Tyler Cowen wonders about the relative ugliness of modern buildings and offers five possible explanations. I’ll buy a version of his least favorite:
5. Perhaps contemporary suburban developments will be seen as beautiful by future generations. I’ll bet against this one, but we will see.
The boring parts of suburban developments won’t stand the test of time, literally. They’ll be razed. The parts left behind we be deemed beautiful. For example, in Sunnyvale, California, artless ranch-style homes seem to predominate, though it is hard to miss the occasional Eichler. I gather that both styles were built out in Sunnyvale during roughly the same post-WWII period. I predict that the ranches will disappear at a higher rate.
What we have at work here is an extension of Sturgeon’s Law, which says that ninety percent of everything is crap. If two percent of crap is removed each year while the good stuff has a one percent attrition rate after a few centuries there will be far more good stuff than crap left standing. Numbers for hunch illustration only.