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Oldenburg’s Monuments

WITH THE BOOM IN PROPOSALS for public monuments recently, architectural critics continue to view the monument as something suspect. “Spurious and over-simplified; at best hollow; at worst a mockery,” writes Ada Louise Huxtable. And the only major monument project undertaken lately by an architect of reputation, Philip Johnson’s proposed monument to immigration on abandoned Ellis Island, could easily be read as camp. It is planned to consist of a cylindrical building resembling an open, hollowed-out, truncated “column” three hundred feet in diameter and one hundred and thirty feet high with the names of the sixteen million immigrants who had passed engraved upon its walls. Adjacent to this Wall of Sixteen Million, the monument site would also consist of the “stabilized ruins” of the old administration buildings, planted with vines growing over and through the gutted, empty structures. (

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