Can a New Exhibition Burnish the Reputation of an Architect Reviled by Planners?

An exhibition opening at the Museum of Modern Art this weekend presents a comprehensive review of the career of Le Corbusier, one of the most influential and controversial architects of the 20th Century. How will it change perceptions of his work?
June 15, 2013, 9am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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In previewing the exhibition, Anthony Flint, who is authoring a book on Le Corbusier scheduled for publication next year, compares the former Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris to Robert Moses, a similarly reviled figure who received a "thorough revisiting" in a recent exhibition. 

"Like Moses, the Swiss-born visionary of modern architecture is also widely disparaged, by New Urbanists and traditionalists involved in any way in the world of urban planning and urban design," he writes. "Le Corbusier is blamed for the 'towers in the park' of ill-fated public housing projects in cities across America, the devastating slum clearance of mid-century urban renewal, and elevated urban freeways that are being systematically dismantled to this day."

"'Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes,' on view from June 15 to September 23, is an engaging packaging of the career of this innovative designer and artist, tracing a journey from a watchmaking capital in northwest Switzerland to Paris, South America, the Soviet Union, India, and beyond," explains Flint. "It may not change the minds of those who believe that his ideas led to permanent damage for the American city, but the sweeping exhibition provides important insight into the puzzles Le Corbusier was trying to solve in the first place."

Flint points to Corbusier's work that predates "certain aspects of green building" and the contemporary affinity for micro-housing as elements that may garner the architect more positive attention. However, he concludes, "One leaves the show with a thorough sense of the man, and that may be its greatest accomplishment."

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Published on Friday, June 14, 2013 in The Atlantic Cities
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