Walk north on Washington Street through downtown and you’ll notice the stately Paulsen Center on your left, its elegantly stepped massing, its subtle embellishments and patterns, its human scale in form and materiality at the sidewalk that then soars upward. It exudes a kind of playfulness, a gracefulness.
On your right is the nearly completed Grand Hotel Spokane. You’ll notice its ferociously banal facades, with no consideration of light and shadow; its almost menacingly blatant disregard for color, proportion and pattern; its ham-handed, lifeless shapes. There is no mystery, no magic in its geometry. It’s quite repellent to grandeur, in fact.
Why does it matter? Soul. Good buildings should express life. They should draw upon timeless principles that reveal the particular truths and eccentricities of a place and its people. This place. Spokane. The Grand Hotel, in the context of our city, is utterly meaningless. It expresses a “therelessness” that is seemingly the hallmark of Walt Worthy’s endeavors.
What does it say about us? That we’re boring. Provincial. That we don’t know good architecture and don’t deserve it anyhow.
Where spirit should triumph, practicality reigns. Where it should radiate wonder, it screams mediocrity. What a missed opportunity. Spokane deserves better.