Does Form Follow Function at the Clinton Library?

On page B1 of the Jan. 22 New York Times, there’s a photograph of James Stewart Polshek’s model for Bill Clinton’s presidential library in Little Rock, which was unveiled in December. (Polshek is best known as the architect of the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History in New York–the famous big white sphere in a glass cube.) As Polshek himself describes his design for the Clinton library in the story (alas, the online version doesn’t carry the photo, but the Clinton Presidential Center offers these drawings), “It is a box sitting 40 feet up in the air.” Actually, Chatterbox would call it a long rectangular shaft sitting 40 feet up in the air, cantilevering over the Arkansas River. It looks a little bit like a bridge (or rather, since it doesn’t reach all the way across the river, a bridge under construction), and Polshek told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that it’s meant to evoke Clinton’s pledge to “build a bridge to the 21st century.” But it also looks a little bit like … how to put this? Let’s just say Chatterbox examined the photograph at some length to see whether the façade bore any distinguishing characteristics. Maybe eight years of covering Bill Clinton’s Washington has left Chatterbox’s mind permanently in the gutter, or maybe Polshek’s having a little joke at his client’s expense. In any event, Clinton has pronounced himself thrilled with the design.