If Barack Obama were a building…

what building would Barack Obama be?

I was inspired to ask this after appearing on Frances Anderton’s Design and Architecture on KCRW radio to talk about Barack Obama and design. Since, well, you know, this.

One Beautiful! reader suggested

Steven Holl’s addition to the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City.
I like the comparison. This is contemporary, yet well rooted. Shining forth. Full of culture. Energy efficient. Holds many ideas and is capable of doing many things at once. Works with nature. Very open.
Another reader suggested something like this

Infrastructure
If so, I hope it’s high-speed rail, well-designed infrastructure, plus broadband and alternative energies.

Would he be

a Louis Sullivan? Every inch “a proud and soaring thing, rising in sheer exultation” as Sullivan wanted his tall buildings to be? Sullivan, a transplant to Chicago, like Obama, certainly gave us optimism and the highest American democratic ideals. But his late nineteenth-century work came at a time of prosperity; and he wanted his tall buildings “without a single dissenting line.” Not sure that’s Obama.

How about

Unity Temple
Frank Lloyd Wright
Oak Park, Illinois
1905

Historic, new, original. A hybrid of two cultures, east and west. Tall, looks outward, radiates energy outward across the land. Radical, yet rooted. Modern yet traditional. Like Sullivan, Wright proclaims Emersonian American ideals. Seems to keep a lot to itself, kind of cool on the outside, a heck of a lot going on in the inside.

Let’s compare Obama to a more contemporary building.

What building do you think Barack Obama would be?

— Read part two here. —

A few months ago, I wrote about Obama and columns.

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8 Responses to “If Barack Obama were a building…”

  1. Edward Lifson Says:

    “every inch a proud and soaring thing” ?
    As Louis Sullivan declared the tall office building should be.

  2. Edward Lifson Says:

    “every inch a proud and soaring thing” ?
    As Louis Sullivan declared the tall office building should be.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    He would be the mighty infrastructure on which to build new worlds.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    He would be the mighty infrastructure on which to build new worlds.

  5. Frogger Says:

    The Steven Holl Nelson Atkins addition in Kansas City. It does an excellent job at being a museum by limiting light exposure to the works, but also allows for a very subtly complex experience. Its not flashy, but it is effective and remarkable. It is also new and fresh. It makes me wonder why all museums aren’t like this.

  6. Frogger Says:

    The Steven Holl Nelson Atkins addition in Kansas City. It does an excellent job at being a museum by limiting light exposure to the works, but also allows for a very subtly complex experience. Its not flashy, but it is effective and remarkable. It is also new and fresh. It makes me wonder why all museums aren’t like this.

  7. Edward Lifson Says:

    Good one. Nice image. But doesn’t Obama soar and shine more than that, with more inspiration? When i think of infrastructure, I think of someone like Bob Dole.

  8. Fifth Way Says:

    The Seattle Public Library: forward-looking, intelligent, jazzy, cool, open to all (even the homeless), filled with ideas and art and computers and a fun auditorium and people from all over and commerce (a shop and coffee cart) and books for learning everywhere. In many ways, it functions like infrastructure. The original library sign in contained within, but its surface is striking and new. All this and it’s on the Pacific Rim, from an international design team. Hooray for Barack!

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