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Posts Tagged ‘complexity in design’

Saul Steinberg was a genius for showing us how versatile a line can be.

Saul Steinberg was a genius for showing us how versatile a line can be.

Like that Steinberg drawing, the Parisian building facade pushes in and pushes out, has ceilings and floors, and carves places — albeit the tiny ones of deep sills and shallow entryways — out of mass. Items get applied, chunks get taken out.

It’s easier to see those thicker building walls in older American cities — Boston, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia — on buildings put up before curtain wall construction took over. Curtain wall construction, regardless of where it takes place, thins out walls and so abstracts function down to the single use of dividing inside and out.

Building owners looking to limit their liability sometimes impoverish the richness that a more complex wall offers. This article in the Canadian Center for Architecture website discusses the use of ‘pigeon strips’ to deter people from sitting in the deep sills of older buildings. I’m betting that liability is another reason that it’s rare to see streetlights on buildings in this country.

(Yes, pigeon strips to deter people, not pigeons, from sitting on the sills. They’re really heavy spikes, and perhaps they aren’t really meant for pigeon deterrence (that’s done more often with much thinner spikes in a fanned arrangement), but the CCA called them ‘pigeon strips’, so I’m continuing the practice.)

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