Thursday, May 21, 2009

Architecture of Authority

A California prison's communal room is among Richard Ross's empty spaces. (By Richard Ross)

We have posted on this amazing book, "Architecture of Authority," by Richard Ross, last year. It is a sometimes shocking book. It provides images of spaces most of us would never see. Also, Ross questions the complicity of architects in designing some of these "dehumanizing" environments. Pictured are institutional spaces, interrogation rooms, holding cells and isolation booths , as well as high schools, DMV waiting rooms, hospitals. The breadth of images provides a compelling insight into how we "warehouse" people who must be controlled.

The reason we are posting about this book again is that an exhibition of 44 of these large format images from the book are on display at the National Building Museum in DC. Ross's images are "captured with a spare geometric beauty that is as compelling as it is disturbing," says the Washington Post architectural critic, Phillip Kennicott, in his vivid, challenging and excellent review of the images in this exhibition.

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