If I can be the contrary voice (oh I can!) I think architecture critics need to sit down and shut up for a while and this guy is no exception.
"where the miasma of the mud flats on which the Southern Pacific built its main West Coast train yards has turned into block upon block of indistinguishable barracks for the technorati, punctuated by the closed compounds of research buildings and laboratories."
Where were your lousy opinions when they were building ugly short houses across California?
even though those dense structures were so unattractive to most people, rich
and poor, that they fled to the suburbs as quickly as they could.
That's not what happened, unless you erase the financing and red lining aspects.
when the street is a six-lane corridor of cars and perhaps noisy trams, we should not force people to live next to that noise.
This is meaningless. The decibel level of a 6 lane corridor has the travel distance of close to half a mile in cold dry air. Instead, when the residential buildings come, the street should change.
Architecture should read this instead http://rationalurbanism.com/4%c2%a2-on-the/
and fix themselves. Important takeaway:
"buildings have actual functions to perform; like staying up, keeping out water, and telling people where the entrances are. The inability to perform those functions even marginally well is a solid indicator that they are not the equals of those they came before."
Or just shut up with the criticism that only has one priority- looks from afar.
Yeah, they are kind of ugly, but if they are "barracks for the technorati" (which doesn't even make sense- the 'technorati' are not an oppressed class and are able to make purchasing decisions based on superficial looks if they choose to do so) but so is everything else architects have built in the past 50 years. Except everything they have built in the past 50 years is expensive to maintain and not very useful.
So these pancake buildings are better in that aspect.