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December 12, 2003
(from ideas much older)
A block away from where I live is the Noe
Valley Recreational Center. Essentially a
gymnasium, set in a building that looks like
it was supposed to be oh-so-*modern* when it
was first built.
It's got what I guess is the classic
"cantilever" roof, meaning that the
main structure of the roof are these
gigantic lever arms resting on
concrete pillars at the low end,
stretching up at a 45 degree angle to
the high end of the building.
At the low end, they stick out
past the edge of the building
where it looks there are
counter-weights hanging; but
this is a cheat: when you look
closely, you can see that the Presumably the
flat conical disk shapes turn architect's concept ran
out to be hollow. The actual up against the realities
anchors are buried underground. of building codes (and
The lever arms are made
of laminated wood, And thus the structure-made-visible
tapering so that they're that was central conceit of
thicker near the modernism became structure-
fulcrums where they need that-only-looks-visible-
to be stronger. but-has-really-been-hidden-again.
The wood is clearly rain (Tom Wolfe had fun
damaged in places. going on about this
Repair-plates and tar in "From Bauhaus to
paper have been slapped Our House")
on the sides here and
The walls of the
building are clad in
once a high-tech wonder,
now a cheap-looking,
And the crowning touch:
At some point, someone
decided to paint the
concrete portions of
this structure Women's
Ah, decaying modernism.
They meant so well.
They really thought they had it.
History has not been kind to this future.
This is probably my
favorite building in
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