Thursday, March 13, 2014
NEW LIGHTING INSTALLED AT FRIENDSHIP HEIGHTS METRO STATION (PHOTOS) #WMATA #DC
Whether it is new and improved is up to your individual opinion. As an unabashed fan of Harry Weese's design concepts, I have always been satisfied with the architecture and atmosphere of the subway system since my first ride decades ago. Whatever reduction in light has occurred since then, based on my reading on the topic, has been more the result of dirt buildup on the surfaces of the station interiors, light fixtures, and from dirt blown in from the tunnels. The indirect lighting has always been a distinctive feature, and critical to the overall design concept. Improvements should be consistent with that original design, not subvert it.
I'm far from the only fan of that design, as the recent uproar over Metro's plans to "update" the system's stations demonstrated. Weese was recently recognized for his Metro designs by AIA, which gave him its 25 Year Award. Like Earo Saarinen, Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer, Weese managed to turn utilitarian infrastructure into an art form. An experience.
The station designs are (we soon may have to say, "were") distinctive, elegant, modern, and - frankly - make most other systems look cheap and tacky by comparison. Some people want to water it down, and make it more like the bland stations elsewhere. To each his (or her) own, I suppose. Apparently, being a fan of the old design and "Metro brown" has somehow become an unforgivable political statement to some.
A political statement? So be it. The best art usually is controversial. Tacky is, well, just tacky.
But for Metro to make cosmetic updates a top priority when trains still can't run automatically, and stations are still being shut down on weekends, and workers still aren't safe, and escalators don't work, and...etc., is definitely not the best use of resources and time.