Monday, September 18, 2006

architecture: Norman Foster on-screen and in Toronto

I saw Woody Allen's woefully underwritten Match Point and one of the characters works in "Norman's gherkin", the fabulous Swiss Re building. The movie's exterior shots obscure the building's seductive rounded bottom, so it looks like an obscenely phallic symbol on the skyline. But I've walked around it and it's so beautiful in its seamless idea->design->execution that it's unreal. The movie's interior shots show conventional rectangular offices walled off from the curving exterior, which if true is a shame.

I just learned from Wikipedia that stormin' Norman also designed a relatively modest University building that I enjoyed in Toronto. He's reliably fine and usually great.

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architecture: Foster and others' buildings at 9/11 site

I heard that my hero Norman Foster has a building at the 9/11 site. As does his one-time partner Richard Rogers. Here's a nice set of photos of the site.

It's just a collection of skyscrapers, but they should turn out nicely, and the memorial sounds promising. Liebeskind's Freedom Tower feels the weakest of the buildings, but the devil is in the details.

I was fortunate to see the WTC towers shortly after they were built, when they were right on the waterfront before all the dull C├ęsar Pelli towers in Battery Park City obscured them (see the before photo). They weren't lovely buildings, but very pure and the scale simply breathtaking.

The proposal to rebuild two towers there is touching, but the actual design for the rebuilt towers is hideous, losing the relentless endless columns of the original.

It's funny how the familes of victims feel they should get to choose the form of the buildings and the memorial. You're just minor stakeholders! This needs to be a historical site for the world.

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