Design: Echoes of The Past, Visions for the Present

From skyscrapers to bed linens, the year's finest work refines and adapts tradition

Are abstraction and severity coming back? Is postmodernism on the wane? Both and neither. Postmodern quotations of the past have become such an accomplished fact in design that facile bits of pseudo antiquity -- a Corinthian capital here, a granite sheathing there -- no longer seem inherently interesting or worthy. Designers must now do more. Of the best work of 1987, the echoes of the past are confident and highly refined, accommodated to idiosyncratic, richly imagined personal visions or the particular circumstances of a project.

Architect Cesar Pelli's firm is among two or three producing consistently fine, thoughtful skyscrapers. The latest...

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