The Legacy of Prickly Mountain

Built as an antiestablishment utopia in the mid 1960s, Vermont enclave Prickly Mountain has had a profound influence on contemporary architecture

I’ve always loved the kind of novels that offer an alternative view of the present, where the plot is predicated on one key event in history playing out differently. For instance, there’s Kingsley Amis’s The Alteration, set in England nearly five centuries after the Protestant Reformation didn’t take place. The Catholic Church is unchallenged in its authority, and castrati still sing in the choir. Similarly when Czech Cubism, the surreal cousin to Modernism, emerged after the disintegration of the Iron Curtain, I tried to imagine what the world would be like today if, instead of the rectilinear approach associated with the Bauhaus, an architecture based on triangles and crystalline forms became the norm. Imagine Park Avenue lined with buildings that look like…well, like Norman Foster’s new Hearst headquarters.

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