Don Friedman

Some More Thoughts On Ruins

I’ve talked before about “ruin porn” and my discomfort with the topic. I recently came across this seven-year-old essay on the topic: “The Unspeakable Pleasure of Ruins” by Rick Poynor. His thesis is that my misgivings are wrong, that there’s nothing wrong photos or other representations of ruins, regardless of the aesthetic intentions of the …

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Subtly Unplain

Yesterday, I mentioned mill-style architecture in Providence. Here’s an example. I suspect that the first floor is cast iron, but it could be steel with architectural sheathing. But buildings like this are, architecturally, all about the brick. As plain as this building is, there’s still a lot going on here. A short description of the …

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Frivolity

I don’t know Providence well enough to talk about the character of the city. Like a lot of small cities in the northeast, it’s had to move from manufacturing to a service economy, a transition that has probably been eased by the presence of several large educational institutions. A good percentage of the buildings downtown …

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Mass Production and Beauty

There are long treatises on the topic of the aesthetics of the machine age, starting in the nineteenth century and working their way up to the present. That topic includes everything from the precisionists to steampunk. Great stuff, but not what I want to talk about. The machine-made mass production of architectural elements in the …

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