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Why The Asshat? Question Stumps The Experts

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Yes, the Asshat is spreading faster than an STD through a Roosevelt Hotel pool party. Taking a look at so many new developments in LA that feature the crapitectural flourish of the asshat (see: 5600 Wilshire, 7950 Sunset, The Plaza at Arboretum), a reader asks: "How come the Asshat is such a prominent feature of so many new buildings? Are there any architectural students or experts out there who care to explain the emergence of this atrocious technique?" Well, we stumped a couple of architects and even a critic or two, but did find one brave soul willing to explain the Asshat.

Yes, leave it to the theorists at SCI-Arc to examine the ideological underpinnings of the most vexing architectural motif spreading across the Southland. We asked Juan Azulay of Matter Management and a professor at SCI-Arc WTF is up with all the asshats? His response:

Speculative theories for the asshat.

1. The asshat is a product of the worst of compromises. It is the marriage of that eclectic formalism that comes from no classical age but our interpretation of the classical age, by those who have never seen what it looks like in a history book or been to Europe; a zoning height restriction (maximize height – thus cut the equally atrocious "turret" off) OR a building vernacular without attics.

2. On a slightly more credible note, it is a third rate version of [architects] Charles Moore's and Charles Jencks postmodern vocabulary – as heinous as Jencks' pool in the shape of the State of California.

3. Or the most cynical – but favorite – version, it could be one of the ultimate forms of self-loathing (even racism for the racially paranoid). The street corner was the symptom of urban vitality. As such, the postmoderns made it disappear (which casts a doubt on the previous answer) – and the early modernists and classicists embraced it. In L.A. the only people that still thrive in the corners are the members of the Angelino Mexican community. So the asshat could very well be a form of FUCK YOU, or at best condescension. The other option is that self-hatred rules the move – and we must be forever reminded of how much we pay to live in the misery that we have imagined.

4. A fourth one – and I don't know much about this, could be the inheritance of the western town. But the only ones we have left are in the studio backlots.