Anyone who has been to Chicago or seen the Windy City's skyline may have noticed a shorter building with an angled top resembling a diamond. This building is known officially as the Smurfit-Stone building, but some Chicago natives have nicknames for it such as the Y building, the vagina building, and diamond building. Much controversy exists about whether this building was designed to be a feminine contrast to the male dominance seen throughout the rest of the Chicago skyline; was it meant to look like a vagina? The architects, Epstein and Stone, maintain a position that was not the original intent, but instead it was meant to be an eco-friendly building.
The intent is not the big issue. This is an example of Tuana's theory of the epistimology of ignorance. Instead of relating to science, it is now being related to architecture. Having spent time in Chicago, many people I spoke with ignored the femininity of the building. They remembered once hearing about the idea of a gendered building, but had disregarded and ignored it. In a way many of the Chicago natives I spoke with had unlearned what this building could possibly symbolize. To quote Tuana on page 195 of Coming to Understand: Orgasm and the Epistemology of Ignorance, " An important aspect of an epistemology of ignorance is the realization that ignorance should not be theorized as a simple omission or gab but is, in many cases, an active production. Ignorance is frequently constructed and actively preserved, and is linked to issues of cognitive authority, doubt, trust, silencing, and uncertainty." She is relating this to the unlearning of female orgasm and anatomy, but it can also relate to the Smurfit-Stone building. Whether it was intended to represent female genitalia or not, the juxtaposition of the building's shape against the Chicago skyline does bring an idea to mind.
Can a building have a gender and if so, what does this say about society as a whole? Are Chicagoans truly falling into the trap of ignorance or is it not that big of a deal?