Op-Ed: Starchitecture Fails the Future

An addiction to spectacle and fad, says Peter Buchanan, has set architecture adrift in a sea of meaningless forms. And real design problems go ignored.
March 20, 2015, 6am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Peter Buchanan criticizes "starchitecture" for being over-whimsical and faddish, lacking responsibility in a world beset by social and environmental upheaval. "Yet from this pluralist smorgasbord nothing appeared that was likely to prove truly satisfying over the long term nor relevant to the increasingly pressing problems we face. Instead it all deteriorated into a quest not for lasting relevance but rather for immediate impact and exciting novelty in dynamically gesturing form [...]"

The article lays into the creations of Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid, claiming the future will view them as follies. "Parametricism cannot become the long-term successor to Modernism because, like nearly all starchitecture, it ignores and exacerbates the urgent challenges of our time, such as the environmental crisis and the need to reintegrate ruptured urban fabric. Instead it is a perfect example of what Marshall McLuhan aptly termed a sunset effect, an exaggerated caricature of now obsolete characteristics of a waning era."

Starchitecture, for Buchanan, is vapid attention-seeking that discredits the field as a whole. "[...] the attention attracted by works like those of Gehry and Hadid impedes the rethinking of architecture that is so desperately overdue. We need to move on from the adolescent search for momentary excitement and spectacle to a more mature architecture of synthesis and subtlety that reveals its understated riches over time."

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Published on Friday, February 27, 2015 in The Architectural Review
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