By Alex Ulam - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 0 Comments
So long, Frank Gehry. The design world turns on ‘starchitecture’ and its excesses
Several days before the opening of the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, the most important architectural exhibition in the world, a middle-aged New York architect, Tod Williams, was shuffling around inside a rustic building adjacent to the Venice’s Arsenale, a massive brick complex several city blocks long where the Venetians formerly built their ships. It was a stifling hot day and Williams, bare-chested and dressed in a pair of baggy shorts, was arranging gray wood boxes contributed by several dozen leading figures from the architecture world.
Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, winner of architecture world’s top award, the Pritzker Prize, had sent in a box topped with a series of small glass bottles filled with paint pigments. American architect Brad Cloepfil had filled his box with carved tree branches. Mack Scogin and Merrill Elam’s box has had a collage hanging from it that included doll limbs and black feathers that almost didn’t make it into the show because it was temporarily impounded by Italian customs.
It was no accident that architectural models were not on display. “We said, ‘Do anything you wish,’” said Williams, “But fill it with something personal, something that is not architecture.”