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News Highlights of the Week: July 4 – July 11, 2008

July 11, 2008

By Jenna M. McKnight

A tower Daniel Libeskind designed for the center of Milan might not get built because Italy’s prime minister thinks it exudes a “sense of impotence,” reports The Independent. Silvio Berlusconi, speaking to an Italian newspaper, expressed his displeasure with the proposed skyscraper, which appears to lean forward, and threatened to withdraw planning permission for the project. An angry Libeskind fired back in an interview with the same newspaper, comparing Berlusconi’s remarks to Fascist ideology and accusing him of “hating foreigners.” “In Fascist Italy, everything that was not ‘straight’ was considered ‘perverse art,’” Libeskind was quoted as saying. “My tower is inspired by the work of Leonardo da Vinci, and great Italian culture. [Mr. Berlusconi] does not have the time or intellect to study these.” The skyscraper is part of a redevelopment project proposed for Fieramilanocity, the former site of the Milan Furniture Fair. As RECORD recently reported, Zaha Hadid, Arata Isozaki, and Pier Paolo Maggiora also have designed buildings for the site.

tower designed by Daniel Libeskind for Milan
Image courtesy CityLife
Italy's prime minister has spoken out against a tower designed by Daniel Libeskind for Milan. The building (pictured at center) is part of the redevelopment of Fieramilanocity, an exhibition center that formerly hosted the Milan Furniture Fair.
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Another European politician is making headlines in the architectural world. In Paris, Mayor Bertrand Delanoe wants to revoke the city’s 30-year-old ban on tall buildings and construct six new towers, according to the Telegraph newspaper. The current height limit is 37 meters, or 121 feet. The Socialist mayor says the buildings would help relieve the city’s housing shortage. He presented his proposal to the city council, which this week voted in favor of studying it. The idea is not popular with Parisians: polls suggest that two-thirds of the city’s population oppose the change, and Deputy Mayor Denis Baupin has spoken out against it. “This is bling-bling architecture. We’ve already got one tower that adds to the city’s radiance: the Eiffel Tower. No need for another one,” he told Le Parisien newspaper. As RECORD reported last month, several high-rises are planned for Paris’s business district, La Défense, including Signal Tower by Jean Nouvel, intended to be a new icon for the city.

Speaking of icons, the Abu Dhabi government now owns a 90 percent stake in the Chrysler Building, according to a story this week in The New York Times. The emirate purchased the holding for $800 million from developer Tishman Speyer and the German real estate fund TMW. Despite only retaining a 10 percent stake in the skyscraper, Tishman Speyer will continue to control and manage the building because it owns the land underneath it. Tishman Speyer bought the 77-story, Art Deco tower in 1997 for about $220 million and spent $100 million on a three-year renovation. The building, completed in 1930, was designed by William van Alen.

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