Topic for Debate
100 years later, will you be proud of your design?
Architects and civil engineers have a tremendous influence on a community, the flow of persons through structures, around structures. We have an effect on the communities' psyche though our design, through form, color, location and contrast. We can embrace a culture by build forward with a responsible link to historical relevance or we can be destructive bringing in "foreign organisms" in shape, purpose and design and pollute the canvas upon which we build.

This is not to say that all structures should mirror one another, nor should they all be in the same likeness of one another, but it is to say that a I believe that architects and engineers should design and build with the spirit and integrity of the community in mind. Building forward is a mentality that uses the communities' history, legacy, culture and heritage as the foundation upon which growth can occur. If we design selfishly or in the light of our own passions, be it contemporary, or Islamic architecture etc, what will the effects be void of context? We leave behind physical reminders of our decisions and these decisions are designed to stand for centuries.

Will you be proud of your design in 100 years from today?
Amy Eman Moselhi
100 years later, will you be proud of your design?
P Das
100 years later, will you be proud of your design?
Yes, I think so!
Abhishek Mathur
100 years later, will you be proud of your design?
Depends upon the type of building use; a general residential bldg should serve three generations well, ie., 75 years; a commercial bldg's life generally in a changing society is 30 years, ok for skyscrapers to go for 100 years or say religious places or govt. bldgs in capitals should have longer span.

What I have said is of contemporary bldgs, unless some museum of landmark status is built. So I shall say that 100 years is really a long time span for design appreciation.
Dushyant Nathwani
100 years later, will you be proud of your design?

Any design that lasts a hundred years must have some value, if only in the sense of being well-built.

For myself, buildings tend to survive if they can cater for multiple reuses and why they survive is because their low tech design allows for periods of neglect when maintenance is minimal.

Today's modern hi-tech designs follow the path of "built-in obsolesence" and so are not designed to last 100 years.
Such a wasteful approach to design is always unsustainable and never green.
Frank John Snelling
100 years later, will you be proud of your design?
Dear Amy,

I think that the question you pose at the end of your post shall not help address your basic concern.

First, no architect can state with absolute certainty that he will be happy with his work in the future, and you are talking about 100 years, which is beyond the life span of a human being. This is because every person changes with time in their tastes, outlook, priorities, etc., etc. Most architects also get dissatisfied with their past works, progressively trying to figure out ways to improve their work...most architects, that is.

Secondly, culture is a dynamic concept. What is right today maybe wrong tomorrow. Therefore, I may design a building which focuses on the current social context, and not on my selfish outlook; but it may still be redundant for the changed social context after a 100 years.
Shubhru Gupta
100 years later, will you be proud of your design?
The pitiful state of architecture is made evident by the mere fact that this question needs to be asked.

Of course, it is critical that some of the many hundreds of major civic and religious architectural works will continue to inspire 100 to 500 years hence.

How many of those erected today will be respected and revered in a few centuries? A very paltry few.

It is the responsibility of the commercial, civic and religious leaders to foster all the arts and thus raise the standards of their respective cultural realms. Yet, today during an era of obscene wealth there appears to be vanishing few patrons of architecture for the centuries.

How do we account for this blatant disregard of their cultural responsibility?
Daniel Owen
100 years later, will you be proud of your design?
I assume, perhaps you disagree, that architecture like art proceeds by exemplary particular. That is by masterpieces. As long as someone with architectural mastery is able to create works occasionally architecture will be fine and those of the future will have structures hundreds of years old to admire.
Daniel Owen
100 years later, will you be proud of your design?

You need to realise that the advent of modern technology in the arts meant that there was a general retreat into mystery and the realms of philosophy as being the only place where technology cannot compete.

When photography rivalled painting, artists changed to painting mystery; when technology rivalled architecture, architects changed from design to creating mysteries.

When WW1 butchered a generation of men, this engendered a hatred of cultural values before WW1.

Cultural diversity became the ultimate dirty word, because "the differences between nations" had created WW1. So the Internationale Style was an intentionally non-cultural style and was to have been the birth of a brave new utopian world where cultural differences were specifically removed because "they are the cause of wars".

This is of course nonsense, but to a shell-shocked post-WW1 world, this glorious ideal was rationale enough.

Today, several generations since WW1, the reality of these utopian social-engineering disasters is the unintentional creation of self-sustaining anti-social behaviour.

