em: kevin аτ blackistone.com

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Structural Aging

Lexington Market in Baltimore has been replaced multiple times. It is being replaced again. The old building looks old. The market stalls look cheap – or not like what new urban market stalls says old-style market stalls should / did look like. The new market is supposed to harken to the look and design of the original market, but thoroughly contemporary design elements. There seems much that is known on how a building ages – the structural decay portion, that is, and a good deal said on how particular architectural vernaculars age – overproducing the new look for a current generation over the overproduced look of the prior. There seems less thought given to the simpler parts of how a building ages. While the way materials wear, decay and accumulate grime, the choice of colors and patterns seems less considered. Choices of bright colors, a beacon of the fresh and new, take little time in any level of air grime to accumulate an look of decay ahead of any structurally relevant schedule, while years of sun-bleaching do the work an many materials and paints of showing the irregularities which read as old. Today’s love of gunship doesn’t seem to acknowledge that even that flat color shows off any pattern of grime as well as any other flat color and chipping paint shows any color beneath just as well (as any old, actual gunship will show quite clearly). Any material with surface variation can well be expected to build a pattern, as the peaks are cleaned and the valleys are not. As structures age, and show there age more, frequently the level of care given to keep these issues at bay gradually decreases – it looks old and worn, and why put in the effort to such an old and worn thing. Present interests in the pre-aged use of pre-aged materials might seem aa means to circumvent these concerns, but become an even more difficult matter to maintain. How do you choose how to clean and maintain a thing that is meant to look old, but only the right kind of old? – never-mind that the next generation will find the aesthetic weathered whatever you do – Like getting past an unfortunate length of hair between styles, it seems hard for certain types of construction to last long enough to get credit for having lasted long enough. It seems that frequently any building seen to have aged past relevance must be replaced with another seemingly designed for the same fate as rapidly as possible. This is not an argument for architectural immortality, or presumption of required permanence, but rather a consideration of a aspects of the lifespan that seems less considered.

Further consideration should be given to what this mean for those for whom structures exist. Who is allowed to inhabit a space that shows a certain age? As a space demonstrates it seeming irrelevance, those who presume to know who is relevant find those inhabiting the space to be similarly irrelevant. It is then presumed that the update of the structure can update the inhabitants and users – usually through displacement in spite of typical claims that the individuals themselves will become themselves new through some form of newness osmosis of the freshwater stream. If this is to be the case, then one must look for what parts of the new infrastructure have been considered to have such a capacity to bring the current humans with it, and continue to do so as it becomes once again, an new old structure.

Transforms Lexington - [2020]

Moving wireframes of geometric constructs are overlayed upon footage of the first stage of demolition of Baltimore's Lexington Market proving a droning balance of new, clean structure of the so-deemed un-useful structure being removed. The masking effect draw the eye to different aspects and forms of the demolition and the once-hidden corners of the market as it is removed.

1 While this is primarily focused on the internal. The affects of architecture can be similarly analyzed in the context of the reflected amplifications and dissipations of sound on any city street, where corresponding parallel wall create standing echo chambers. Similarly - the ways in which barricades on highways are capable of amplifying highway noise to a neighboring suburb.

» June 2, 2020