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Consumers Call the Shots


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To the editor:

In reference to Ben Joravsky's "Help Wanted: Preservation Chicago-style" article [October 24], well, who is to blame for the particularly hideous, dumbed-down, pink-and-white condominium buildings dotting Lakeview over the past 15 years--the latest expression of which might occur at 823 W. Newport? Is it architects? Developers? Politicians? Answer: the general public. The decline of standards in modern American culture is real. It has been observed, felt, and talked about in education, in entertainment, in general civility of behavior. Architecture is a victim too.

If the general public were two-thirds as caring about beautiful houses and buildings as the residents of Newport Avenue, this especially dark chapter of modern assembly-line architecture would end.

When will this happen? When ordinary people abandon their feelings of hopelessness and helplessness against corporate real estate interests, stop taking what's dished out, get empowered, and once again think of architecture as a consumer commodity. The nation's biggest corporations in other industries jump to the demands of the lowly consumer; why not real estate? Why do the captains of real estate companies get to be prima donnas? After all, what brought about the classical revival and other styles of the past that we all hold dear? Not politicians, developers, or architects per se, but high public expectations in a free market of architecture style. The same high expectations are required for the long-desired return to architectural equanimity.

Peter DeCamp


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