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June 22, 2008

When architects meet autocratic clients, when's time to walk?

Atlantic Yards Report

A New York Times architecture column today, headlined I’m the Designer. My Client’s the Autocrat., takes on the question--raised by Daniel Libeskind--about working for repressive regimes:
Some architects argue that it is unrealistic and self-serving for them to presume that they can transform a society or distance themselves from a patron’s conduct.
“Sometimes architects like to think they’re above the political fray,” said Frederic M. Bell, the executive director of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects. “I think that’s a little bit disingenuous. Sometimes it’s very difficult to take commissions from countries with positions with which one disagrees.”

While Forest City Ratner is not Communist China, that still reminds me of a couple of AY-related quotes. Frank Gehry in January 2006 said, "If I think it got out of whack with my own principles, I’d walk away."

Asked if previous projects involved the use of eminent domain or eminent domain abuse, and whether that be enough to make him walk away from Atlantic Yards, he responded, "No comment."


Posted by amy at June 22, 2008 10:43 AM