26 August 2007

fleeting fortunes of corporate architectural taste

Just read a nice little feature over at Archinect by Owen Hatherley on the London architecture of Richard Seifert. Hatherley smartly juxtaposes Seifert's glory days of the 1960s with Norman Foster's present dominance of the London corporate architecture scene. He questions the long-term appeal of Foster and suggests that perhaps twenty years from now, Foster's buildings will face the same fate of corporate obsolescence and demolition that threatens Seifert's buildings today. An interesting and prescient reminder of how the tides of architectural taste can be ruthlessly fleeting. Hatherley's piece nevertheless leaves one question unasked: If, in twenty years, the early 21st century oeuvre of Lord Foster will have fallen out of vogue, only to be replaced by the latest glitzy form of corporate architectural excess, will I find myself perversely fond of the Fosterian monuments that I so presently disdain? In other words: imagining into the future, will Foster's works acquire the kind of retro-chic appeal that I (and Hatherley, I presume, judging by the rather heroic portrayal of Seifert's architecture in the article's accompanying photographs) are so drawn to? A disturbing thought!

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