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sexy buildings or vanity fair?

By September 30, 20103 Comments

Yesterday stuff.co.nz posted an article on the ‘Top 10 Sexiest Buildings’.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/international/4174312/Top-10-sexiest-buildings

A list of anything starting with ‘Top 10’ will always be controversial and provoke debate.  The selection will always be subjective so perhaps it is not the list itself that is important, but the questions that it raises. What is the criteria to qualify as a ‘sexy’ building?  Why were certain buildings/structures selected and not others?  Who chooses the list?  Do people vote?  If so, who votes?  And how many votes did each building get?  What sort of credibility does a list like this have?  In particular, what sort of credibility does this list have when it was originally published by Reuters with a disclaimer ‘Reuters does not endorse this list’ – so why publish it?

In this case, the list of the top 10 sexiest buildings originally came from www.virtualtourist.com, from the VirtualTourist Miscellaneous Forum (that is about ‘fun and friendship with your fellow travelers’) in a discussion asking members to name buildings for a ‘sexiest’ building list. Posted between discussions about ‘anyone see or hear them whiz by’ (‘I lost several paragraphs of golden prose earlier today in the Portland Forum’ (this referred to an online discussion about Portland, not a building in Portland)) and ‘question of the day’ (‘which place caused you the biggest ‘wow’ on first sight?’).

The result, a press release with a list of buildings (no mention of the architect/designer/engineer), pictures and inane easy-listening comment like:

Sydney Opera House; Sydney, Australia

It was opened in the era of polyester and bad hair but this structure has always been timeless.

How does this type of article get published when architects struggle to get any constructive comment or opinion presented in the news media.

By comparison, Vanity Fair offered a much more informed example of a ‘best of’ list of buildings/structures in the August 2010 issue. ‘Leading architects, critics, and deans of architecture schools’ were asked to name the five most important buildings, bridges, or monuments constructed since 1980, and the greatest work of architecture of the 21st century. Vanity Fair published a list of the top buildings in each category, along with each person’s response on the website.

http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2010/08/architecture-survey-list-201008

The internet allows for widespread dissemination of information and opinion, good, bad and ugly. Is it that any publicity, is good publicity and we should just be happy that architecture is being discussed by a wider audience?

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Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • jm says:

    I believe Stuffs hits-o-meter jumps whenever they use words like sex and boobs, if architects make more juicy press realises then I am sure they could be up there with other great journalism headlining pieces like ‘Pussycat Doll’s sexy tips’ and ‘Lea Michele’s strip promise to Peta’. Architecture, as with many other fields, should be proud but not happy that it doesn’t make the likes of Stuff to often.
    This leads in to a long rant about the egg and chicken relationship of the masses and what they want.

  • Maximus says:

    “the egg and chicken relationship of the masses and what they want” ?

    The masses have clearly spoken, and what they want is sexy people and sexy buildings. You guys had a great discussion on property porn some time ago – this is a similar thing. I totally agree with your comment (in the original post) that the virtual tourist website is just “inane easy-listening” commentary – but then that’s really all you can do if you’re only an inane virtual tourist.

  • tomek says:

    Oooh, I know. Why don’t we design buildings that look like boobs? Oh, no… the Inuit beat us to it 😉

    -t