Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Preserve the Beauty, Not Irrelevancy

Today, San Francisco Chronicle reported the story of an attempt to class S.F. North Beach Library as landmark. It is a depression read. I have no opposition to preservation, but I do have issue with San Francisco Bay Area's brand of preservation. Quite often, many people tried to preserve something ugly and irrelevant. Their obvious reason behind the motive seems to me to keep the small town (however ugly) feel and look.

Chronicle says:
Enter the modern architecture buffs who say the branch merits preservation because, in the words of the motion being considered on Wednesday, "it embodies all the principles of mid-20th-century American public library design and displays a signature style developed by Appleton & Wolfard."

Part 1 of the phrase is true for all seven of the firm's surviving branches, not just this one. As for the supposed display of "signature style," that's a stretch in any qualitative sense.

Where a branch like Eureka Valley spreads out with inviting ease, North Beach feels like what it is: an intruder shoehorned into what now is Joe DiMaggio Playground by order of then-Mayor George Christopher.

I have argued against such classification in my "This Fading American Life" blog and my feeling remains unchanged.

To me, we need to preserve something with true meanings and/or beauty. I've been to several very well reserved old cities and they are remarkable, not because they are simple old, but because they are beautiful and old.

For example, Bruges in Belgium and Prague in Czech Republic. Below are a few picture I took during my trips there and the Joe DiMaggio's Playground Library actually made wonderful North Beach uglier. It's high time to move on.

Bruges, Belgium:


City Park

St. John's Hospital and Belfry

Prague, Czech Republic:

Karl's Bridge

Karl's Bridge

And for one of the most wonderful libraris, one has to count the on in Strahov Monastery:

Strahov Library in Strahov Monastery

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