Thursday, March 29, 2007

On Shrugging Of The Conflict Between Modernists And Historicists That Absurdly Still Defines So Much Debate Over Contemporary Culture

"Three decades after his Pompidou Center in Paris turned the architecture world upside down and brought him global fame, the British architect Richard Rogers has been named the 2007 winner of the Pritzker Prize, the profession’s highest honor.

In the citation accompanying its decision, to be announced today, the Pritzker jury saluted Mr. Rogers for his “unique interpretation of the Modern Movement’s fascination with the building as machine, an interest in architectural clarity and transparency, the integration of public and private spaces, and a commitment to flexible floor plans that respond to the ever-changing demands of users.” ...

Mr. Rogers earned a reputation as a high-tech iconoclast with the completion of the 1977 Pompidou Center, with its exposed skeleton of brightly colored tubes for mechanical systems. The Pompidou “revolutionized museums,” the Pritzker jury said, “transforming what had once been elite monuments into popular places of social and cultural exchange, woven into the heart of the city.” Similarly, his 1986 Lloyd’s office building in the heart of the London financial district features a inside-out design, with a soaring atrium surrounded by external escalators and elevators.

Asked to describe his own stylistic signature, Mr. Rogers said he was recognized for “celebrating the components and the structure.”

“That’s how we get rhythm and poetry out of it,” he said. He added that he would like to be known for “buildings which are full of light, which are light in weight, which are flexible, which have low energy, which are what we call legible — you can read how the building is put together.”

Other high-profile projects by Mr. Rogers include the sprawling Millennium Dome in Greenwich, England, suspended from steel masts and secured by steel cable (1999), and the law courts in Bordeaux, France (1998) — seven “pods” clad in cedar wood surrounded by glass walls under an undulating copper roof.

Mr. Rogers’ most recent major undertaking was the $2.2 billion new terminal at Barajas International Airport in Madrid (2005), featuring waves formed by wings of prefabricated steel and a roof covered in bamboo strips. ...

While he had been largely absent from New York, Mr. Rogers now has four projects under way in the city: an expanded the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on the Far West Side of Manhattan; a tower at the World Trade Center site; a complex at Silvercup Studios in Long Island City, Queens; and a redesign of the East River waterfront.

Not all of these designs have been well received. Appraising Mr. Rogers’s vision for the Javits Center in The New York Times, Nicolai Ouroussoff said its boxy design was “a decent but not particularly dazzling work of architecture.”

But he offered glowing praise for Mr. Rogers’s reimagination of the East Side waterfront, designed in collaboration with Gregg Pasquarelli of SHoP Architects and the landscape architect Ken Smith.

“The idea is to create a seamless, contemplative environment along the waterfront that embraces both the fine-grained scale of the surrounding communities and the monumental scale of the freeway,” Mr. Ouroussoff wrote. “In doing so, the architects shrug off the conflict between Modernists and historicists that absurdly still defines so many urban planning debates in New York.”

Mr. Rogers said he was gratified by his New York commissions. He described the Javits project as “the most complex, but also the most exciting potentially — as a public space that could create the regeneration of a large area which is very depressed.”

Over the years he has become well known for his philosophy as well as for his buildings." ...

Robin Pogrebin "Top Prize for Rogers, Iconoclastic Architect" New York Times March 29, 2007

Richard Rodgers designed the Barajas International Airport in Madrid, Spain, European Union (2005).

Richard Rogers designed National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff, UK, European Union.

Photo credits: (c) OAS Travel Information and M.J.N.Colston Building Services Engineering With thanks.


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