July 20, 2016

Changing landscapes

Three stories on the BBC News website, tenuously linked to one another, caught my eye this week. Two stories come from the States but all involve large structures that can be seen – and were possibly designed to be seen – from the road, as well as those celebrating past of anticipated glories and which may or may not be preserved.

First up is the news that the wonderful ‘Big Basket’ building in Ohio is to be sold. Opened in 1997, this seven-storey landmark has made countless people smile, demonstrating the power of architectural design.


The ‘Big Basket Building’, soon-to-be former headquarters of the Longaberger Company, in Newark, Ohio

Landmarks of a different kind are being rescued and restored by Joel Baker, regarded as America’s leading restorer of fibreglass figures – which were a common sight on the country’s roads in the 19th and 20th Centuries, especially during the 1960s and ‘70s when they were made in large numbers.

Illinois Road Trip

A fibreglass figure – no longer an endangered species?

Baker’s work will be heartening for anyone who has fond memories of the giant roadside characters, which are often intrinsically linked with the towns in which they reside, pointing the way to businesses within them.

Less warming but even more spectacular are the subjects of ‘Dead Space and Ruins’, an exhibition at London’s Calvert 22 Foundation featuring photographs taken in locations throughout the former Soviet Union. They include places that have lain dormant and disused for many years, including brutalist blocks and futuristic-looking buildings that serve as reminders of an unrealised utopian vision, and how the built environment can very quickly become unwanted, unneeded or irrelevant.


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Architecture, Design, storytelling


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