Architects at their worst? (View).The huge crowd that wound its way round the block on the opening night of the exhibition of design proposals for 'A New World Trade Center' at the Max Protetch Gallery is evidence of the immediate and urgent craving experienced by so many New Yorkers for ideas about what should be done to repair the colossal damage done to their beloved city on that perfect September morning.
Max Protetch, who holds a personal position as gallery proprietor in New York's architectural scene that has no exact parallel in London, had written on 26 September, just two weeks after the attack, when the whole world was still in a state of shock, to about 90 'established and influential' architects offering them 'an opportunity to show an expanded public the ways in which architects can transform the world'. Perhaps only in New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of would such an offer be accompanied by the proprietorial request for a 'suggested asking price' for the drawings displayed. Needless to say a good number of architects responded.
Meanwhile a serious debate had begun in the city about what could or should be done on Ground Zero. The Institute for Urban Design has produced a 'compendium of initial ideas' for the reintegration reintegration /re·in·te·gra·tion/ (-in-te-gra´shun)
1. biological integration after a state of disruption.
2. restoration of harmonious mental function after disintegration of the personality in mental illness. of the empty site with the huge and intricate fabric of the surrounding metropolis. The thoughtfully written introduction to that exhibition draws attention to 'a common desire to recreate, redevelop, and rebuild the landscape of Lower Manhattan', that had been dominated for 30 years by the 110-storey Twin Towers, an urban phenomenon that had become an icon for tourists without inspiring any equivalent local affection (Med.) a disease or ailment confined to a particular part or organ, and not directly affecting the system.
See also: Local . Although the overall message of the Institute for Urban Design initiative is 'the need for reconstitution, not recreation' of the towers, sensibly within the context of a region that is not without considerable urban problems, it must also be said that there is a considerable body of popular opposition in New York to any building at all on what is now widely considered to be a war grave A war grave is a place where war dead are buried. It may contain either a combatant or a civilian. Although the victim does not need to die directly from enemy action, the main reason for calling a grave a war grave is that the death occurred as a result of active service by the , a holy and haunted place.
Energetic action needed?
The City of New York and the owner of the site are anxious for energetic action to protect the economy of the city and to help it recover as quickly as possible from the massive damage to the urban infrastructure in the immediate vicinity. A group of architects and planners led by Marilyn Jordon Taylor, Chairman of SOM, commissioned by Silverstein, the site's owner, has been hard at work for some months preparing proposals for rebuilding. However, this work is being carried out with a circumspection cir·cum·spec·tion
The state or quality of being circumspect. See Synonyms at prudence.
Noun 1. circumspection - knowing how to avoid embarrassment or distress; "the servants showed great tact and discretion" that almost amounts to secrecy - partly understandable - given not just the complexity of the planning, architectural, infrastructural and engineering issues involved but, much more importantly, the strength of public feeling and the immense and intricate legal problems that surround the project, including disputes about how much insurance is due (was it one incident or two?) and a burgeoning cloud of financial claims from the enormous number of people who have suffered the loss of relatives, of jobs, of income an d of property. Public curiosity is huge and growing. Hence the crowds and television cameras inside and outside the Max Protetch Gallery.
So how well have the architects invited to exhibit by Max Protetch risen to the occasion? Is this really the best we can do - an unprecedented opportunity for architects to show how they can transform the world? The graphic displays, the exaggerated ambitions, the formal games and the silliness that characterize much of this exhibition are totally inadequate to satisfy public hunger for a vision of a new and better New York. The show is a long way from being a Chicago Tribune Chicago Tribune
Daily newspaper published in Chicago. The Tribune is one of the leading U.S. newspapers and long has been the dominant voice of the Midwest. Founded in 1847, it was bought in 1855 by six partners, including Joseph Medill (1823–99), who made the paper Competition. This is architects at their worst. Many of these projects hardly deserve to be remembered next month, let alone next year, and certainly not for decades.
A rum do
The worst projects are the biggest and the most modishly mod·ish
Being in or conforming to the prevailing or current fashion; stylish. See Synonyms at fashionable.
modish·ly adv. architectural. Many are exercises in post Gehry, amorphic geometry, some shaped like the waving life forms that cluster round thermal activity, deep underneath the ocean. Why? To what end? What do these shapes mean? (Foreign Office Architects, OCEAN North, Oosterhuis Associates, Office dA, Lars Spuybroek Lars Spuybroek (Rotterdam, 1959) is a Dutch architect and artist. He graduated cum laude at the Technical University Delft in 1989. A year later he won the Archiprix for his Palazzo Pensile, a new royal palace for Queen Beatrix in Rotterdam. ). Equally strained and meaningless are exercises in gravity defying ectoplasm ectoplasm
an old-fashioned term which referred to a peripheral band of gel-like cytoplasm, free of organelles, found in free and motile cells. (Coop Himmelblau, Hans Hollein Hans Hollein, (born March 30, 1934 in Vienna) is an Austrian architect.
Hollein achieved a diploma at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in 1956, then attended the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1959 and the University of California, Berkeley in 1960. ). And what is a grieving public meant to make of a building full of holes -- a high-rise gruyere cheese Gru´yere` cheese´
1. A kind of cheese made at
Some architects have tried harder -- perhaps most movingly Samuel Mockbee's sketches of a contemplative pit, drawn on his deathbed. One can even sympathize -- for a second -- with the crude defiance of Morris Adjimi's towers, covered with stars and stripes Stars and Stripes
nickname for the U.S. flag. [Am. Hist.: Brewer Dictionary, 8567]
See : America . Fox and Fowle have made what looks like a serious attempt to create a varied, mixed-use development. More imaginatively, but in the same mode, RoTo Architects propose in a beautiful model a kind of coliseum of curving, medium-rise buildings, surrounding a place of remembrance. Zaha Hadid presents a series of semi-abstract images, accompanied by a surprisingly sensible text explaining that the real design task for the architect is to understand how cities can respond to change.
Some architects have imitated themselves -- Daniel Libeskind's jagged, anguished monument, Paoli Soleri's re-demonstration of arcology Arcology is a set of architectural design principles as described by the architect Paolo Soleri. The word is a portmanteau of architecture and ecology. , Will Alsop's elegant graphic fantasy -- all three somewhat empty and curiously analogous.
All in all, a pretty rum show. The three chief lessons to be drawn by architects from the exercise are never to respond to opportunistic boosterism boost·er·ism
The highly supportive attitudes and activities of boosters: "the civic pride and heady boosterism that often accompany rising property values" New York. , never to draw without thinking, and finally that design is far too serious a matter to be divorced from the rigour rig·our
n. Chiefly British
Variant of rigor.
rigour or US rigor
1. of the brief.
'A New World Trade Center' exhibition, Max Protetch Gallery, 511 W. 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011.