Today, we now know that "cultural diversity," far from being the world's worst nightmare, is in fact its brightest hope for the future.
Frank John Snelling
100 years later, will you be proud of your design?
Well, I can't seem to find a universal answer to this question.

As stated in previous responses, we are all affected by the concept of change, and I am no different; however, I believe each person remains him/herself in essence through time. Therefore, every architect will still have this connection to their projects.

From a personal satisfaction point of view, my answer would be yes, I will still feel proud, even if I dislike (and by dislike, I mean in style, functionality, and all other criterias this project in, say, 10 years, or if it I wouldn't have become the person/architect I am now, if not for the experience I've gone through in these 10 years, and this project is one of them.
Mohammed Kanakri
100 years later, will you be proud of your design?
Dear all,

I was reading this article and thought you might like to read it too,- M

"When in Rome ...

... don't listen to the Romans. Especially when they burn models of your building and call it a cesspit. Richard Meier tells Steve Rose about his controversial new museum:

Steve Rose
Monday May 1, 2006

When it comes to high-profile public architecture, Richard Meier is about as safe a pair of hands as you could hope for. For the past four decades, he has been turning out restrained but conspicuous buildings that speak of pristine sophistication. He is the height of good taste. Meier seems to have decided very early on in his career that there is no architectural problem that can't be solved through some composition of simple geometric forms, executed in huge sheets of glass, blank surfaces, grids of enamelled steel panels - and no colours except white. Always white.

To his admirers, Meier has the most consistent portfolio of any architect alive; to his detractors, the most repetitive. You can identify one of his buildings in an instant, yet they tend to go with everything. This has made him the ultimate centrepiece architect: he has work in almost every major city, from Barcelona to Atlanta to Paris to Frankfurt to Los Angeles - the latter being the location of his colossal $1bn Getty Centre, the sort of commission most architects this side of the Renaissance can only fantasise about.

Currently, Meier finds himself at the centre of an almighty controversy. His new Ara Pacis Museum is the first significant structure to go up in Rome's historic centre since Mussolini's time, and as such it has attracted a great deal of attention, mostly negative. Its enemies have likened it variously to a petrol station, a pizzeria and a giant coffin. Vittorio Sgarbi, a celebrity art critic and former deputy culture minister, publicly set fire to a model of the building, and recently declared it "an indecent cesspit by a useless architect". He has talked of forming an anti-Meier committee. The day before the museum's opening last week, Gianni Alemanno, the rightwing candidate for Rome's mayorship, pledged that he would tear the museum down and put it up somewhere in the suburbs, should he be elected.

Public projects inevitably have their detractors, but the Ara Pacis Museum has been caught in a perfect storm of politics, culture, history and nationalism. The prospect of any new construction within Rome's city walls was sure to be met with vehement opposition. The success of the preservationist lobby in keeping Rome's ancient centre ancient is evident to - and validated by - the millions of tourists drawn to the Eternal City every year. The construction of the Ara Pacis Museum was delayed repeatedly by demands for archaeological digs of the site.

But equally contentious has been the fact that this building is the work of a foreigner. In about 1999, the then mayor of Rome, Francesco Rutelli, commissioned a swathe of high-profile projects to rejuvenate the city, starting with the Rome Auditorium, a new concert venue by homeboy Renzo Piano. Britain's Zaha Hadid is currently at work on Maxxi, a gallery of 21st-century art just outside the city centre. Odile Decq, from France, is extending another Roman gallery, and Dutch-born Rem Koolhaas is turning the old general market into Rome's answer to Covent Garden. Other big names, such as Norman Foster and IM Pei, are at work across Italy, but the fact that Rutelli personally invited Meier to design the Ara Pacis Museum - rather than holding a competition - made this different. Last September, 35 Italian architects wrote an open letter demanding more support for home-grown talent, and complaining about the "invasion" of foreign designers, who they believed were ill-equipped to handle Italy's unique context.

It was a different story last time Meier worked here. His Jubilee Church, a striking assembly of giant curved planes, opened in 2003 to universal approval. But the location was an isolated housing quarter well outside central Rome and, more importantly, the client was the Church, an institution few Italians will openly criticise.

