THE CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL CENTER LOOKS LIKE A DAMN HOUSE TRAILER -- PERIOD

Furthermore, you'll never convince me that the resemblance is unintentional or subjective. The New York architecture firm that designed this big silver cracker tin and the New York landscape architecture firm that designed the grounds (or should I say "yard") have built a giant representation of a trailer park on the eastern edge of the Little Rock skyline. The best part about the landscaping is that there is no unobstructed view of the library.

On their websites, these New Yorkers say the building represents Clinton's "bridge to the twenty-first century."

Baloney.

It took me about thirty minutes to find a house trailer that matched the Clinton Presidential Center this closely. It would have been a greater challenge to find a house trailer that didn't resemble it. Show me one bridge anywhere on earth that's a closer match than this house trailer. Note the proportions, the location of the high point in the roof, the shape and placement of the windows. Note that both buildings are held above the ground by cement pylons. These New Yorkers are rubbing our noses in it and they're getting away with it by telling us a huge fib that this is supposed to be a gd bridge when in fact it's a gd insult. I'll bet if you look around you'll be able to find on the grounds somewhere an architectural representation of a pit bull's turd in the yard.

The part that really bugs me is that these designers are part of Senator Hillary Clinton's present political constituency. Do you think that had anything to do with the selection of the design? Probably not. Everybody knows Mrs. Clinton just adores Arkansas and would love to have had one of our local design firms come up with something quiet and dignified, if more mundane than a GIANT FRIGGIN' TRAILER PARK THAT CAN BE SEEN FROM SPACE. I know that projects like this are distributed in such a way as to gain the goodwill of those who can benefit the guy handing out the projects. That doesn't surprise anybody. Politicians promote people who can help them and they don't promote people they don't need any more. That's thoroughly expected. The insult is a bit much, though, and papering over the insult with all that horseshit artspeak phoney New York doubletalk is just more insult.

New York, we know you've crapped on us. You've gotten away with it. You've scored another one. You might as well fess up and take the credit for the century's grandest fraternity prank.

If you want to put Arkansas down, there are plenty of unpleasant truths you could bring up, just as you could with any state. We really don't deserve this, though. Every Arkansan that contributed money to this monstrosity should feel cheated. Haven't we figured out the game yet? "Don't give money to New Yorkers even if they promise it's going to be spent in Arkansas." Right? Look how they spend it. On comedy for themselves. And Mr. Clinton, didn't they show you a picture of the thing ahead of time? Come on, you're not stupid. Have the New York politicos got their hooks so far into you that you'll put up with this for the sake of your wife's career? Look what they made you do! Where's your judgement? Where's your backbone? What have they got on you? Are your true friends the New Yorkers who designed your legacy to look like a house trailer or are your true friends the people of Little Rock, who saved your presidency when Ken Starr came down to play hardball?

Nobody's going to do anything about it, though. The Clinton Library is a big tourist draw, and while we can pretend to have dignity we can't pretend to have money. The movers and shakers have made that trade on our behalf -- dignity for money.

Well, somebody had to say it. Glad I got that off my chest. Happier story next month.

RTJ--9/8/2006

UPDATE

An Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article by Kyle Brazzel from August of 2004, just three months before the opening of the Clinton Library, noted the construction of this. It's the Unilever Best Foods office building in Rotterdam, Netherlands. This building was designed by JHK Architects of Utrecht in response to a design contest by Unilever. It's built to resemble a nearby bridge. Like the Clinton Library, it's a rectangular truss of steel beams encased in glass and suspended on pylons and perpendicular to a river. Both buildings also have a pillbox pentouse on top and an entryway underneath the building at the midpoint. The resemblances shared by these two buildings designed and built simultaneously on opposite sides of the world by two different architects must represent one of the most thorough coincidences in the history of architecture.

I can say the Unilever building also looks like a house trailer, but it also looks like span of the bridge whose form it copied. The Clinton Library doesn't look like any nearby bridges, but it sure does look like this building, which looks like a bridge span. In Holland.

So if Polshek and partners borrowed their design concept from JHK Architects bridgeform office building, that means they likely didn't intend the Clinton Library to look like a house trailer. Although they did add panel sheathing, which covers the metal beams, helps to conceal the full extent of the structural resemblance and creates the house trailer look. Looking at all three pictures side-by-side I'd have to say the Clinton Library looks like a combination of the Unilever building and a house trailer.

Know what? House trailer.

RTJ--7/18/2007


Arkansas Travelogue home page