On the left (appropriately as you'll see) is the world's twenty-second tallest skyscraper, and Pyongyang's largest hotel -- although since the North Korean capital has few tourists and of those few barely any wish to spend a night in a vertical mausoleum, it remains steadfastly empty.
Just as the North Korean economy if modelled on the economic thinking of Joseph Stalin, so too the un-hotel is designed somewhat in the manner of the Stalinist hotels built around Moscow in the forties and fifties. But the one-hundred and five storey Ryugyong Hotel stands on a vastly different scale even to those brutes and with an aesthetic taste rarely if ever seen before. Fortunately.
Amidst Pyongyang's skyline of uniformly tawdry ugliness, the Ryugyong Hotel's carcass stands tall. "The hotel is such an eyesore," says Esquire magazine, "the Communist regime routinely covers it up, airbrushing it to make it look like it's open -- or Photoshopping or cropping it out of pictures completely." [Hat tip James Heaps-Nelson]
On a different scale, but no less repellent for that, is the new Akron Art Museum by competition winners Coop Himmelb(l)au*, who in their design statement say,
The museum design introduces the firm's unique approach to historic structures, pioneered in Vienna, to the United States.... The museum of the future is a three-dimensional sign in the city, which transports the content of our visual world. There are no longer showrooms, which show digital and analogue visual information in the most diverse forms, but also the spaces which cater to urban experiences... Rather than going to the museum simply to look at art, visitors are welcomed to engage in artistic discourse, attend music and arts festivals, or maybe just hang out on their way elsewhere. Blah, blah, blah.
Another American city bends over to pick up the soap for a gang of Eurotrash art theory hustlers... To me it just looks like a mechanical alligator snarfing down a Beaux Arts post office... The upper jaw thing hanging over the original building is called "the roof cloud." I suppose it will allow visitors to "hang out" on the roof of the old building when it's raining out. Or something like that.
Feel free to click on all three images to feel the full grotesqueness of them all and, if you can handle a video of the un-hotel, click on that Esquire link.
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* Yes, that is the correct spelling. A commenter at John's blog suggests "the "(l)" is to put emphasis on 'blaah' sound that one makes when they throw up, the same reaction one gets when they see their work."