Found an interesting quote by Minoru Yamasaki, the designer of the original WTC Towers in New York. Ironically, he argues against applying a monumental approach to all architecture – kind of a Bigness in reverse:
“There are a few very influential architects who sincerely believe that all buildings must be ‘strong’. The word ‘strong’ in this context seems to connote ‘powerful’— that is, each building should be a monument to the virility of our society. These architects look with derision upon attempts to build a friendly, more gentle kind of building. The basis for their belief is that our culture is derived primarily from Europe, and that most of the important traditional examples of European architecture are monumental, reflecting the need of the state, church , or the feudal families — the primary patrons of these buildings — to awe and impress the masses. This is incongruous today. Although it is inevitable for architects who admire these great monumental buildings of Europe to strive for the quality most evident in them — grandeur, the elements of mysticism and power, basic to cathedrals and palaces, are also incongruous today, because the buildings we build for our times are for a totally different purpose.
Minoru Yamasaki, from Architects on Architecture: New Directions in America by Paul Heyer
After reading this (only an online snippet, so no further context), I have more questions than answers: What’s the “totally different purpose” he saw for today’s buildings? How did he justify the monumentality of the WTC if he believed in what he said? Since apparently he was an admirer of Islamic architecture, did he think it was somehow less “strong” than the European model? I’ve ordered the book, so I’m hoping to be able to answer some of these soon.