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Comments Posted 07.17.09 | PERMALINK | PRINT

Mark Lamster

A Plea for Crazy in Architecture


12-view-from-53rd-street

The architect John Beckmann, of the firm Axis Mundi, is promoting an alternative to the Jean Nouvel tower MoMA has commissioned as a part of its continuing expansion. I don't see the folks at the museum, or their development partner, jettisoning Nouvel's plan, nor should they, especially for what is—let's face it—a rather half-baked amalgam of several projects by the Dutch firm MVRDV and any number of Archigram-era visions. (MoMA, for what it's worth, has actually built its own wonderfully hirsute bit of crazy at PS1.) So fine, Beckmann's scheme is nuts. Nevertheless, I find it irresistible. How can you not love it? Hanging gardens. Stairwells in the sky. A giant jigsaw of a building. Weirdness. Who would not want to explore this cartoon structure? Modernism (and that Vader-like Nouvel building in particular), is all too often impersonal and intimidating, but one suspects even Jacques Tati would be happy in this place. Certainly it's better than the banality that is Rafael Vinoly's latest addition to the Cleveland Museum of Art. A few more pics after the jump.

11-tower-midlevel 09-tower-detail
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Mark Lamster is the architecture critic of the Dallas Morning News and a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington School of Architecture. A contributing editor to Architectural Review, he is currently at work on his third book, a biography of the late architect Philip Johnson. Follow: @marklamster.
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