It occurs to me that making a modern building, and keeping it modern years later, are two different challenges. I doubt that many architects intended to make dated buildings in 1987, or 1974, or 1963. Yet even the untrained eye can often discern buildings built in the last 3 years from those built 13 years ago. I would assume that home buyers and renters are willing to pay a premium for modernity. But why? Are modern buildings intrinsically better? In some cases, yes, but I suspect the differences are largely aesthetic. Granite countertops vs. Formica. Hard wood floors vs. wall to wall carpet. There must have been a time when wall to wall carpeting was the pinnacle of modernity. The aesthetics of modernity do not appear linked to any objective standards and change in much the same way as clothing fashions.
On a side note, have you watched Ally McBeal lately? I didn’t watch the show much when it was on the air, but the few times I watched, it certainly felt new and fresh. But 1997 is a long time ago, and no matter how forward thinking that show tried to be, it can’t be modern 14 years later (I place it squarely in the camp of pre-9/11 American entertainment, which feels joyfully naive, but also woefully self-involved). What is the dead-giveaway? Two, maybe three things: 1) The show’s relentless soundtrack by Vonda Shepard is very 1990’s, in a Paula Cole/Sarah McLachlan kind of way, 2) In a few episodes, Brooke Burns, who plays the hot girl from the mail room, is wearing stone washed jeans, and 3) the men’s neck ties – you’ll have to see for yourself , but apparently patterned ties were very popular in the mid/late 90s.
As someone fresh from 2 days of apartment hunting, I reflect on what made me favor one apartment over another. Much of it was objective: location, windows/light, size, price. But a very large variable was whether the apartment was “modern”. My top choice was very modern, but it also has an amazing view…which I bet will never go out of style.