ARCHITECTS OF IDEAS. SITE WERE POSTMODERN IN THE SEVENTIES AND FIRST PAST THE POST IN THE EIGHTIES. PRE-INTERNET, PRE-INSTAGRAM. AS REAL AS THE REAL WORLD. THEY WERE AN ANACHRONISM
WAITING TO HAPPEN.
SITE specific. The December 1986 SITE extra edition of
Architecture and Urbanism
is a superbook. 136 pages of actualised ideas. There is nothing better. The cover shows the interior of the Laurie Mallet House in New York. A period building dating from 1820, objects and furniture from colonial times have been sand-coated and painted into the walls. In the case of the table and coat hooks, they remain functional. As we said, there is nothing better.
1978. The Ghost Parking Lot of Hamden, Connecticut. Real cars buried under asphalt. Anything is possible in this otherwise ordinary out of town mall.
The Floating McDonald's Restaurant, Berwyn, Illinois. David Bermant, the man who commissioned the Ghost Parking Lot, also owned a major mall outside of Chicago. An art collector as well as an entrepreneur, he challenged McDonald's to do something interesting with their outlet. They chose SITE and the result was genuinely uplifting. McDonald's never took their experiments further. The restaurant still stands now but doesn't float. The walls have been bricked down, as it were. The BEST stores and parking lot are gone too. That's (not) progress for you.
At least the SITE contribution to the World Exposition in Vancouver was not meant to last: it was meant to impress the hell out of everybody that saw it in 1986. It still does that now, if only in photographs. A 200 metre stretch of elevated undulating concrete road to nowhere, crammed with a procession of concrete transport from juggernauts to tricycles. We have added a close up on the sneakers making their way to the blue sky precipice to illustrate most clearly how great SITE were. They were the last of the master builders to direct so much talent and enthusiasm into real world projects. After SITE came the internet and after that apps and after that...
Buy the SITE book. Don't look back.