The New York Times Asks: Are “Starchitects” Ruining City Skylines?

The New York Times Asks: Are “Starchitects” Ruining City Skylines?

The idea of “star architects” or “starchitects” is, if nothing else, polemic. Frank Gehry has expressed his hatred for being labeled with the term, and in 2013 we received a letter from a reader urging us to ban the phrase as it “undermines serious discourse regarding architecture and urbanism.” Now, the “starchitect” debate has reached the opinion section of the New York Times.

Following recent comments by Witold Rybczynski that “starchitects” -- often unfamiliar with the cities they are designing for -- are designing buildings that don’t fit into their surroundings, the NYT has posed the question: Are superstar architects ruining city skylines? Weighing in on the topic are Allison Arieff, an architecture and design writer for the NYT, Vishaan Chakrabarti, an associate professor at Columbia and a partner at SHoP Architects, Angel Borrego Cubero, a Madrid-based architect, and the director and producer of "The Competition," a documentary about architectural competitions, and Beverly Willis of the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation.

Arieff argues that a “handful of international superstars” can’t be blamed for “terrible buildings emerging across the globe,” while Willis expresses her loathe for the starchitect concept and asks that more attention be given to all the people and firms contributing to a design rather than highlighting a single figure. Chakrabarti, meanwhile, believes that the issue is connected to globalization and Borrego Cubero believes more attention should be paid to how architects are being selected for projects.

Read the full debate on the NYT, here.

About this author
Cite: Katie Watkins. "The New York Times Asks: Are “Starchitects” Ruining City Skylines?" 30 Jul 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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