Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hypothetical Development: Rendering the Implausible


We have all seen the signs. They depict bold, soaring new structures soon to arise from desolate sites. Most never happen. Among the more notorious was the shining Buck Rogers facade of the Trump condo tower that eventually vanished like a mirage, as did many others. Some cratered in the real estate crash, but others were pipe dreams from the start, the entrepreneurial equivalents of poetic license. Elaborate exercises in futility, they did however inspire a new civic enterprise, the Hypothetical Development Organization, which takes development to the next level by designing projects that everyone knows in advance will never happen. That eliminates the awful ritual of getting people's hopes up only to have them dashed yet again. Instead, these apocryphal projects serve an uplifting purpose by existing only in the imagination, which is actually all professional real estate developers give us anyway, only their visionary exercises are hopelessly hobbled by having to appeal to financial backers and bean counters without a poetic bone in their bodies. Unfettered by fiscal gravitas, these hypothetical developments exist on the more ethereal level of thought forms that appeal to, or even challenge, our collective urban imagination. So here a ghostly CBD building becomes a glossy, mirror glass-clad “Museum of The Self,” bottom, where a familiar sculptural “thumbs up” icon on the facade inspires passing Facebook users to instantly “like” what they see. A theatrical facade on lower Magazine serves as a “Loitering Center” in counterpoint to all those “no loitering” zones about town.

There is even a “Theater of Escape,” top, offering to transport travelers to imaginary realms via certifiably nonexistent technologies. Such services aren't cheap, but consumers can cash in their karma at “Karmalot,” above, which looks like a futuristic storefront from hell. Unlike most ordinary buildings, hypothetical developments arise from the inner landscape of those poets and dreamers who meander aimlessly on foot or bicycle, or gaze sagely through the windows of streetcars at structures only they can see. ~Bookhardt 

HYPOTHETICAL DEVELOPMENTS: Renderings of Improbable Architecture, Through May 7
Du Mois Gallery, 4921 Freret St., 818-6032;