New Exhibit Documents the Promise of Mid-Century Baghdad

Julie V. Iovine examines a new exhibition at the Center for Architecture in New York that seeks to capture the spirit of architectural possibility and optimism that defined midcentury Baghdad.

1 minute read

April 6, 2012, 6:00 AM PDT

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


"City of Mirages: Baghdad, 1952-1982," which originated at the Collegi d'Arquitectes de Catalunya in Barcelona, presents the speculative work of architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier and Alvar Aalto as they, "flocked to Baghdad ready to build housing, civic centers, museums, sports complexes, campuses, libraries and an opera house-all that a re-emerging nation would need to show it should be taken seriously on the world stage."

Because many of the buildings featured in the show where either never completed or have been lost to war and neglect, curator Pedro Azara chose to only use architectural sketches, plans and models in the exhibit to capture the spirit of the time in which they were produced.

In addition to featuring lesser known designs of some of the world's most famous architects of the last century during the twilight of their careers (including the work of a 90-year-old Frank Lloyd Wright), Iovine cheers how the the "small but intense" exhibition depicts "how different Western architects interpreted the local building traditions, the pull of exotic imagery and particularly the extreme climate."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012 in The Wall Street Journal

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