Form Should Never Follow Function

 

 “I heard a loud voice from the throne, and this is what it said: “Look! God has come to dwell with humans! He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them and will be their God.” Revelation 21:3

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Let me ask you. Where do you go “to get away,” to rejuvenate?  Someplace ugly or someplace transcendent, otherworldly, awe-inspiring and beautiful?

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Cabrini-Green Housing Project

Form follows function:  the principle is that the shape of a building or object should be primarily based upon its intended function or purpose.

Louis Sullivan’s phrase form (ever) follows function became a battle-cry of Modernist architects after the 1930s. The credo was taken to imply that decorative elements, which architects call “ornament,” were superfluous in modern buildings. However, Sullivan himself neither thought nor designed along such dogmatic lines during the peak of his career.

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As a student of Moody Bible Institute in the 70’s, one of several mandatory Practical Christian Ministries (PCMs) offered to me was to go to the nearby Cabrini-Green Housing Project and witness to the residents. (I chose ministering to alcoholics who frequented Chicago’s Skid Row Rescue Missions on West Madison St., “a 12-block stretch of flophouses, gin joints and battered dreams.”)

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Cabrini-Green: Chicago Housing Authority’s approach to the “urban renewal”

 

CHICAGO (AP) — To some, Cabrini-Green’s infamous high-rises were a symbol of urban blight — towering testaments to the failure of Chicago public housing to give safe shelter to the poorest of the poor.

But to the remaining residents being ousted from the complex’s last building, Cabrini-Green was simply home.

The closure of Cabrini’s high-rises this week marks the end of an ugly era in public housing. The 70-acre development was initially hailed as a salvation for the city’s poor that was emulated nationwide. But it quickly decayed into a virtual war zone, the kind of place where little boys were gunned down on their way to school and little girls were sexually assaulted and left for dead in stairwells….

The Cabrini-Green development began on Chicago’s North Side in 1942 with row houses named for St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, the Roman Catholic patron saint of immigrants. A few years later, high-rises and mid-rises were added. Eventually Cabrini housed up to 13,000 people.

The buildings, however, weren’t well-kept, and crime and drugs soon became rampant.

The complex drew national attention in 1981, after a gang war killed 11 residents in three months. Then-mayor Jane Byrne and her husband moved into a Cabrini apartment for three weeks to publicize her efforts to clean up the area.

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Chicago is now reaping the ‘benefits’ of post-modern architecture, constructions built without reference to natural forms. And you thought deconstructionism only applied to literature and to the meaning of words. It applies to the de-humanization of mankind:

Cabrini-Green: Chicago History Museum / Getty Images

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