Ether 14 Form and Function

Like Guild House, One Wilshire is simply a neutral shell lacking any aesthetic gestures. There is no reason to think that Bunshaft wouldn’t have called One Wilshire “ugly and ordinary” as well. It was constructed at almost the same time as Guild House and shares many of its features. It too is a decorated shed and has its own second-rate sign. Banal modernist lettering across its façade announces “One Wilshire” to the rest of the city.

Although the antennas at One Wilshire originally had a purpose, they are now just as superfluous as the ornament once crowning Guild House, empty symbols of a retired modern technology. But One Wilshire goes a step further than the decorated shed: its signage is obsolete from the start so it will never need to be removed. The building’s real address is actually not One Wilshire, but 624 South Grand. An unbridgeable gap between signifier and signified, between form and function opens up at One Wilshire.

The fact that this architecturally meritless structure is also the most valuable real estate in North America only confirms that the role of the building as a producer of effect or meaning is obsolete.