Gabion has an article on Saarinen’s London Embassy and how it is under possible threat (via). But the support is by no means unequivocal, and that’s par for the course in the UK especially where most Architectural critics still can’t seem quite to escape from the Pevsner monologue whispering to them in their heads.
It contrasts greatly with the gushing over Corbusier provoked recently by a big retrospective of his work in Liverpool. I don’t buy it. Corb was great but also greatly flawed, as David Byrne wrote really well about in his journal.
It’s not even that le Corb’s form of Cartesian logic in design was fundamentally formulaic but that it also misrepresented itself. Corbusiers image of modernism doesn’t match up to Saarinens enquiry from fundamentals that go into his buildings, which unlike Corb’s, unite technology and engineering into the Architetcure not merely subsuming them.
Le Corbs buildings in other words speak eloquently of an imagined machine-made rational future while being mostly hand built with traditional technology. While Saarinens buildings really did investigate and innovate with technology while conveying the aspirations of what was required and appropriate for the building.
Don’t get me wrong Le Corbs legacy can be picked over but his place as a great Architect is undeniable, its just I’d take Aalto over Corb, and Saarinen over Mies any day of the week……OK I feel much better now I got that off my chest, rant over.
Other Links – Yale’s Archive of drawings for the US Embassy. The photo above is from that Archive and is a set of alternative sketch’s made of the elevation.
update: only U.S. firms will be eligible to design the new U.S. embassy.