Upcoming Projects: The Reluctant Icon

David Cohn 

When bringing together a group of building projects dedicated to a common program, as when bringing together a group of friends, one hopes at least to provoke an interesting conversation, both among the projects themselves and in reference to their most significant models and precedents. In the twelve museums gathered here, we find this conversation turning around several themes. Common to most is a concern for the different roles of the museum as an icon, acting as a protagonist in relation to the city and its geographic setting. And as a key part of this question, all take up different positions in the debate between expressive restraint and more gestural, dynamic forms. Other issues include, for one, the architectural impact of questions of environmental conservation, in which the museum can become a laboratory for investigation. Secondly, the response of the museum as a built artifact to the increasing power of digital media, a response that often seems to be refracted through ideas of transparency, luminescence, pixelation and other strategies that transform the building surface into a screen-like field of attraction. And thirdly, the role of the museum as a public forum, in which art instead of religion or commerce is the pretext for public mingling, or at least for a reified homage to this collective spirit. In its most extreme manifestations, the museum is presented as a metaphor or substitute for the city itself. And lingering behind all of these preoccupations is the competition for protagonism between the building and the artworks it displays and serves...

Included Tags: