What is worth preserving? – Carlos Mo Wu

In “Save the Whitney”, Michael Sorkin states his main concern about the Whitney Museum and its renovation. Sorkin is truly bothered by Michael Graves’ addition to the museum and how it affected the so called “masterpiece”. According to Sorkin, Graves’ addition erased the asymmetry of the building which disoriented the real intention of Marcel Breuer (architect of Whitney Museum). Sorkin’s anger towards the renovation of the building was indescribable. In fact, he states that we should not blame Grave but the society.

In chapter 3, the main question “what is worth preserving” is strongly related to activist criticism. That’s because of the decision that societies make based on a critique, a building can be saved or demolished. According to Alois Riegl, there are five values that we should consider before demolishing a piece of architecture. These are historical, artistic, age, use, and newness values. “Save the Whitney” is also discussed in this chapter to emphasize the perspective of architect like Sorkin on what should be preserved. Even though it is clear that Sorkin was the biggest opposition to the addition of Whitney Museum, he was amazed by how the “façade” flows through the building. Finally, what’s worth preserving? I believe buildings and places that have symbolic meanings and historical backgrounds should be preserved. They are the places where important event took place such as the Ground Zero, a monument designed to respect the death of innocent people.

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