Tuesday, 31 May 2005

Mediocrity and meddling announced by Hubbard and Co.

Authoritianism and mediocrity go hand in hand. So how to judge Dick Hubbard's announcement of a 'scorecard to halt ugly buildings' and an 'urban design taskforce' to vet new buildings except as a whole-hearted embracing of both. Herald story here.

Giving council's pimply planners and the designers of the beyond-bland Aotea Centre carte blanche to decide what they think is attractive and to reject the rest is like giving Dick Hubbard aesthetic control over Peter Jackson's films, or allowing Bruce Hucker to vet Karen Walker's spring collection. It's a recipe for blandness and mediocrity, and for the establishing in the Queen City of a closed-shop 'design establishment' to which everyone must pay obeisance no matter the merits of the members.

Frank Lloyd Wright had to fight for sixteen years and through eight different designs in order to get his final design for New York's Guggenheim Museum past New York's planning establishment, even as the planners enthusiastically embraced the concrete-box public-housing disasters that within a decade became the slums of the sixties. Frank wasn't part of the 'establishment.' His innovations weren't welcome, and would be unlikely to score highly on Hubbard's scorecard either.

"A member of the taskforce who did not want to be named, told the Herald last week that most developers would welcome the stricter rules 'but some of the development community is going to be upset'." What the Herald doesn't say is that, due to recent regulatory and statutory impositions from government both central and local many members of the 'development community' are already former members of that 'community'.

Expect to see more designers and developers retiring from the business as the stranglehold of mediocrity and meddling takes over in Auckland City.


  1. *sigh* Good, if rather depressing, post PC. If the Hubbards of this world hold sway, what happens to the possibility of aesthetic surprise, or the process where your eye and mind expands over time to understand what a Lloyd Wright was trying to do?

  2. Robert Winefield1 Jun 2005, 01:04:00

    So if I ever get back to Auckland there will be no roads and no new buildings. The port, the bus company and the rail roads will be on strike - assuming that they haven't been banned under the Kyoto Protocol. Events at Eden park will have to be over by 12 pm on a week day and there will be no motor racing or loud music within 600 miles of the Auckland CBD.

    You know, that sounds a lot like Auckland was when it was under the guiding hand of Robert Muldoon and his boys back when I was a wee lad...

    Dick and Helen must be so proud. Returning NZ to the socialist dark age in a little under a decade.

    Assuming the Greens haven't abolished the national grid by then, will the last person to leave New Zealand turn off the lights?



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