Zaha Hadid (Inadvertently) Designs A Mausoleum

Ah, the end to the halcyon days of art/fashion/architecture. When money meant everything and artists and architects could pimp themselves out to the highest bidder with no repercussions. Hell, anyone that pointed out their immoral money grubbing was called a terrorist-sympathizers or a jealous spoilsport.

I’m a little surprised by people’s disgust at Zaha Hadid designing a portable Chanel store. I mean, she is already designing the mausoleum of the human rights-hating dead Azeri dictator Heydar Aliyev, so why wouldn’t she (inadvertently) design another structure that may be the tombstone to an era most liberals would prefer to forget…the post-9/11 one.

Here‘s the NY Times review by Nicolai Ouroussoff and boy is this my favorite passage:

Opening the pavilion in Central Park only aggravates the wince factor. Frederick Law Olmsted planned the park as a great democratic experiment, an immense social mixing place as well as an instrument of psychological healing for the weary. The Chanel project reminds us how far we have traveled from those ideals by dismantling the boundary between the civic realm and corporate interests.

Amen. Time to return to a more rational approach to public space, one that doesn’t post a “for rent” sign on it.

I also spotted something in Ed Winkleman’s take on the Times review which I strongly disagree with:

Of course when plans for building the Pavilion first got underway, there was no reason to suspect its arrival in New York would coincide with Capitalism’s existential crisis, so that last charge is a bit opportunistic, but it’s hard to come to the defense of such an elaborate advertising gimmick.

I would disagree about his charge of opportunism. Most of us knew that what many contemporary architects were doing was down right problematic. If it wasn’t the crisis of Capitalism, it was the crisis of human rights (which was in code red since Gitmo opened), or the crisis of meaning in architecture and art. Architects for far too long have been able to get away with designing stylish buildings without offering any new ideas and people didn’t mind that they worked for awful dictators or autocrats. That period is (hopefully) over and I, for one, am elated.

Also check out One-Way Street’s post about the same topic here.

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