Where has all the good stuff gone?

More to the point: why don’t they make things as well and with as much craftsmanship as they used to?  Every now and then the benefits of mass production (and marketing) seem to have lost some essence of class or soul in the design of things.

Two – completely random – points that struck me recently.  First, there’s our house.  Built in 1940, it may not be the most coherent of design (especially with the grandmother’s wallpaper from the 1960’s), but it definitely has style.  It’s also incredibly solidly built: although it has the original windows (with the lead weights), it’s not drafty at all.  In fact, of all the windows in the house, only one lead weight was broken, and every single window still opens nicely.  While most new houses are smooth and finely finished on the surface, they sure don’t feel as solid as our house does.

Second, something completely small that kind of bothers me out of all proportion.  On my commute home many evenings I pass by Harvard’s Engineering Sciences building.

Engineering Sciences Building, designed by Minoru Yamasaki, the architect of the World Trade Center.

The building itself is striking – much more so in person.  But what really got me was the door.  The original door was a marvel of engineering itself: double doors made of machined brass in alternating rows of angled panels.  It was unique, and very intricate – something that would inspire engineers in design thought.

Just a couple of months ago, the doors were gone.  Replaced during a recent interior office renovation with a pair of plain boring glass doors with no style or soul at all.  Why the heck did they do that?  Since I’ve hung out in that area of HSq for years, it was very jarring to see the beautiful set of doors missing one day as I drove by.

It just seems that the majority of items built today just don’t have the same thought and care put into their design.  I suppose that makes sense in the larger scale, but sometimes it’s a bit disappointing.