January 18, 2002
Notes from Robert Ivy, FAIA Editor-in-chief
Thats what it will be called. Last night, we witnessed
something of an architectural feeding frenzy, as the crowds
swelled into a sea and the media circled like sharks. To see
the opening on the national news, you would never dream how
quickly things had come together.
Only 2 months ago, Max Protetch, the gallery owner who specializes
in the art of architecture, determined that he wanted to contribute
to the World Trade Center tragedy by holding a show of architectural
ideas. He called me, flush with the idea, as well as others,
and asked for help in whom to asknot just the expected
names, although some would be welcome, but also young talent
that might not be expected to contribute. Iconic names like
Zaha Hadid and Steven Holl would mix it up with newer lights
such as Office dA. Surprises: some architects, like
the visionary Paolo Soleri, called and asked to be included
(he was welcomed); the opening wall held ideas from the late
MacArthur-award winning architect Sam Mockbee, who died in
December. ARs editorial staff came up with a longish
short list of 150 names to consider, but Max made the final
Essentially, the participants had a month to come up with
an idea, which they prepared gratis, including models; 3-dimensional,
digital proposals; and drawings. After brief coverage in the
Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, his appearance
on the Today show sealed events: we were headed for frenzy.
Max had been criticized, indeed subject to at least one individuals
righteous rage in a public forum, over holding the show without
consulting more New York-based architects; other thoughtful
architects and planners have suggested that it is too early
to jump to object-based solutions. I disagree.
The clamor we witnessed underscores a tremendous public thirst
for answers for lower Manhattan. Maxs response, which
is that of a proprietary gallery owner, includes architectural
expressions by bright minds worldwide that equate in some
cases to memorials placed in the linear shrines at Union Square,
in other cases to thoughtful initial ideas. Perhaps none should
be viewed as solutions, but rather as proposals, essays, or
personal expressions. In that light, all such ideas have currency.
Heres the bald truth. With major networks present from
the US and Europe, and lines around the block, the throng
was so intense that I havent really seen the show yet.
Youll see selections of the show in our pages soon,
so check it out yourself in our March issue. Meanwhile, Im
recovering from the crowd.
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