Does the Demolition of Building Spaces Come With a Cost? (Video)
What happens when a building is both futuristic and visionary in its own time, but has its life cut short when it is demolished? Is the cost of maintaining such a building so great that it has to be destroyed? This is the topic of a new documentary called A Necessary Ruin: The Story of Buckminster Fuller and the Union Tank Car Dome.
The following is a trailer for this 30 minute documentary, which I think poses some interesting questions for us to consider when taking part in the demolition of building spaces. As you watch it, ask yourself how you would make a decision about whether to salvage, renovate, demolish or create a “memorial icon” of a building:
When and How Would You “Pull the Plug” on a Building?
Let’s go back to this question about the making of a building icon. By definition an “icon” is a a sign or representation that stands for its object by virtue of a resemblance or analogy to it. (Definition here) Considering this, at what point does a building become more than a sum of its parts in the minds of a people? And what makes its iconic status live on through decades and even generations?
The fate of a building seems to lead toward its evolution as a ruin. Maintenance is economically costly, yet its demolition can bear an emotional or intellectual toll in a people and/or place. So, what I ask is how can we either physically or virtually preserve a building that is lost to the perils of time? … Especially, when you stop to consider what innovations like the internet and computer modeling can do to preserve a living icon of a building and the perception received by its occupants both collectively and personally.
Is a building that reaches a certain “status” ever truly demolished? And how can you interpret what that status is? Is true preservation solely a physical renovation and maintenance mindset? Or does it lend itself more toward using a building to educate and inspire those who experience it in some form?
As an architectural designer, you should ask yourself these questions as you design building spaces; for, when trying to achieve great architecture, starting with an end in mind can give you both inspiration and some great ideas — carrying through your design process into the quality of life for your building.