No More Corn in Egypt

The imminent destruction of a postmodern gem should inspire reflection on those dwindling resources: time and care.

Architects! If you must design in a historicist style, let it be Egyptian Revival. Those who advocate for buildings stylized to evoke the olden days—classicists, mostly, and those trads who love them—deploy the word timeless as if somehow to suggest that a particular set of forms can be, and indeed ever should be, immune to the vicissitudes and duties occasioned by changing times, changing peoples, changing climates. What they mean, of course, is the opposite: that certain precincts in the built environment should be time-full. That they should be static, anachronistic, dispatching us to some fantastical Age of Heroes—Georgian London, Palladian Veneto, Periclean Athens—when the orders, or rather some soothing and enforcing Order, prevailed. The picturesque is lazily conflated with the nostalgic: Things can only be cute if they’re retro. And preferably inhabited by hobbits or other dutiful smallfolk. Behind all that is a Poundbury sort of pessimism that shades from mellow melancholy into a thrilling end-of-days nihilism, a sensibility that forecloses the future as ine…

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