Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Starchitecture in Miami

There is an article in today's New York Times titled "Miami Is All About Its Celebrity Architects," which talks about new work by Frank Gehry, Herzog and de Meuron, Cesar Pelli, Richard Meier, and Enrique Norton in Miami, complete with pictures of flashy new-and-different buildings.

This article fawns over these "celebrity architects," but it makes two statements that inadvertently reveal what this sort of starchitecture is all about:

"Major developers across the country have long since realized, of course, that celebrity architecture sells. But its sudden rise here seems linked to a new level of design consciousness, an outgrowth of the now-entrenched fashion industry in South Beach..."

"Jim DeFede, a local television news commentator, suggested that Miami now relished the attention it could draw by setting its architectural sights high. 'Clearly, Miami still has an inferiority complex,' he said. 'Miami so desperately wants to be viewed as a great city, as a capital of the Americas.'"

So, starchitecture is like the fashion industry, trying to come up with something new and flashy for this season to attract attention and sell itself. And cities are attracted to this if they have "inferiority complexes" that they are trying to overcome by keeping up with the latest fashions.

It is easy to throw away last season's dresses when they go out of fashion. It is not as easy to throw away last season's buildings. When this wave of starchitecture is replaced by some new fad, Miami will be left with some very conspicuously out-of-date buildings, which will help to feed its inferiority complex.

The Times article is available at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/30/arts/design/30buil.html?_r=1&oref=slogin


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