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Thom Mayne As The Voice Of Reason

NY Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff (we don't know how to pronounce it either) gets his panties in a twist on the "new medievalism" of contemporary architecture. Thought the millenium, new technology, a growing sense of globalism and diversity, and better materials would bring about "a more fluid, transparent landscape?" Guess again! Ouroussoff makes the case that the looming threat of terrorism, violence, and a world on the brink of anarchy has resulted in architecture that serves less as civic landmarks and more as civic defense. Targets (excuse the pun) of his vitriol include the new Freedom Tower in New York, the US Embassy in London, and the Green Zone in Baghdad (apparently equivalent in its sterility "to the gated suburban enclaves of Southern California." Oh snap!). Also singled out (though to a lesser extent: Thom Mayne's Caltrans headquaters, aka the Death Star.

And yet, the voice of reason to temper the architectural obsession with security: Thom Mayne. The audio accompaniment in the side bars is worth a listen as Mayne coolly disses and dismisses the Freedom Tower and argues the problem is perceptual and political, and any attempt to build "secure" structures is an exercise in futility. Way to harsh our mellow, Mayne. And way to report this trend at least 3 years late, Ourousoff.
· Medieval Modern: Design Strikes a Defensive Posture [NY Times]