A Little Ugly Never Hurt Anyone

Credit:  Getty Images

Everything in moderation, or so the saying goes.  In my opinion, this holds true for both beauty and grotesque in the built environment, for without one, the other holds no meaning.  For this month’s ArchiTalks, I will let my pictures do most of the talking.

You may look at the picture on the left and see nothing of merit.  How on earth can anyone help this double occupancy room?

The second picture is the same exact room.  There was potential in the room from the first picture.  The designers just had to coax it into existence.  We call it re-invention.


What’s wrong with a little decay?  It may be my rural roots, but all I see is a field of new pumpkins next year.

Speaking of decay…  Actually, this one kind of hurt.  But once the damage was done, this building in downtown Lancaster held an eerie beauty.
Before this building was worked on (and inadvertently destroyed) no one ever knew about that painted advertisement on the side of the wall.

Most old buildings are drafty, aren’t they?


Speaking of painted advertisements…  I love these barn billboards.  Yeah, yeah, chewing it will give you cancer….

But just looking won’t.  Hey, tobacco was a cash crop here.


This is a building in Lancaster as well, but it has been abandoned for as long as I can remember.  It was once the largest silk mill in the U.S. During the War, they made parachutes there so the windows were blackened to keep Nazi bombers from seeing it.  Over the years it settled into a state of decay that fascinates me.

Utilitarian in its nature, it is simple and brutal beauty in my opinion. The AEG Turbine Factory by Peter Behrens in 1909.

Architects have always been fascinated with decay and ruin.  The Romans built upon Greek ruins, and in turn, the West built upon Roman ruins to develop Neoclasicism.

My misguided fascination with decay may have its origins here. The picture to the left is where I studied architecture for 5 years.

This post is part of the ArchiTalks series where a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s theme is “Ugly” and was led by Jeremiah Russell.  A lot of other talented writers who also are architects are listed below and are worth checking out:

–>Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
ugly is ugly

–>Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Ugly Architecture Details

–>Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
unsuccessful, not ugly: #architalks

–>Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Ugly is in The Details

–>Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)

–>Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Ugly, sloppy, and wrong – oh my!

–>Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
[ugly] buildings [ugly] people

–>Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Is My House Ugly? If You Love It, Maybe Not!

–>Nisha Kandiah – ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
the ugly truth

–>Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)

–>Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Ugly or not ugly Belgian houses?

–>Larry Lucas – Lucas Sustainable, PLLC (@LarryLucasArch)
Die Hard: 7 Ugly Sins Killing Your Community