SITE (James Wines)

Indeterminate Façade, BEST, Houston, Texas, 1975

Indeterminate Façade in Houston, Texas, the second store in the series built between 1971 and 1984 for the BEST Products Company, seems to be caught in a state somewhere between construction and demolition. The cascade of bricks tumbling from the wall invades the public space of the street, giving the architecture a transient look. People passing by find themselves drawn into a physical as well as psychological encounter with the building, one engendered by the past (building in ruins) and the future (construction underway). In the stores Wines designs for BEST, the “building has only undergone a very slight physical change, but a very powerful psychological one,” Wines explains. This willful ambiguity evokes the theories of Charles Jencks, or those of Robert Venturi and his concept of the decorated shed, for example, in which the façade is separated from the house, as is the case with the BEST stores. Wines also introduces the concepts of dissociation and fragmentation in his architecture. Influenced by Carl Jung’s texts on the logic of the dream, Wines calls upon the irrational and equivocal. He turns architecture into a “means for architectural criticism,” drawing on imagery from advertising, sitcoms, rock music, junk culture, reflecting the heterogeneous nature of the context itself. “The context is the content,” Wines writes, presenting his building for BEST as the “the first architectural equivalent of an assisted ready-made, a ‘composed’ work of art (and only indeterminate from an iconographic point of view) which relies on a more than formal linguistic interpretation of architecture.” For him, “inclusion, inversion, indeterminacy and happenstance” are the principles underlying works of art, buildings or public works.

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