Saturday, May 19, 2007

ricardo is my fave

There's a new article in Metropolis online in the "speak truth to power" category. And while I agree with most of the (rather broad) formulations--the most famous does not equate with the most talented, iconic buildings are often one-dimensional-- I really can't rally behind the whole argument.

First off, the article seems to be equates "starchitecture" with theory-driven unbuilt work, which seems to me to be patently untrue. The most recognisable architects of the moment, Gehry and Liebskind,have been spending the last decade (or at least the last five years)building continuously and steadily. And while I appreciate a trulycritical review of theICA Boston, I don't think that Diller Scofidio + Renfrocan really be fit into the star category, no matter how you shove. Maybe among students and critics, but certainly not the general populace.

I also think it's somewhat backhanded to say the building is slapdash or hackneyed-- this is an enormously complex project that pushes the boundaries in a number of ways (especially for
Boston). In addition, an even cursory perusal ofDS+R's work would point to the fact that this firm actuallyhas a rather deep understanding of the way buildings work on an urban scale; whatever problems the street front of this building has, to simply attribute it universally to the fame of the firm in general is the kind of lazy criticism the article started out fighting against. It
seems to me that perhaps this particular critic doesn't like a)Starchitects or b)Conceptulaized practice, and is attempting to conflate the two to kill two birds with one stone.

An one last note-- any kind of blanket criticism of work by any firm based upon it's fame inside or outside the profession ignores a very important fact-- these offices are chock-full of the smartest graduates from the best schools in the last five years. They'revertiable hives of budding archigenious. Despite the failings of any particular Gehry or OMA project, there is usually a shocking amount of good idea per square yard, if you look closely enough. In my opinion, the mediocrity ofstarchitecture is less often due to the ego of the principal* and more often the result of a combination of incredible complexity of program, high expectations, and too much importance placed upon iconic status or innovation for innovation's sake. Such buildings become overworked or hackneyed because of all of the attention paid, not despite it.

*Unless your first name is Zaha or your last name is Nouvel.

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