Why Doesn't Experience Music Project Have a Nickname?

In a list of the 10 Biggest Design Failures of the Past 25 Years, The Infrastructurist pegged Paul Allen's Experience Music Project as the fourth-worst offender. Saying that "locals" like to call the $100 million dollar Frank Gehry fever-dream "the hemorrhoids." Wait, we do?

In my short time in Seattle, no one I've talked to has ever referred to the Seattle Center monstrosity as anything other than its acronym, let alone as "the hemorrhoids." Further reconnaissance indicates that it's one of 20 or so nicknames that have thus far failed to stick to the building's slippery steel exterior.

So what gives? Why doesn't Experience Music Project have a nickname?

experience music project.jpg
You silly, beautiful mess.
Well the first, and most likely, explanation is that nicknames are a sign of affection. Just because you call a guy friend "Firecrotch" doesn't mean you don't like him or his fiery pubes. In fact, it means just the opposite: that you care enough to come up with a devastating put-down you can employ at opportune times, like when you're introducing him to a good-looking girl.

In that regard, it's understandable why EMP hasn't received its own lovable pet name: because there are very few people who love it.

It's a schizophrenic combination of a rock and science fiction museum. And unlike the famous Blob, the Flintstones-style Mexican restaurant that used to sit at the bottom of Queen Anne, it doesn't look like just one thing. Which actually may be its biggest strength.

Because if it can't have a nickname, at least EMP inspires some creative description. Personally, I think it resembles what the operating table would have looked like after an autopsy of the Six Million Dollar Man. But everyone has their own way of putting its weirdness into words.

The Seattle Times' Ron Judd once referred to EMP as looking like "the wreck of the Partridge Family bus." New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp described it as "something that crawled out of the sea, rolled over, and died." And I've heard tale of locals who refer to it as "Queensryche's cock."

OK. By locals I meant "Mike Seely." But you get the point. What EMP loses in its unnicknameability, it gains in the sometimes juvenile ways in which it's described. Unlike the building itself, that seems like a winning combination.

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