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The world of classical art Essay

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In a city known for artifice and family-friendly pleasure seeking, it seems to make sense that the world of classical art would collide with the world of the strangely fantastic.  While there are some that claim buildings such as the ones in Las Vegas, with its full-size replicas of pyramids and Venetian waterways, are devoid of artistic value or significance.  To a large degree, this perception is true, for there is little artistic value in simply copying the work of another for mass marketing purposes.  However, the building that houses Wonderworks in Orlando, Florida is far more than a mass marketed copy.  It is an original structure used to pique interest in science, and its building surely reflects its function.Walking down the tourist strip in Orlando is always an interesting thing to do, to see all the shops, restaurants, and various other attractions designed to pull the eye and the money of entertainment seekers.  While many think that Orlando is nothing but an ode to Disney, the strip on International Drive is touristy, but largely free of the Disney magic.  However, there is a little magic on the strip, and it was on a trip down this stretch of artificial structures that I saw the most original structure of all in the form of the building created as the educational/recreational playground known as Wonderworks.Amongst the many other cookie-cutter tourist traps on the strip, Wonderworks sticks out like a sore, but highly interesting, thumb.  It is not meant to harmonize with its surroundings at all, but rather seeks to call attention to itself and the types of things that go on inside its walls.  The structure itself is situated right along the road, a multistory plantation-style white building, complete with four columns in the front and large arched windows.  It looks similar to the White House, and its tight symmetry suggests a heavy neoclassical influence.  A few special touches are the few palm trees positioned in the front and along the sides that give it a tropical feel so indicative of its Florida home, with all eyes drawn to the top of the building, which also just so happens to be its bottom.The building for Wonderworks is made to look like a giant colonial mansion dropped at a canted angle on top of a smaller, one-story brick warehouse from the 1930s.  The entrance to the main building is ground level, and cut into the top of the upside-down building.  Artistic embellishments such as cracks in the columns and the face of the building, along with a few feet of foundation at the top of the building make it seem as if it were just uprooted and slammed down.  The palm trees hang from this upside-down foundation, as well as lampposts near the upside-down door.  Real palm trees and manicured grass surround the entire structure, which faces one corner of the intersection, while the warehouse faces the other.  The fact that it is a perfectly normal-looking building that may be nothing more than a striking, old mansion on the strip is completely turned on its head, just like the building.  The result is something similar to the wonder that its name suggests, and the fact that it is so different is part of its disharmonious appeal.The nature of the Wonderworks building, as well as its location in the middle of tourist heaven, suggests that it was designed most likely by an anonymous designer working for a large firm sometime in the past few decades.  As there are a few other Wonderworks buildings scattered across the country, the design suggests that its form was consciously designed to echo the many scientific and interesting things that happened within its walls.  It is an example of form perfectly matching function, and makes the view question not only the creativity and architectural science that went into it, but also the line between art and homogenized culture.  Indeed, Wonderworks can be argued to be art or lowbrow entertainment, but the nature of what it tries to accomplish can only be respected in its ideals, and therefore the building itself becomes far more credible and charming than any of the buildings by Vegas or Disney, as impressive as both locales are.Inside the Wonderworks building, there are many things, scientific and entertaining, that kids and adults will find interesting and educational.  The interior of the main building is also upside-down, and adds to the overall feeling of eccentricity and whimsy.  There are exhibits inside that allow a person to make giant bubbles, lay on a bed of nails, wear an astronaut suit, and scores of other interesting activities.  The unusual design of the building compliments perfectly its unique position the most offbeat attraction on the tourist strip, as well as the strange information it provides through its exhibits, like the number of teeth a mosquito has.  Though the building for Wonderworks was built in 1998, it recalls the classical style, and then turns it upside-down in a post-modern way.  The fictional story behind the building is that it was once a top-secret lab from the Bermuda Triangle brought by a tornado to its final spot on top of the brick building.  While the story may be fictional, the impact the building has on those who see it is very real.Seeing the upside-down building immediately makes people feel happy when they see it, young and old, and it is difficult not to try to figure out exactly how they built it.  Because the attraction is in the middle of the touristiest part of Orlando, Florida, it is surrounded by a plethora of other attractions, including the many famous amusement parks only short drives down the highway.  However, the building for Wonderworks provides an experience that makes it one of the hidden gems of the area.  It is hard to visit Wonderworks and not come out feeling gratified that the day was spent exploring its interesting exhibits and architecture.Not only does the building inside and out echo its true purpose, but the nature of the building itself echoes its location in the middle of a city known for artifice, special effects, and entertainment.  But, still, Wonderworks manages to become something far more than another amusement for tourists, almost in the way a poem takes on different meanings to different readers.  Some may see it as an amusement park, a fake building, a mass-produced symbol of homogenized entertainment, while some may see it as an allegorical about American society.  And, even still, some may just see it as an interesting place to visit.

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