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Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

[OPINION] The disappearance of architectural beauty

Modernization is stripping away the unique identities of communities.
%5BOPINION%5D+The+disappearance+of+architectural+beauty
Lale Baylar

After World War II, the influx of returning veterans and the initiation of veteran-support programs, such as the GI Bill, led to an exponential increase in the demand for housing. In an attempt to increase housing, developers began mass-producing suburbs, prioritizing function over form and abandoning traditional, community-centric architecture in the process.

According to George Ritzer, an American sociologist and professor, there is a reason for this shift. In his book “The McDonaldization of Society,” Ritzer theorized that the four main principles of fast-food chains — efficiency, calculability, predictability and control — are being applied to all aspects of American society. Modern architecture also follows this model because it aims to prioritize function while keeping costs as low as possible, which creates simplicity.

For example, when driving past buildings and houses in Arden Hills, I notice that everything looks similar. Each cookie-cutter home is indistinguishable from the last. In newer cities, office buildings don’t have apparent differences either. Even the local Target became dull in comparison to its previously bright red exterior. 

This style is not just prominent in Arden Hills, but across the U.S., so much so that it is difficult to differentiate a Minnesota suburb from a Nebraska one based on architecture alone. 

Unfortunately, this preference of function over form is spreading to other parts of the world. Last summer, when I went to Turkey, I noticed a difference between older, more traditional houses and newer builds. For example, the roofs of the older buildings have red terracotta tiles because they have great insulation properties and are easily attainable in Turkey. In comparison, newer builds have a smooth, rigid structure and are surrounded by roads. These newer buildings most likely take influence from the U.S. and Europe, and, consequently, they ignore the community’s architectural traditions.

Despite the growing popularity of modern design, traditional architecture is what proves successful over the years. For example, in an area where it rains a lot, houses may have triangular roofs, while areas with sun have white buildings with flat roofs. Additionally, traditional homes are made of materials local to their environment, which is why historical buildings from around the world look different and unique. 

Buildings that have historical significance are also valued by their communities because they contain cultural stories and are sentimental to people. For example, the Izmir Clock Tower in Turkey is a historic site built to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Sultan Abdul Hamid II’s ascension to the throne. This beautiful landmark has historical importance to Turkey, and the people of Izmir would be devastated if it were demolished.

Ensuring access to proper, functional housing should be our main priority, and we shouldn’t build fewer homes just to make a few more beautiful. Even so, we should not ignore the appearance of our architectural surroundings. It’s simply depressing and uncreative when everything looks the same, so it’s not too late to design buildings with architectural beauty.

About the Contributors
Lale Akkin, Staff Reporter
Lale is a sophomore staff reporter, and this year is her first year on The Viewer. Awards: Best of SNO - The teacher shortage crisis
Lale Baylar, Opinions Editor
Hi! My name is Lale, and I'm the Opinions editor and illustrator for the The Viewer 2023-24. I like to draw & paint as well as watch thrillers in my free time. I also enjoy trying new restaurants or baking new recipes at home. I'm in MV's Orchestra, Mustang Mentors and love volunteering at Kinderberry Hills and the Bell Museum. You can reach me by email: [email protected] :)
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