Can Mayors Help Architects Stay Relevant?

According to an opinion piece by Mimi Zeiger, "urban magistrates are appearing more frequently as personas on the architectural scene as designers tackle questions of the fate of the city." What can design-savvy mayors offer architects?

1 minute read

May 7, 2014, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Mimi Zeiger cites a number of examples of the increased presence of mayors mixing into the milieu of architects and architecture. "In fact, the Mextropoli architecture conference in Mexico included Barcelona's former mayor Jordi Hereu and Antanas Mockus, former mayor of Bogota, Colombia. And this week Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York opened the exhibition Letters to the Mayor."

"So, why all the interest in mayors? The emergence of the mayor as a political figure within contemporary architecture could represent a localised counterpoint to globalising forces, especially as it coincides with dust-ups over the place for politics within the discipline. Or… it may represent a well-meaning but insidious chumminess with those very forces."

Zeiger's analysis also raises questions about the idea of architect as advocate and about the value of local engagement versus globalization. On the latter point, Zeiger makes the following argument: "Citizen-versus-crony is a critical identity for both architect and critic. In a globalised, networked, and viral society, allegiance to a single city rather than to The City as a thematic may seem a bit mawkish or the stuff of fandom. But engagement with real, local conditions is crucial for architecture's global relevancy." 

Monday, May 5, 2014 in Dezeen

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