Before my untimely departure from Japan, I had the chance to visit Yokohama and see the lauded Port Terminal by FOA. Hammered into me from the first days of architecture school as the pinnacle of single surface design and adopted and cited by almost all of my classmates and professors alike through case study homages and project references, my response to the Port Authority has always been one of....well let's say suspicion. With Sylvia Lavin (uh oh, I hope I don't get in trouble!) waxing poetic about image and readability and what a genius Alejandro Zaera-Polo is, I continually failed to see what all the fuss was about. Now after having visited the project, with my suspicions affirmed, I am left with a series of questions:
Has any one ever actually visited this place?
Does this really look like a Hokusai wave to you?
(Don't you see more of sleepy sting ray?)
Who was in charge of this detailing?
And have we really reached the point where we have to grasp for gratuitous
design moves to maintain interest?
(or does this crooked water fountain add to the greater composition?)
While there are a few interesting moments within the project
The overall design feels quite awkward
and many of the spaces and details defy proper use and integration by the public
Flags and bulletin boards?! Yes, such is the harsh reality of the icon.
On another note...
directly across from the Port Terminal is a very amusing building
that looks like an orange slice:
And on the drive back to Tokyo
make sure to check out this very Soviet looking factory.