Under a Bad Sign

Excerpts from Pittsburgh Architectural Club : Blog : Under a Bad Sign.

“Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown help explain the issue when he distinguishes between two kinds of buildings, the duck and the decorated shed. For Venturi and Scott Brown a building is a duck when it manifests its artistic content through its exterior form. (He used as a famous example a small building actually shaped like a duck). By contrast, a building is a decorated shed, more obviously, when it is a box onto which a sign or some other flat piece can be placed.”

“The building was built in a style of the Machine Age, but the lights on top, which notably poked above the height of the high plateau of nearby ridges, flashed “P-I-T-T-S-B-U-R-G-H” in Morse code. Touted as a directional marker for the new era of air traffic, it was in one sense redundant. The fiery glow of Pittsburgh’s numerous steel mills was already known to pilots as a navigation aid. The Grant Building beacon, more useful at a higher elevation, had the added benefit of signaling a new era of transportation and communication technologies.”

The latency of Morse code discussed here shoes how easily communication is interrupted by signals that more powerful than others without being actually relevant. It is clogging up the airways, which is a kind of interruption that cannot be so easily bypassed.


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