Zaha Hadid brings subtlety to Cincinnati. Not something it's used to.

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Zaha Hadid brings subtlety to Cincinnati. Not something it's used to.

Postby Paul Clerkin » Mon Jun 16, 2003 5:03 pm

Zaha Hadid brings subtlety to Cincinnati. Not something it's used to.

Zaha Hadid's designs used to be considered unbuildable, by people who knew nothing about architecture. Then she built a few things in odd corners of Europe - a fire station, a tram depot, a ski jump - and the same people said, OK, so she can do little stuff. But a big cultural venue - that's different. After which, it was only a matter of time before Zaha completed a big cultural venue, an $30m art gallery in this case, which she won in competition against the best in the world. The oddest thing about it is not what it looks like but where it is. Cincinnati? Please.

http://www.hughpearman.com/articles4/hadid.html
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Postby alan d » Tue Jun 17, 2003 9:21 am

Well, if Hugh Pearman says it them it must be true. For me though, only a carpet of poison ivy growing at the door could make it a tad more edifying.
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue Jun 17, 2003 9:47 am

Lol.....
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Postby Hugh » Tue Jun 17, 2003 1:52 pm

No redeeming features at all, Alan D?

I think she's just working in a venerable tradition. If the attachment comes through, you should be able to see here a (now ruined) Frank Lloyd Wright house of 1938 that is a dead ringer for the Cincinnati gallery.

If it doesn't work, the reference is the Rose Pauson House in Phoenix, Arizona.
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue Jun 17, 2003 2:42 pm

More points of view

Busting the Box: Zaha Hadid, the queen bee of unbuilt designs, at last has a building worth buzzing about - Time Magazine

Could Unusually Lavish Praise of Cincinnati's Art Center Be Just a Bit Premature?
Muschamp beatifies Hadid... By Roger K. Lewis Washington Post
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Postby alan d » Tue Jun 17, 2003 2:50 pm

What about Breuer's Whitney Museum from 1966? Judging by the images published the immediate context looks strikingly similar.

Zahid's drawn images are stunning but her architecture and particulary her interiors for me, lack any warmth. What's wrong with an architecture that is innovative yet tactile, edifying and uplifting instead of looking like it might jab your eye out.


Judging by Hugh Pearmans comments about the city, that's more what Cincinnati needs. but unfortunately make me less likely to go
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Postby alan d » Tue Jun 17, 2003 3:04 pm

There are also glowing tributes on http://www.entablature.com from the New York Times and Washington Post. Must be me, right enough. Sorry, Ms Hadid

So much about architectural critisism could be written in sanskrit and with a six inch nail for all the sense it makes, to me.
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue Jun 17, 2003 3:26 pm

Have to admit myself, that the building leaves me cold. Something about the external elevations make me think of lego.

Besides designing art galleries are form of architectural masturbation - theyre not real buildings, people dont have to live in them as a home or as an office. Theyre modern day theme parks.
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Postby Hugh » Tue Jun 17, 2003 3:31 pm

A sense of proportion is needed. For me it is a good building but I wouldn't call it great. The effusive comments coming out of America - particularly the New York Times - are well over the top. The NYT calls it something like "the best building in America since the end of the Cold War". A wholly meaningless thing to say.
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Postby alan d » Tue Jun 17, 2003 3:59 pm

I have in front of me the new architectural magazine" Icon" with a picture and text "Zaha Hadid takes America". Really, takes it where?

You're right Hugh, it's an interesting building and a marker for Ms Hadid and I wish her well, seriously. Architectural writers have a responsibility though and I've yet to read a critical review of her work from any source. So much seems to tip over into hyperbole. Same is true for Herzog, Libeskind, Koolhaas, Coates........ It forces me to the conclusion that they don't know really what the f*** their writing about.
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Postby alan d » Fri Jun 20, 2003 11:23 am

Funny you should mention masturbation Paul. One of my mates has just forwarded me Patrick Wright's tribute to Hadid and Cincinnati from yesterdays Guardian. My old man was obviously dead right, I think it must eventually effect your eyes.
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Fri Jun 20, 2003 12:12 pm

Link alan?
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Postby alan d » Fri Jun 20, 2003 1:00 pm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/features/story/0,11710,980284,00.html

There ye are old boy.

