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Is Recession Diminishing Design?
Posted August 20, 2009 06:51 AM
When the Parrish Art Museum—a fixture on the tony east end of Long Island since 1898—decided to build a new gallery more than twice the size of the original a few years ago, the plan was as ostentatious as the stock market was strong at the time. With a budget of $80 million, Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron envisioned a village of buildings modeled after a selection of the art studios that dot the surrounding area. When the market plunge slashed the budget to a mere $30 million or so, the design morphed into a long, low "horizontal structure nestled discretely in the landscape, consisting of two parallel wings joined by a central circulation spine running the length of the building," as the Parrish Art Museum release describes it in glowing terms. New York Times critic Nicolai Ouroussoff is a bit more dismissive in his characterization: "a major step down in architectural ambition ... It is a creeping conservatism—and aversion to risk—that leaves little room for creative invention." He concludes with an oddly forced induction: "It makes you wonder if the cultural consequences of the financial collapse will be as liberating as some have predicted."
Renderings by Herzog & de Meuron.
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