc...

Let's stop insulting each other and assuming no one has travelled because they do not agree with us, and just discuss the topic.
Youre right. For me, it is simply a matter of historical preservation. I wold much rather live in a circa nineteenth century brownstone than a modern high rise, but that's just me and I'm sure there are many people who have similar preferences. All I ask is that modernism does not encroach on what we already have that is of value. It only takes the demolition of a handful of historical buildings a year before a city loses it's classical elegance and historical integrity in a century's time.
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Old August 6th, 2011, 09:58 PM   #59
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I would rather not engage in an argument that is infused with vitriol. I happen to live in North America and have traveled to Europe extensively. All I ask is that you read the posts that were submitted by Europeans on this thread and you can make whatever conclusions you like.

Paris, London, and Rome largely consist of neoclassical structures. That cannot necessarily be said of North American cities. Or would you rather there were a few glass skyscrapers around Picadilly Circus or the Piazza Del Campo?
VITRIOL is necessary to balance the BASENESS of the opposing argument, if you would allow me to say so.

And you will admit that many of what you call "neoclassical" structures are not more than 200 years old, correct? So would you say that London and Paris were completely empty of buildings and structures before that? After all, London and Paris have been on the map for about 2000 years. So, one can never think of Paris and London as ever being anything BUT neoclassical? LOL

Do you see the foolishness of your argument?

Can you tell me the predominant architectural style of Le Marais? I will tell you this: it is NOT neoclassical. And you don't need to be a European to see that.

So you completely disregard an entire district of central Paris, and say that the City is largely neoclaasical?

To travel extensively does not mean that you SEE, apparently.
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Old August 6th, 2011, 09:59 PM   #60
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Youre right. For me, it is simply a matter of historical preservation. I wold much rather live in a circa nineteenth century brownstone than a modern high rise, but that's just me and I'm sure there are many people who have similar preferences. All I ask is that modernism does not encroach on what we already have that is of value. It only takes the demolition of a handful of historical buildings a year before a city loses it's classical elegance and historical integrity in a century's time.

Hey, I'm the same way! I would much prefer to live in a 200 year old Georgian brick house than a 2011 condominium; but I'm also realistic enough to know that the entire population cannot live in lovely old houses, and many simply need to be housed at an affordable rate. This was particularly true after World War Two, when Modernism sprang up as a solution to many social ills. Therefore, I cannot say that Modernism has failed, when I think it has hugely benefited society as a whole.

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VITRIOL is necessary .
And NO, guys, Vitriol is not necessary. Let's put all the anger in box, and tie a ribbon around it. Okay? Thanks.
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