While environmental art should work like this, where one perspective forms an "image",
architecture should work in multiple perspectives, and be "image-less".
I want to separate what I consider "single issue buildings" with "prioritization". Yes, truly, there will always be more important spaces, compared to service spaces, and there will always be building "fronts" and building "backs". Certain design issues will always be more important than others ones. The nuance here, is when "single issue buildings" completely abdicate the responsibility to take care of all the other secondary and tertiary design concerns --- when you consciously object to thinking about anything else, besides the big, spectacular parti. I believe that people always know, when a design is not driven by holistic concerns, or when a design was created through one specific perspectival lens ONLY. Because once you start walking away from the "right corners", the building just looks bad.
Again, I attribute this phenomena to the rise of digital design. Computer-aided design, and their tools, often "flatten" our perception of things. We believe that the images displayed on our machines are the whole reality, although they are merely composed fragments. I think that the past 30 years (in the time since postmodernism) have been an uneasy learning curve, with projects guided by a misunderstanding, or a mis-handling, of computer tools. From parametric blobs to Revit-template cookie-cutter buildings, we have yet to really master these new-fangled tools of the trade, seduced by the computer's promise of speed and virtual reality. For architecture students, sometimes it feels like playing with fire --- we have yet to understand the basics of real space itself, let alone the physics and mechanics of virtual space. And so, with an incomplete spatial understanding, coupled with an incomplete understanding of digital tools, we go out into the world to try to build something great, only to be disappointed by gravity, or the strength of our GPUs...
Like great cities, great buildings are multi-layered, and at each scale of experience they say something new and coherent. Buildings like Le Corbusier's National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, or Zaha Hadid's MAXXI in Rome, achieve this type of wholeness that goes beyond the "single issue", or the "single perspective". You have to really be in the space, to really understand them -- not just look at a perspective photo, or a single diagram. There is flow, rotation, and a clearly defined design intention that also feels open-ended. Creating these masterpieces requires more than a clear photoshop trick, or a nice marketing slogan -- they seem to take experience, vision, intuition, and years and years and years of hard work. And ultimately, I think people will know, and can tell the difference, between "deep" and "shallow" design, between mastery and "single issue" works.
San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, Francesco Borromini, 1644.
Baroque period-defining space,
and actually a very spiritual experience to sit inside.
Yokohama Ferry Terminal, Foreign Office Architects, 2002.
A very non-cynical execution of parametric architecture,
where all the pieces feel fully integrated, and the
spaces are always unexpected and adventurous.