If you haven't noticed, Seattle is a giant construction zone at the moment. It's been a giant construction zone for a couple of years now. As monuments commercial, cultural, and civic rise into the sky, the tenor of the public conversation about new construction has gone straight into the shitter. I've been harping about the terrible quality of architectural writing to be found in The Seattle Times and Post-Intelligencer regularly, but last week I saw a new low.

The offender: D. Parvaz, whose lead story on the Experience Music Project in the Lifestyle section of the September 14 P-I was littered with the kind of faulty reasoning normally heard by our trashier conspiracy theorists. Headlined ³An Ear for Music? Listen Up: Two Local Experts Think New Museum Resembles Inner Ear,² the story stems from the observation of a kinda loopy-sounding ³retired professor of anatomy² named Bryce Munger, who claims, without any apparent knowledge of the duo, that EMP founder Paul Allen and architect Frank Gehry ³have put their heads together to have the organ of hearing represented as the shell of their building.²

The publicly acknowledged inspiration for the museum -- a smashed-up guitar -- gets short shrift from Parvaz, who follows Munger around the edges of the construction site as the professor provides such analytical gems as the fact that the ³inner ear has Þve different organs for balance and one for hearing. The EMP has six chambers.² Paige Prill of EMP, dutifully called for comment, simply replies ³No.² Altogether, a shoddy, silly article.

What makes this all so depressing is that there's so much to write about the museum, which is shaping up as possibly the worst building of Frank Gehry's career, and whose misguidedly high-proÞle site -- in the shadow of Seattle's Þnest structure, the Space Needle -- will make it impossible to ignore. For the love of Mies van der Rohe, would somebody hire a real architecture critic around here!?

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Meanwhile, the owners of the Space Needle are demolishing its ground level entryway and shops to build ³a glassed-in, two-story pavilion [which] will spiral around the tower's legs,² according to an uncritical article in the Times. I realize the Needle is privately owned, and thus subject to the whims of its owners, but shouldn't its original architecture be protected as a national historic landmark? Was everybody too embarrassed of its Jetsons look to recognize it as the second-Þnest monument in America (after the Gateway Arch), and stand up to preserve it? Most shockingly, this happened in a total vacuum. Why did no story on the remodel appear until the demolition had already started?

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Theatre Puget Sound board president Leslie Swackhamer disputed a statement attributed to her in this column two weeks ago. According to two people present at TPS' last board meeting, Swackhamer remarked to members of the Artery theater coop that the city might want TPS to administer the Bathhouse Theatre-the space which Artery has been campaigning to take over for months. Swackhamer denies being familiar with the city's thinking, and says that not competing with its members is a core value of TPS, and thus the group will not apply to run the Bathhouse. This is exactly what the Artery (and one or two other groups who may yet apply to take over the city-owned space) wanted to hear.

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