Gonna now contact those p.r. people, see if I can at least get a discount at Issay Miyake. I just love those loose fitting, free flowing sculptural forms don't you ......and good for covering a big a*** too.
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Fri Jun 20, 2003 1:12 pm

Ahh Alan, I work from home, most days I dont bother with clothes.... ;) or at least wear the limited edition Archeire.com t-shirts...
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Postby Hugh » Fri Jun 20, 2003 1:37 pm

Now, now, boys. Patrick is merely talking up the TV programme he's made, so I don't think we can expect him to diss Zaha.

Who by the way has slimmed down a lot these days, Alan. Physically if not egoistically, that is.

And before you ask - no I am not a personal friend of either.
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Fri Jun 20, 2003 1:46 pm

Hugh... interesting book here in ireland "Laptop Dancing and the Nanny Goat Mambo" on the role of the sportswriter in sport and how they're hated by sportspeople.... are architect critics like that... and if not should they be....
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Postby alan d » Fri Jun 20, 2003 2:42 pm

Sorry Paul, an image of you sitting by the key board naked is something I'd rather not have in my head. Where can I get an Archeire T shirt then Paul?

EXTRA LARGE to compliment my free flowing, sculptural, black watch tartan Issay Miyake dressing gown that Hugh's pal Patrick is gonna send me for posting his homage to Ms Hadid, so that all the world can read it
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Postby alan d » Fri Jun 20, 2003 4:12 pm

Apologies, the idea of a Scot wearing an Archeire t shirt is daft.

Instead, I'm getting as advertised in the Guardian the shirt with "Would you call me a diva, if I was a guy?" on the front with "no, but you'd have to pucker up for a P.F.I., like the rest of us " on the back

Oh and Hugh, it's a hell of a price to pay to get four viewers instead of three on BBC 4
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Fri Jun 20, 2003 4:44 pm

i'll do up some limited edition archiseek:edinburgh t-shirts ;) that should appeal to your glasgow soul...
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Postby alan d » Fri Jun 20, 2003 5:11 pm

You'll have more chance selling them in Glasgow than Edinburgh, that's for sure.

Unless they can stay clean for weeks without washing, be removed with a blunt instrument once threadbare, have a parochial oulook and historical feel and then dissappear up the owners own backside, conveying a tired message that no one wants to hear, when through.
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Postby Hugh » Fri Jun 20, 2003 5:21 pm

Can't get BBC 4 on my televisual set-up, so I'm with the rest of the population in missing all this cutting-edge architecture programming.

Somehow I get by.
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Postby alan d » Fri Jun 20, 2003 5:31 pm

Well, I guess that'll still be three viewers for Patrick then.

I'll also miss Ms Hadid

Somehow I'll get by

Have a great weekend in Ireland Paul and wherever you are Hugh, old boy
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Folk Art Museum Manhattan

Postby garethace » Sun Jun 22, 2003 4:05 pm

I thought this qoute was funny:

If the Marcel Breuer's Whitney Museum is the box that Frank Lloyd Wright's Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum came in, then Tod Williams Billie Tsien & Associates' new and rather small American Folk Art Museum at 45 West 53rd Street is the origami for the Whitney.

Background about designers of folk museum, and an indication of what esteem that they are held over there. Surprising the way Hadid manages even to come up for nice commisions like Cinti Gallery:

The husband-wife team of architects is not new to the East Coast architectural scene, but Tod Williams and Billie Tsien deserve wider recognition (and more building commissions) elsewhere.

http://www.thecityreview.com/afolkart.html
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Postby garethace » Mon Sep 22, 2003 3:43 pm

Another not to complimentary opinion of the Cinncinati building here:

From someone who has experienced the building
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Cincinnati Effect

Postby alan d » Wed Feb 15, 2006 2:03 pm

Did'nt we have adiscussion about this a while back Paul?

After the buzz disappears, so do the crowds

Cincinnati Arts Center

San Francisco Chronicle, February 14, 2006.

John King.


Cincinnati -- When architect Zaha Hadid strutted her stuff on Sixth Street in 2003, critics swooned and attendance soared -- two reasons the Contemporary Arts Center in this long-struggling downtown hired her in the first place.

Three years later, the building's still there. The crowds aren't, judging by what I saw earlier this month. And this would-be icon stands as a cautionary tale: In an age when celebrity architects are courted by cities and institutions desperate to make a splash, brand-name buzz can fade quicker than a fresh coat of paint.

Not that you'll find much paint adorning Hadid's energetic concoction at Walnut and Sixth streets, a jabbing collage of concrete piled atop glass.

The exterior resembles an interlocked and overlapped set of unadorned cubes starting to pull apart. A long black form shoves out toward Walnut Street, while a gray slab that looks like a squat sideways L is perched on thin concrete stilts above the ground floor's glass wall.

