Each of you put on your hardhat and think about the following questions:
1. In your own hometown, what is the best public building?
2. Again, thinking of where you live, what is the worst public building?
3. And finally, either in your own hometown or just in general, what do you consider the best modern public building? (For the sake of argument, let’s let “modern” mean anything done since 1962, and not necessarily tied to the Modern style. Purely arbitrary, I know.)
1. The obvious building that springs to mind is the Santiago Calatrava-designed addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum. Have a browse through the picture gallery - it really is incredible. It sits on the lakefront at the end of the main east-west avenue. Unfortunately, the view of the MAM is marred by the presence of an outdoor sculpture by Mark di Suvero called "The Calling", a huge orange I-beam conconction that looks like a fifteen foot tall sunburst. It is, perhaps, a sign of its place in the hearts of Milwaukeans that I cannot find a picture of the thing on line (I didn't have the heart to look for very long). It was installed in 1982 and has been controversial ever since, but never more so than when it blocked the view of the multi-million dollar addition to the Museum.
2. The Reuss Federal Plaza. It really is cobalt blue. It sits in the center of a neighboorhood of graceful late 19th and early 20th century office and retail buildings. It was built for additional federal offices. Even the Feds have moved out of it recently.
3. My tastes run more to old buildings, and the newer stuff doesn't readily catch my eye, unless it was deliberately designed to look old.