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Eavesdrop: Anne Guiney

These last few Sunday nights we’ve been glued to the TV, watching as many Jane Austen movies as possible, and this could explain why the immortal words of Pride and Prejudice’s Mr. Bennet keep coming to mind—”For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?” In that spirit, we had ourselves quite a chuckle the other day when reading Blair Kamin’s reviews of two new architecture shows in Chicago, one at the Graham Foundation and the other at the Chicago Architecture Foundation. We will never, ever, ever criticize the former, because we may ask Sarah Herda for a grant someday, but the CAF doesn’t give out money and so is fair game! Kamin praises both shows, and both seem interesting. We have to wonder what on earth was going through the curatorial heads at the CAF, however, when they settled on this title: Do We Dare Squander Chicago’s Great Architectural Heritage? Hmmm, we need a second to think about this—is it a trick question or something? Gosh, we are stumped, but we’re going to go out on a limb here and say we think not.

Speaking of odd titles and polemics, we also smiled at Allison Arieff’s latest blog entry in The New York Times, “Is Your House Making You Look Fat?” It took us a minute to get the joke (we think it has something to do with fat Americans who have to drive everywhere) and then settled in for some good old-fashioned suburb slamming. The former Dwell editor mentions a Brookings study projecting the need for hundreds of billions of square feet of space to accommodate future growth, and then tosses in this provocative and inflammatory piece of rhetoric: “In planning for that need, why not think beyond the formulaic subdivisions that threaten to turn our once architecturally varied landscape into indiscernible swaths of cookie-cutter sameness?” Eureka! Why didn’t we think of that? Okay, fine, not everyone shares our pleasure in thinking about transit-oriented developments all day long, but come on now, Gray Lady! 


Anne Guiney