James Lileks
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According to a new survey, U.S. Bank Stadium is the seventh ugliest building in the country and the 12th ugliest in the world. Well, that's wrong. There are 12 buildings in the Twin Cities uglier than U.S. Bank Stadium — also, the stadium is not ugly.

"That's a matter of opinion," you say. True. It is also the correct opinion. Sometimes opinions are wrong. The State Capitol, for example, is better than Rarig Center on the U campus, which looks like the citadel from which the alien conquerors administrate the West Bank. (The East Bank is run out of the Weisman Museum.) At least with the Capitol you know what it is by looking at it. You have freshmen at the U looking at that brutalist jumble and thinking, "What is my Rarig, and how do I get it centered?"

Some people like the classic style of a football arena, such as the U's Huntington Bank Stadium. It's hardly an innovative design, and that's fine. People like traditional designs, because they sum up the past and bear it forward. The pennants snapping in the crisp breeze, the band blaring Ski-U-Mah, the gold wan autumn light that casts our minds back to our own youth! Sounds great, right?

"Nah, I'd rather see the game in a transgressive design that subverts our expectations of the stadium paradigm."

Uh — what do you mean by that?

"Something that makes a playful comment on the traditional design! Like, it's upside down or something."

No one wants that in a college stadium. Pro, that's different. U.S. Bank Stadium is unique, and challenging. Unlike most of the puffy designs of the '80s — the concrete soufflé, the marshmallow-topped bland dish — it's angular and assertive. Is that the prow of a ship? A jagged iceberg? Glued-together shards of plate glass painted black? Yes and no. It's an unusual design that's instantly recognizable.

That doesn't mean it's good. But in order to be "ugly" it must have no redeeming angles. The front, with its massive glass wall, is a glorious stage for a fascinating play that lasts 18 weeks, and maybe gets held over for another performance. Or a hangar for a big plane that never makes it all the way, but you don't mind because you enjoyed the trip. (Note to Packers fans: Those are called "metaphors.")

It's a daring, audacious design, and if you think it's one of the 10 ugliest buildings in the nation, worse than a boarded-up fast-food joint or a boring slit-window office tower that looks like a mausoleum for accountants, I can't help you. I can just say you're wrong.

The methodology of the survey seems a bit thin. "The list-makers used an AI algorithm from HuggingFace to extract the sentiment from tweets about building design, and then ranked the buildings based on the percentage of tweets that were negative."

For starters, "HuggingFace" sounds like the thing that came out of the eggs in the "Alien" movie. And tweets, we must repeat, are not the real world. It's like reading a survey that says "99.9% of Americans are mad at pigeons" and the methodology consisted of "listening to people in the park who discovered a white blotch on their shoulders."

The number of people who are on Twitter, and actually tweet, and actually tweet something opinionated, is tiny — but yet it drives the news because the people who write up the news spend too much time on Twitter and think it's the World.

Now, if this were a scientific study using door-to-door interviews, targeted mail, phone polls that reached to landlines and cellphones, and the verdict was ugly, that would be different.

It would still be wrong, but it would be different.