Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is Ugly

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is Hideous

By J. Randolph Swope


The ancients believed beauty resulted from balance, subtlety and proportion.  Examples of this are the Parthenon and Pantheon.  Later Europeans continued this tradition with the Gothic architecture and neoclassicism that still cover Europe.  Fast forward hundreds of years over subsequent architectural movements, and one witnesses a radical change, a celebration of functionality. Finally, enter postmodernist architecture, a subversion of the high for the low.   The impetus for this revolution in style (the subversion of the high for the low) can be traced back to a religious distrust of man-made beauty in Middle Eastern mysticism (inter alias causas), which has a long tradition of antagonism toward occidental high-brow standards (as noted Nietzsche).  Nowhere is this war against beauty more manifest than the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, a 285,000 square-foot monstrosity currently being erected in downtown Kansas City.   And to add insult to injury, instead of contracting  local firms (Kansas City is known for its engineering and architectural firms), an Israeli firm (Safdie Architects) heads the design team.

Any chance we could start a petition to demolish this eyesore?  We already have sufficient (and aesthetically pleasing) concert halls to host events.

24 comments:

  1. FYI: The Nietzsche reference is to Middle Eastern mysticism not modernism, as Nietzsche antedated the latter.

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  3. As in the other post, the text here was corrupted because of the past from Word, hence the typos and nonaligned pastes. But all was quickly corrected.

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  5. We are fairly libertine as far as comments are concerned but please no threats (regarding comment #4).

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  6. I think it was a screw-up, but you want to correct "hundreds of year[s]" and "Nowhere can this war against beauty [be?] more manifest" while you're at it?

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  8. Thanks for the corrections. Actually, those mistakes were mine, not JR's. He gave the me copy for the post last night written on a bar napkin, and in quickly typing it up in Word and pasting it I made those typos.

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  9. "Everything is amazing and nobody is happy"

    Funny when the Nelson family put up the museum it was to make sure there was at least something representing higher culture in this town.

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  10. I would like to hear Tom Wolfe's take on the hideousness.

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  11. The cult of personality is all that is available from ARCH-E-TECTS today. Kansas city got sold two hugh egos. The Nelson addition and the Kauffman. It is actually interesting if thought of as a cemetery stone.

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  12. This is certainly not a threat, but I do have some sad news to deliver......Very few (if any) local artists and musicians will actually ever step foot in that place, in terms of performance, no matter what genre! I guarantee you that this will be a rich mans exclusive playground for out-of-town talent. Hide and watch!

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  13. My band was asked to perform at the "We're Opening One Year From Now" party that just took place. They actually had the balls to ask us if we'd perform free! We figured, "Well, we're never actually going to work at that place, anyway...so why bother?" We declined.

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  14. Design opinions aside (much can be said in favor or in opposition of a concept and a model - the final proof is in the building and the public experience of it)...there is a very odd falsehood in this post. Safdie Architects is perhaps not local to Kansas City, but it is located in Somerville, Massachusetts. I wonder what the author's intention was in misrepresenting the firm as Israeli?

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  16. Safdie Architects
    7 Shlomo Hamelech
    Jerusalem 94182
    Israel

    Wasn't Mr. Moshe Safdie born in Israel? Does he have dual-citizenship?

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  17. Mimicking classical architecture on that scale would look cheap and somewhat Las Vegas-like. There are a lot of people that think it looks great. So far, I think it looks like it will be impressive. The design compliments the entire Bartle Hall Convention Complex. At night it should look even better! There are so many negative people in Kansas City. This whole town is going to move to Johnson County if we don't get behind projects like this.

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  18. Dongo: you are only representing one of the firm's three offices. The firm website clearly gives its home base as Somerville, Safdie lives in Cambridge.

    I'm not sure what you are trying to gain for the author by posting misleading statements?

    (as a point of interest, Moshe Safdie has triple citizenship: U.S., Canada, Israel)

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  19. I like it and am glad that a wheelchair accessible performing arts venue will be available in KC.

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  20. Cowtown attitudes! This is a world class venue, of course you rednecks wouldn't approve.

    "Very few (if any) local artists and musicians will actually ever step foot in that place, in terms of performance, no matter what genre!"

    Bullshit! The Kansas City Symphony, Kansas City Ballet and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City will all perform here.


    http://foodnthings.blogspot.com/

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  21. It's probably the ugliest thing KC has ever built. I'd be willing to volunteer time to get people to sign a petition to have it torn down. Where do I sign up?

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  22. It's okay looking, the Sprint Center is the real abomination. What a giant joke of a place that is.

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  23. The comment about the origins of the "supposed" subversion of the high for the low and its religious mid east connections is somewhat misleading. it is more accurately liberal democracy and its egalitarian principles/ institutions and economic practices that create (insist) on the absolute availability of all things for all people in a free market, that establishes the contradictions and hypocrisies that lead to the "Subversion" this post identifies. regarding the design itself: quite appropriate that our conception of what makes an attractive architectural design is "asymmetry" in a world of so many extremes, and jarring imbalances. Indication that we see the world as fundamentally disordered, subsuming a lack of faith or perhaps a mistrust of the notion of genuine beauty after decades of reproduced and recycled styles.

    The "Performing Arts Center" of the 21st century is the architectural calling card of an emerging ultra-stratified society. similar projects are repeated in cities around the world.

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  24. Interesting--and even supportable--position, if still controversial, of course.

    It's difficult to deny that modern architecture doesn't go for subtlety or nuance, that's for sure, and the Kauffman Center surely proves that.

    I still think it's beautiful and enjoy it, if not love it, but anyone who could try to argue that it fits its surroundings is surely smoking something.

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