The Ara Pacis Museum concerns both public funds and a national treasure. The Ara Pacis itself is a finely carved sacrificial altar, built in 13AD to mark Emperor Augustus' victories in Spain and Gaul. Originally it stood to the south-west of the city, on the Campus Martius, but was only fully restored by Mussolini in the late 1930s. In his zeal for appropriating Rome's Imperial heritage, Mussolini moved the Ara Pacis to its present location next to Augustus's derelict tomb - where Il Duce imagined he would also be interred. He recruited Vittorio Morpurgo to design a simple box-like building around it, which has been gradually falling into disrepair.

Last week Romans got their first chance to judge Meier's design for themselves - or at least the parts of it that are finished. Even the opening date has been the subject of controversy: it is unlikely to be completed before September, but the official opening took place on April 21, Rome's official birthday (as well as four weeks before the mayoral elections).

On the morning before the opening, as the rightwing candidate was pledging to tear the museum down and protesters dressed as gladiators prepared to march on the building, Meier jetted in from China to oversee the many finishing touches. Despite his fatigue, the white-haired 72-year-old still has the energy for an enthusiastic but relaxed advance tour. As he shuffles through the hectic, dusty space, stopping to sign autographs and pose for photographs with the construction workers, local politics seem far from his mind.

When we speak, I ask him what he made of the controversy. "I think in Europe there's more discussion about public buildings," he says. "It's not a private building, it's a public building, and therefore people who are running for office use it as a way to discredit the people who are for it. It becomes a political football."

Did it bother him? "No. You just do your work. You do what you think you should do."

The museum, which houses only one exhibit, is a relatively simple structure. The altar could not be moved from its original position between a historic wall and a busy road along the bank of the Tiber, so the options were limited. Like most of Meier's buildings, his solution could easily be dismissed as a big white box - but there is more to his big white boxes than meets the eye. The building is based on the scale and proportions of the surrounding ancient structures and the altar itself, Meier explains, and despite what his detractors say, he has given great thought to the museum's context.

"It kind of embraces everything that's around it," he says, standing in the museum's terraced corner entrance, which will eventually contain a pond fed by a wall of water. "I wanted to make it a public destination, a new piazza space in Rome that people can come to whether they're going to the museum or not, and just sit in the sun - that's what Romans like to do. It's bringing life to what was not a vital or active area before."

It's not really all white, either. Meier has been judicious with his use of travertine, the porous local stone from which much of Rome is built. Running from the entrance plaza deep into the building's interior is a huge wall clad in rough slabs of it, in which fossilised plants and leaves can still be seen. The floor of the main hall, housing the Ara Pacis itself, is a polished version of the same stone, while the sides and the ceiling of the main, 13m-high volume that houses the Ara Pacis are predominantly glass.

Meier says that he wanted nothing to detract from the monument itself, and he has undeniably achieved that. The busy road on the other side of the glass is inaudible, and while the room is flooded with light, direct sunlight will hardly ever hit the Ara Pacis. Meier's knack for discreet detailing and spatial economy means there is a minimum of clutter. The building also houses a cafe with a roof terrace, plus a lecture theatre, offices and other back rooms. But it all comes across as a coherent and animated space, combining unexpected views with clear navigability.

These are Meier's skills, and most critics' objections centre on the way he has chosen to dress his spaces, rather than the spaces themselves. Where contemporary architects have explored more challenging realms of visual and spatial form, Meier represents the old school. He may once have been part of the New York Five, grouped with radicals such as Peter Eisenman and Michael Graves, but his work is directly linked to the purism of the original European modernists such as Le Corbusier and the Bauhaus (he worked for Marcel Breuer as a young man).

His style may be a relic of the 1980s as far as current thinking is concerned, but as he approaches the end of his career, Meier must be thinking of his legacy - especially in a place such as Rome, where past architectural fashions are charted on a scale of centuries rather than decades. More than most architects, he seems to be intent on amassing a body of work that is durable, distinctive and definitive of its era. So when he brushes off the political controversies, construction delays and style debates of the day, you can genuinely believe that these are trivial matters to him. Meier is building for eternity, and the more doggedly he sticks to his formula, the more important his work becomes."
Maria De Morais


This site is adjusted only for landscape mode. Please rotate your device for properly using
We are sorry, we are still working on adjusting for Metro IE. Please use another browser for the best experience with our site.