Friday, March 04, 2011


John Stewart’s book on American politics points out how we are actually governed by lobbyists, who manipulate our representatives. Well, I always thought this was a more or less covert deal until I heard our new governor, Mr Brown, say publicly that he would have to check with our politicians as well as our lobbyist regarding his tax cuts and restructuring. So, in actuality, Brown has to influence the lobbyists who in turn will influence the politician on what their vote will be on issues. It is so blatant that Brown is pictured with a lobbyist that he is lobbying! This system is basically a version of the old method of bribery used for so long in so many other countries that we purport to abhor.

A few short years ago, the USA had a bicycle team that was sponsored by The US Postal Service. It took me a while to wonder how they were able to sponsor a team that must cost millions of dollars each year, and more so, why did they feel they had to advertise like that? Were they trying to get Europeans to defect from France’s Le Post?
I believe it cost more that one million dollars to sponsor a team for a season, and I wonder why US Postal seems to be having money problems & raise rates about every six months 2 cents at a time. So basically, to sponsor a team is to advertise. Do you ever wonder why a business has to advertise when it is a monopoly? However, I do take offense at our armed forces sponsoring NASCAR race teams to the tune of $20 million (National Guard for Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) & US Army paying Newman $7.4 Million. I do realize that NASCAR fans is where their cannon fodder comes from, but is it the best use of my hard earned taxes?

Each time I see the iconic Sydney Opera House in a photo I see the roots of our current maxi-buildings that have totally deviated from the simple concept that Form follows Function. Or better yet, Form & Function are one. If you see a human body with a couple of extra arms or legs, we perceive it as a freak. Jorn Utzen, a Swedish architect who had no buildings constructed, but had won several competitions, was the winner of this competition. The budget was $7 million. This is still touted as ”one of the great buildings of the World”. However, how would you feel if you thought your building would cost 7 M when after 16 years & 10 years late the final cost would be 14 times the budget at $103 Million. Since this fledgling architect didn’t have a clue of how to build his ‘Iconic Sails’, Ove Arup , fortunately was hired to cobble it all together. Even so, Arup took nearly six years to find a structural solution that would be economical to build (Economical?). They would all be segments of the shells, which seems kind of obvious to a lay person like me. Aside from costing zillions and decades over construction time, Utzon wasn’t able to incorporate a 3,000 seat Concert Hall into his design. They ended up with a smaller one of 2600 seats. In addition, the Opera Hall is inadequate to stage large scale Opera and Ballet.
Well, Sydney, I hope you’re happy with the competition & got your money’s worth, if you have any left. Any lessons learned?
1. Competitions are very sketchy method of design. There is not enough research, information to do in depth studies.
2. An architect should have experience & background for such a large & complex project.
3. What client is naive enough to begin construction before knowing how much it would cost? 14 times a budget should have defrocked the architect.