I regularly get announcements from architects’ publicists announcing new buildings. Sometimes the proposed design is part of the announcement, sometimes it is merely the appointment of the architect that is considered “news.” But is it? If (insert your favorite architect here) has won a commission, well, good for them, but most of us are really only interested when a building is actually built, not in the pretty pictures. Robert Hughes once wrote that slides are to real art as phone sex is to real sex. Computer-generated drawings are like that, too. Having said that, it is true that some unbuilt projects have been influential in the history of architecture. Just think of Le Corbusier’s Palace of the Soviets, or Wright’s Mile-High skyscraper. And they didn’t even have a good publicist.

Palace of the Soviets, 1931.

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