MEREDITH Strategy + Design

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Nothing says evil like LeCorbusier

There's a new TV program, "Shark," about a nasty, aggressive (therefore bad) defense attorney who becomes a nasty, aggressive (therefore good) prosecutor. Tad Friend writes a review of the show in a recent New Yorker.

When this new prosecutor allows a guy he's convicted to plea for a lesser sentence, in part because he lives in a Caftsman house, Friend observes that all the show's villains live in glass and steel boxes. He goes on to say (I assume with tongue in cheek) that "nothing says evil like LeCorbusier."

In one of my first lectures in architecture school, our professor of architectural history flashed a slide on the screen. It was a cartoon (New Yorker) illustrating parents throwing their son out of the house into the cold, blustery winter outside. The joke was in the house they lived in---a steel and glass box with nothing to visually separate inside from outside. What was the punishment in throwing someone out?

I flashed a bit on the Enron convicts and the style of houses they chose to build with their ill-gotten gains, but could not conjure up anything other than excessive historic styles. I have vague memories of the photos of the house Saddam built, but remember no steel and glass. I then wondered what kind of house Kim Jong Il lives in, but assumed it is neither Corbusian or Miesian.

It might be worth an informal survey---What alignments can you cite (literature, art, history, life) of good or evil with Corbusier, or others? Did the evil grow there (a result of the style) or just get attracted there (affirmation of the taste of evil)? If evil, are there variants between the residents of houses by Corbusier, or Mies, or Eames or, say, Neil Denari?