Cultural Architecture

Places that Work: National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) is a place that works because it attempts to reflect the cultures of those who first inhabited the Western Hemisphere. Located on the National Mall in Washington DC and operated by the Smithsonian Institution, the NMAI opened in 2004. There were many Native American architects affiliated with the project, initially lead by…

The Not-So-Hidden Agenda Against Gehry’s DC Memorial

The project may become a victim in a culture war, where ideas like Modernism, abstraction, and uncertainty are perceived as products of “liberal elites.

Images courtesy Eisenhower Memorial Commission This morning I received a breathless (as in, accusatory! alarming!) press release from an organization called the National Civic Art Society. They’re the Washington-based group that’s orchestrated much of the opposition to Frank Gehry’s proposed design for the Eisenhower Memorial. “National Civic Art Society Calls Attention to Conspicuous Gap in the Eisenhower Memorial Commission’s Meeting Minutes,”…

Places That Work: Hirshhorn

The building that houses the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is an exquisite disc that enhances the National Mall in Washington, DC.  Affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute, the Hirshhorn is shaped like a perfectly round donut that rests on four giant piers, 14 feet above ground level (museum visitors also have access to a lower level).  The hollow, cylindrical shape…

Krier: Gehry’s Eisenhower Memorial Is an “Anti-Monument”

Leon Krier condemns the controversial memorial design and sees a change to put an end to the decades-long "disfiguring" of the nation's capital.

Early design of the memorial Memorial design images courtesy Gehry Partners The Eisenhower Memorial competition and project have stirred a remarkable polemic, the center of which is not President Eisenhower or Washington, D.C. but Frank Gehry and the values he promulgates. I am writing not as an enemy of Mr. Gehry but as a lover of what the nation’s capital for two centuries…

MAM: Getting it Right, from the Start

Museum design has become synonymous with iconic forms, carved with ground-breaking technology to give the institutional building a visual identity, as strong as the best corporate logos do. But in Miami a project for the new art museum (under construction and expected to open in 2013) is breaking the mold. This design is bent on reminding us that this museum’s main…

This Westchester Memorial Is Everything the WTC, Regrettably, Won’t Be

Those seeking succor in architectural monuments—hopeless optimists, surely—might want to skip Ground Zero and take the train upstate.

Quick: think of a good contemporary memorial. No, not that one we’ve all heard quite enough about: Maya Lin’s shrine to the Vietnam War—a wonderful thing, a bolt from the blue, a one-in-a-million shot—a modern design that people actually respond to, but clearly neither a reproducible scheme nor useful as precedent, as the attempts of Lin’s imitators and her own…