The end of pointlessly pointy architecture? We'll see12:17 AM Tue, Jun 15, 2010 | Permalink
Email this author | Email this entry
Illustration: Above, from the slide show, is the proposed addition to London's Tate Modern, an allegedly downspirited version by the original's architect, Switzerland's Herzog & de Meuron.
* * *
Has the recession brought an end to pointlessly pointy starchitecture? We wish. And we'll see. But if this essay is any indicator, don't hold your breath.
Newsweek has a longish essay on the slough of despond that modern architecture supposedly has entered in our pared down era of diminished starchitectural expectations. The author, Cathleen McGuigan, quotes some young architects saying some sensible things, but the proof isn't in the pudding, at least not so as you could tell from the "That was then/This is now" slide show that runs with the online version. There is no mention or hint whatsoever of new traditional as an alternative, of course. That would make too much sense.
Still, McGuigan opens most deliciously with a description of an off-Broadway play by Oren Safdie called The Bilbao Effect, about a starchitect named Erhardt Schlaminger and his discontents after a model of his latest project drives a woman to suicide. The description is worth more than the price of admission (free). Safdie's play is the second of a trilogy about contemporary architecture; the first, out in 2003, is called Private Jokes, Public Places. His father, Moshe Safdie, born in Haifa, is a starchitect. (Yes, this gets juicier and juicier.)
Alas, the play closed on June 5, my second evening of my recent trip to New York with Victoria and our little boy Billy. I didn't know it was playing.