In the architecture world in the past few weeks, no one has had more fun than the Burj-bashers (except, I guess, their headline writers). It’s almost too easy: a pinnacle of vanity, the Hummer of architecture, a symbol of an era in which no one would choose to live. What ties the reviews together is that they aren’t just about the tower–they use the Burj as a scapegoat for a decade of excess. But if the ’00s were such a boom, why do all the Best of the Decade lists look the same?
- The Post gives Herzog and de Meuron two of its Top Five spots (for the Tate Modern and the Beijing Stadium).
- The Guardian takes an Anglo-centric look, but reminds us of some oft-forgotten gems like the Blur Building and the Observatory Hotel in Cerro Paranal, Chile. (Yes, Herzog and de Meuron’s Bird’s Nest makes his list too.)
- The Huffington Post’s list is an almost perfect combination of those two: Six of its top 10 come from Glancey’s ten, two from the Post’s five. It’s all the hits: Burj, Bird’s Nest, CCTV.
- In New York, Curbed pools a small group of commenters, critics, and architects to come up with its own predictable list: Alice Tully Hall, the New Museum, and 40 Bond (Herzog and de Meuron clearly had the best decade of all).
And then, just a few days ago, came this. Mammoth, a fascinating, super-heady, theoretical architecture blog, posted a defiantly weird list that includes things like the Hadron Collider, the iPhone, and a “wetland machine.” The selections are unique in size and scope–not necessarily big (though most are), the projects definitely think big, re-imagining place and space and our relationship to it (this is a theory blog, after all). Not so fast, curmudgeons–the ’00s were more than just glitz and glam.
P-REX’s wetland machine would repair Italy’s drained Pontine marshes.