Step inside and the sharp-angled confusion continues; the only curve comes as the floor slides up to become the rear wall, a move that Hadid dubbed the "urban carpet" whisking the city into the institution. Alongside it, a black ramp slices upwards five stories through a thin atrium. At each stop there's a varied jostle of galleries -- connected by twists and turns rather than the spacious art-lined passages you expect in a museum.

Part of this is the jammed demands of the shoebox-shaped site, and the needs of a center with no permanent collection that prides itself on exhibiting "art of the last 10 minutes." But the provocative shape also is a 3-D realization of the models and drawings by Hadid that captivated critics in the 1980s and '90s, though few of her designs actually got built.

Imagine atoms shooting out from the Big Bang -- and being captured in architectural forms.

Personal details made the story even better for cultural trend-spotters. Here was an Iraq-born British citizen with a personality to match her flamboyant designs getting her biggest commission yet -- her first one in America -- for the nation's first major museum designed by a woman.

No wonder Charlie Rose had Hadid on his PBS talk show. Twice!

When the doors swung open in May 2003, architecture critics burst into rapturous applause. "Wandering through the building is like exploring the varied and unpredictable terrain of present time," wrote the New York Times' Herbert Muschamp. Nicolai Ouroussoff of the Los Angeles Times (who now occupies Muschamp's post) hailed "a titillating architectural experience" that offers "the kind of cultural sustenance our world craves."

As for the "urban carpet," Abby Bussel of Architecture magazine proclaimed that it "upends the city, stirring it like a Tom Collins cocktail and reordering it in a Piranesian dreamscape."

The city soaked it all up; one official at the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce called the center "a hook to get people to take a deeper look at what our region has to offer." Membership tripled to 6,200 at the center itself, which had last attracted national attention in 1990 when the director was put on trial for obscenity (and acquitted) for showing a Robert Mapplethorpe photography exhibit.

"It means a new beginning for the city," one guest told the Cincinnati Enquirer on opening night. "I'm sick of people putting us down. We are so not dead."

But when I stopped by this month on a weekday afternoon, I pretty much had the Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art to myself. And on a gray day with nobody but docents in sight, something else was missing -- the sense of kinetic urgency that makes Hadid a critical favorite.

The concrete felt heavy; the spaces seemed dark. Up close, the physical details weren't engaging. As for the vaunted urban carpet, I wouldn't have noticed the transition of floor to wall if I hadn't been primed to look for it.

Also underwhelming: the outside of the building, which shares a block dominated by a Stalinesque parking garage and an icy-dull high-rise. Instead of a cubist sculpture itching to explode, it looked more like a monochromatic hipster who crashed the wrong party.

The center's rewarding, no doubt about it, particularly for anyone interested in today's architecture. But it isn't transcendent, much less the "dream sensation of ... an alternative world," to again quote the ever-quotable Muschamp.

Nor is it a catalyst -- and that's what bothered me the most.

Here's why: Back in 1981, when the Contemporary Arts Center was still tucked in a storefront above Fountain Square, I interned at the Cincinnati Enquirer in a terrific 1920s tower one block from where the center is now.

Though downtown wasn't buoyant by any stretch, it had a cosmopolitan air. Fountain Square was lively, with shops and restaurants nearby serving a clientele that wanted urbanity but didn't have time to visit Chicago or New York. The place felt great, a big city working hard to defy the odds.

But that's a long time ago, and in the interval, things came apart. The arts center isn't the only big-ticket bid for attention; there also are new sports stadiums along the Ohio River and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. But the center did not hold: Downtown feels dingy and tired. Fountain Square is being redone. The Enquirer moved out. So did Graeter's, purveyors of the best chocolate chip ice cream in the world. It's even hard to find Skyline Chili, the indigenous cuisine.

The art center's membership is back to 3,500.

In other words, Hadid's architectural pyrotechnics haven't reversed the tide. Granted, I visited on a bleak day in bleak midwinter. But empty storefronts and "office for rent" signs aren't seasonal.

This isn't to say the continued troubles are her fault; working with Cincinnati firm KZF Design, Hadid created an arts showplace that intrigues without overwhelming, inside and out.

The problem is that it was touted as more -- a civic savior and an architectural milestone. Like too many buildings completed since Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, Hadid's arts center was intended as a larger-than-life phenomenon. But when we're asked to judge architecture on the basis of sensation rather than structure, the result is bound to ring hollow once the crowds move on.

The proof's right here. On full view. With no lines.
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