Architecture Cleans House

With the waning of the starchitect era, Philip Nobel sees an opportunity to skewer some of the profession's "last stars standing" and applies his critical broom to help finish the house cleaning job.

Read Time: 1 minute

October 19, 2012, 6:00 AM PDT

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


Nobel revels in what he sees as a cultural revival of the Architecture field, as the starchitect and their taste-making boosters are lost to the din of new media and thriving subcultures. "For the first time in decades," he says, "there is space for other kinds of
architects-favoring other modes of practice-to breathe. Some firms have
stepped into that void, forefronting new techniques and ideas over form:
ARO; Lewis Tsurumaki Lewis; even LOT-EK, holding fast to its ongoing
project to glamorously repurpose industrial ready-mades, has never
played the diva game."

Nobel sees this moment as an opportunity to try to dismantle the myths surrounding the "last stars standing" - such as Thom Mayne/Morphosis and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. "Thom Mayne," he argues, "is still serving up the same Morphosis brew and the press is
still sucking it down. Like the old-fashioned star he is, Mayne depends
on his myth, his words, seductive but empty images, operating as if he
should get jobs by force of genius alone." 

He saves his harshest criticism for DS+R. "Theirs is a well-designed machine-Liz Diller talks theory, works
long-standing connections; Ric Scofidio provides gravitas, a link to
Hejdukian depth; Charles Renfro draws and burns up the night-but it is
fragile. The firm can only sustain its reputation by the grace of
starstruck observers."

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