A TITAN’S LOWER HALF
I’m with Nicolai Ouroussoff. It’s a masterpiece. They call it “The Pants” in Beijing. A five-year-old gets why. From the ground it looks like the bottom half of a Lego Transformer. Those are legs, by god. Sturdy. In motion. Where’s the top half? What happened to the heart? The brain? The kid in you likes it right away. Or, at least, the kid in me did. Like a robot. Big. Straddling. Striding. You want to pat it. You want to get out from under its feet. You want to watch it mow down the surrounding buildings like some Terminator colossus. I love it when a work of art hits me right away with meaning full-blown. That’s how this building works. But… And… At the same time, you can’t get a hold of it. The scale, the spiral of changing angles as you move around, up and down–those aspects make it impossible for you to hold it as one shape, as one thing, in your mind. Hooray. Indelibly simple. Intriguingly complex. Reading Mr. Ouroussoff’s appreciation, with all of his insight and architectural background, I enjoy the building in a new way. I see more. Or perhaps more accurately, I can say more about what I see. The glory, however, is that one needs no intellectual mediation to “get” the building. I so admire that in any work of art. Rem Koolhaas is the guy who made it.
FYI, the picture above was taken from a cab caught in gridlock. The pictures below were taken from an office building where I was recently working. That’s mid-day in Beijing, people, mid-summer. You’re not looking at a digital exposure problem. You’re looking out the window with me. That’s what it’s like.
© i.e. ideas expressed 2011