In the early 1930s, the Pennsylvania Railroad hired the famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy to restyle its exceedingly ugly electric locomotives. True to form, the Parisian-born Loewy came up with the GG-1, a stunningly fluid design sheathed in streamlined steel. The railroad gamely built a prototype, stitching it together with thousands of rivets in the usual manner of the time. When Loewy was first presented this real-life embodiment of his concept, he demanded in his strong French accent: "What are all those buttons?" There's a lesson here for people designing buildings as well: Even a great design can be done in by the sort of unavoidable, nuts-and-bolts infrastructure items every building requires -- visible pipes, wires, vents, flues, meters and what have you. As unsexy as they ...
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