Sunday, September 25, 2011

Modern Buildings

The following is an excerpt from a work-in-progress called The Town I Live In.

As someone who teaches at both Fullerton College and Cal State Fullerton, I have to say that the architecture at Fullerton College is way more interesting and beautiful than at Cal State Fullerton.

C. Stanley Chapman agreed with me. When describing the “modern trend” in buildings, he says, “They used to be beautiful. Now they’re just straight up and down.”

Speaking of the “new” Fullerton Public Library in 1968, he said, “I think that is without any question, the ugliest building I have ever seen. To be set down right next to that very attractive City Hall. They say the inside is beautiful; I’ve never had the courage to go past the entrance.”

The student interviewing Chapman gave an interesting insight, explaining the modern trend in buildings: “I think everybody has read Fountainhead. That book by Ayn Rand where the hero takes all the facades off and makes everything plain. I think all the architects read that so there is no more rococo or embellishments of any kind. It is a shame.”

I always thought that the modern, utilitarian-style buildings were done simply for economic reasons, but I suppose there were philosophical ones too. Whatever the reasons, I’m glad many of the historic buildings in downtown Fullerton were preserved. They are way more interesting to me than any shopping center in Irvine, or any city that tore down their old downtown for the sake of “progress.”

fullerton college library Pictures, Images and Photos

Fullerton College Library


Cal State Fullerton Library

Here in America, we have a relatively shortened sense of history. We think a building built in 1934 is "old." I am reminded of a scene in the movie "Shadowlands" where C.S. Lewis is giving a friend a tour of Oxford and he says, "This is the new building." Someone asks him when it was built. "1763," he replies.

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