Thursday, May 19, 2011

White brick advertising.

I live in a 22-story building on Manhattan's Upper East Side. It was built, like a lot of the Upper East Side, in 1964. At that time, a lot of new apartment houses were influenced by a housing project called Manhattan House, a block long collection of modernist residences sheathed in white brick. In short, my building is similarly covered in white brick.

There's a problem with white brick. Its outer surface is painted white and enameled so it gleams. What happens is this. Moisture gets into the brick through the surrounding cement and slowly begins to deteriorate and put pressure on the white enamel. The enamel cracks and flakes and eventually falls away.

As a consequence, my building is almost always under scaffolding. We are always in the process of replacing white bricks.

It occurs to me that many businesses and agencies are similarly white-bricked. Something about them is fundamentally wrong but rather than getting at the root of the problem (the inherent issue of the white brick) we merely replace things and hope history won't repeat itself. We are, that is, patchers, not fixers.

There are buildings in my neighborhood that were formerly white brick. They are now sheathed in red brick or beige brick. Their owners decided to bite an expensive bullet and not patch. Instead they actually fixed.

What are you doing with your white bricks?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I shit them whenever the MD comes in and tells us a round of layoffs is coming.

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