I'm having a lot of feelings. It wasn't that I was unaware of the problems brought about by redlining and gentrification. I wasn't blind to the fact that the blame lie mainly on architects and the mysterious "elite". I think it was just getting more specific information on the atrocities and ideologies pushed out from the self absorbed "starchitects" and the rich buddies they assist in malfeasance.
As Cocotas' article highlights, modern architecture is rife with them. Architects who design with the wants and desires of those at the top of the pyramid with little to no regard for the lives of those of us at their mercy. One such example was Zaha Hadid (whom I found isn't related to Gigi Hadid; so disappointing). I didn't look very deeply into her other crimes against humanity but two that are touched upon in Designing for the One Percent are the MAXXI Museum in Rome and the Aliyev Center in Azerbaijan. The Maxxi Museum, while aesthetically pleasing is completely out of place in the neighborhood its in.
The utter rudeness of the structure is just one of its pitfalls. It was also a wildly unnecessary expense for the city. As reported by The Times, the thing costed about $150 million to build and costs about $8 million in maintenance annually. I'm sure that money could have been put to far better use.
Then there is the Aliyev Center. Much like its sister, it just out of the skyline, breaking up the harmony of the surrounding buildings. Heck, it even looks like a giant grey middle finger if you squint long enough.
The worst part of this out-of-place futuristic architectural offense? 250 families had to be displaced for its construction. Is it safe to call Hadid evil yet? Probably not. Especially since this total disregard for disruption/destruction of life is commonplace for architects. And as with most stupid and irresponsible things done a peoples' expensive, this evil is always explained away.
It is professed that the creation of these monstrosities will lead to the creation of jobs.
While that may be true, the majority of those are service jobs; the poor are forever kept in service of the wealthy. Any for any of the higher paying jobs, people are imported from other areas.
The every annoying, always-growing Barclay's Center is a perfect example.
I live about two blocks away from the thing. I watched it go from a whole in the ground to the ugly edifice it is now. Since its opening 4 stores have gone out of business and 3 restaurants have been replaced with worse looking, more expensive eateries.
Our rents of have gone up and the residential building they're currently tacking on to the stadium will most definitely not be affordable.
But hey at least we get to walk by this thing every day. One of many monuments to the immortal irreverent spirit of colonialism that rules us.
The wealthy and architects they employ deal with spaces and lives the same way games like Settlers of Catan does. They look look at a map and see free empty space or tiles that should be rearranged as opposed to lives and livelihoods. Between my most recent and previous assigned readings I've come to realize that almost every single "empire building" game suffers from that same flaw. The fact that you are affecting lives is kept out of scope. Even when you've killed your 12th Barbarian encampment in Civilization and are starting to wonder whether you or them are evil, the game draws your attention to some other equally as unimportant thing you need to do. Either that or they make the barbarians so annoying that you just decide their existence isn't necessary. this saddens me quite a bit, because when it comes to relations between the big bad corps and us, we are the barbarians in that life game
Before anyone takes offense and the hate mail comes in, when I say that we, the 98% percent are the barbarians in this analogy I don't mean we are savage/uncivilized. Rather that those who play the real estate game with our lives look at us as hindrances.
NPCs sitting on tiles that hold resources they so desperately need; Impeding the progress of their expansion
[Civilization gameplay in case you've no idea what I'm talking about]
I thought about this as I did I wandered the streets of Lower Manhattan. I started in the Financial District: headquarters of evil money stuff in New York and made my way up and through Chinatown. My mission was to find examples of a lacking of human contact. I focused on people for a bit but quickly began inspecting architecture. I made note of every abandoned storefront and unkempt edifice. I thought about which neighborhoods had parks where there was paint chipping off things. I checked off every pristine wall that would look better with the right amount of spray paint. While walking I thought back to the articles. Thought about which buildings Hadid would raze to build her next middle finger, were she still alive. I thought about my place in the game; about how many of the other people I passed were in the same place. I pondered whether or not they thought about it. Over time I got mad because I realized most people don't. That there may be no true end to this life game and the rich will always rich it up.
I felt angry, I felt helpless. I wanted nothing more than to fight. Someone. Something. The "system" the people. But I don't know which, whom or how. So I intend to fight with what I make. This next piece I make has got to make a statement.
Otherwise, I'll just keep wanting to fight everything; and I'm sure that's not okay.