Will the “Starchitects” Align?

Alastair Gordon, a Distinguished Fellow at the FIU School of Architecture, wrote an in-depth article for the Sunday 2/15 Miami Herald. He criticizes Miami’s expanding skyline and brings attention to the helter skelter rush of developers and their “starchitects” cashing in on the resurgence of Miami’s potential which suffered so during the recent recession. He pokes fun at the cacophony of styles, each vying to “out-modern” each other. Twisted towers “corkscrewing up to the heavens . . . lurching their way to a nervous breakdown . . . something like dueling tornadoes” with “skypools and frameless water views”. “Miami” he says, “ forges ahead in its own translucent bubble, now bursting at the seams . . .” He quotes Frank Gehry as saying, “98 percent of everything that is built and designed today is pure shit.

That may not be entirely so. Gordon does have nice things to say about the new Perez Art Museum which “ . . . foreswearing the tall and monolithic in favor of the everyday and horizontal  . . .  inspired by mangrove roots, banyan trees and the modest . . “. Or Hilario Candela’s Miami Marine Stadium (soon to be restored), “ . . . which straddles both land and sea with seamless equanimity . . . “.

Gordon quotes Joan Didion on Miami of the 80s: “buildings seemed to swim free against the sky”. And Gordon writes ”. . . early skyscrapers in New York and Chicago drew energy up from the earth”. Now, he says, “ . . . recent hi rises of Miami seem to dangle downwards, hardly touching the earth at all”. He says,”When all is finished, the whole thing will be politically incorrect, “. . . surprisingly formulaic, out-of-date and unsustainable . . . offering no public space, community services, income mix, environmental mediation,  . . .” .

What a pity. We’re in for a bleak future. And that’s not to even mention the effects of global warming. Miami is truly the canary in the mine. Those around at the turn of the next century will look back on our hubris and wonder, “what the hell were they thinking?!”.

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