Icons Versus Places

Fred Kent of the Project for Public Spaces was recently entangled in a dispute with architect Frank Gehry over the impact of iconic architecture in cities. Though Gehry's work has its moments, Kent says city emphasis on icons is a mistake.
September 24, 2009, 8am PDT | Nate Berg
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"[T]he recent trend toward "iconic" architecture and design-which has gained a big following in the media and among high-profile clients, winning numerous prizes-minimizes the importance of citizen input and dismisses the goals of creating great public places. Instead it promotes a design-centric philosophy where all that matters is the artistic statement conceived by an internationally recognized celebrity. Frank Gehry, an architect of considerable talent and imagination, drew world attention to the iconic design movement with his famous Guggenheim Musuem in Bilbao, Spain. In the process, he inaugurated an era in which designers call all the shots in creating our cityscapes, leaving us with showy buildings and landscape forms meant to be admired from a distance rather than contributing to the vitality of everyday life in a local community."

Kent argues that cities need to place more importance on creating spaces that will actually be used, rather than expensive and underused spotlight buildings.

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Published on Tuesday, September 22, 2009 in The Project for Public Spaces
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