Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The Architecture of Humanity

Osita Nwanevu reacts to yesterday’s heartbreaking fire at Paris’ Notre-Dame:

How many things have we put up over the last few decades that would spiritually wound people the world over if they burned down a century from now?

Albert Burneko, Deadspin:

This is not how buildings go up in modern times, and not only or even mainly because technology and construction methods allow them to go up much faster than they did in the 12th century. The project, in constructing a medieval cathedral, was not to get the building up and completed and into use as quickly or efficiently as possible, so that the developer could begin charging rent on its interior square footage. The project was to make the most beautiful and most awe-inspiring possible work of devotion, to create the most permanent possible monument to the human ideals that inspired the project. The idea was to do this no matter how long it all took — to make the finished product vast and timeless and cumulative; such a building would invariably be filled with mystery, would hum with it, and would be worth tending and nurturing and loving forever.

One of the few projects I can think of that has not yet been completed is Gaudí’s Sagrada Família. When that’s done — probably within the next ten years — what other things have we built over the last hundred years that could safely join the ranks of stuff that has been built for the sake of humanity? What are we building today that, if it were consumed by fire, would cause the kind of global anguish and outpouring of grief that defined much of yesterday for the loss of the structure itself?