Of course, the top story in recent weeks has been the sudden death of Dame Zaha Hadid, who passed away last week in Miami. At just 65 years of age, and at the height of her powers as an architect, the news of Hadid’s passing was a shock to many and unsurprisingly was met with grief from many of our readers. Read on to see what tributes those readers left, along with opinions on other stories from recent weeks.
The Legacy of Zaha Hadid
Understandably, many readers felt compelled to leave their condolences in our comments section. You can read all of the tributes left by readers here (and other tributes from significant figures around the world of architecture here), but below are some of the most heartfelt and interesting:
Wow... awful news. I am not a fan of parametric architecture in general, but loved Zaha Hadid's work... the world has lost a great talent. - labattsbleu
I didn't think I'd be so shaken by her loss, but I truly am. RIP Zaha - top_swatta
From another woman architect of the same generation I hope you are resting in peace and guiding us all from above. You were an inspiration to those of us who fought and continue to fight for good design and functional spaces, and who came up through the ranks of a male dominated industry. Your life will inspire architects for many generations to come. - Janet
Love you and your projects! Rest in peace. I promise, one day, I will be like you! - hungchimau
We simply were not prepared for that. Farewell Ma'am. - Monir Hasan (মনির হাসান)
However, aside from these tributes, one very interesting (and unexpected) result of Hadid’s death was that many readers revisited what was perhaps her most controversial moment: the infamous 2014 interview where she said that it was “not her duty” to concern herself with the safety of construction workers in Qatar. With the benefit of hindsight and the respect incited by her recent passing, the conversation took on a more measured tone than it had while she was alive. Perhaps the most interesting response was this comment by Auguste Comte:
Even asking this question pushes the lens away from the systematic nature of such occurrences. It's bad politics to press the virtue of individuals, the complicity of individuals being brought to the forefront subtly works to de-emphasise the need for large scale change, it's also quite tactless. Because really, we don't need more sentimentality and extravagant design isn't killing workers but rather cost cutting measures that trade concern for the health and safety of workers with externalities, which is a vastly more important phenomena than the ethical responsibilities (that couldn't even be foreseen) of the architect.
This is not meant to deny that Hadid could design conservatively in order to avoid a possible death on site. What's being said is that there is no way to foresee the specific health and safety standards that will be put into effect. With this in mind the relative effectiveness of her personal actions and the long term state of affairs of the two approaches and the structural outcomes following each attitude is what's at stake - either architects try to minimise any possible harm as one extreme, where the structural standards stay the same or may well even degenerate(!) depending on the extremity in implementation of this approach or architects be allowed to design how they see fit with emphasis on the safety of workers constantly being ramped up. It's disingenuous in the face of this colossal displays of human creativity to think safety on site is static and can't be improved, as though creativity dies at just the moment the interests of workers are concerned. This entire discussion is just a subtle attempt at shifting the blame through emphasis of one approach that comes with the tacit de-emphasising of another. - Auguste Comte
The complex financing of the US Bank Stadium
Our story about the architecture of the Minnesota Vikings’ new $1.1 billion home, the US Bank Stadium, sparked an extended debate between two commenters about the building’s financing and whether the people of Minneapolis would end up getting a raw deal in terms of taxes being used to finance the building. Below are some interesting excerpts from their conversation, but to anyone interested in Minneapolis or the funding of such large-scale construction projects in general, I highly recommend reading the whole conversation here.
"...and thus don't have to look away from the action." Think about that. Last game I was at the spectators were either face planted in their wifi device or staring at the big screen in order to actually see the plays. I know, “it's all about the experience…” Ironically, the locals paying for this live in city ranked third in the US’s 'worst' cities for housing. - Walt
The U.S. Bank Stadium has already generated $1 billion in development in the Downtown East beyond the stadium itself (and $100's of millions more close by that are in progress or soon to start - from the Krause Anderson Block to the Guthrie ramp and projects in between).
As much of the private sector development is being done with tax increment financing, it will be a few years before the tax revenue stream will be fully captured/realized by city, county and state taxing authorities but is fixed at dates certain.
From an area that was at risk of descending further into an urban blight being transformed to a major expansion of the downtown core - the new U.S. Bank Stadium is already responsible for a substantial building expansion and the creation of future new tax revenue streams.
While it is generally true that such public financing programs fail to realize promised returns on investment, in the case of U.S. Bank Stadium, the new development and associated tax streams are already locked in - with construction programs started (and some almost completed) - the U.S. Bank Stadium is already a success in terms of attracting development and it has yet to open its doors.
The U.S. Bank Stadium is already a stadium apart when compared to other public/private development programs precisely because it has converted on such promises. - SirCollins
I am not assuming what you or anyone writes is accurate so I will not conclude it is misleading one way or another. Based on my consensus, connecting the dots, drawing multiple links together, critical thinking, etc., my opinion is the taxpayer is on the hook for $400+ million. Of the balance, U.S. Bank reportedly paid $220 million… so yes, their financial status is relevant. I do not think bartering a new deal is simplistic. As per the charts, one illustrated housing values relative to the year 2000 and was seasonally adjusted over the term.
I'll offer another opinion; the exponential growth of virtual reality will revert more live view 'spectators' of sports and other entertainment venues into the comfort of their homes or local pubs long before stadiums such as this are paid in full or meet mtbf. - Walt
Remember, these are only excerpts from a very long debate, and are not meant to be read as a coherent back-and-forth as presented above. The full debate is available in the comments here.
The Value of Form in the Digital Age
Usually in these comment round-ups, we try to only include comments that were left on recent articles. However, this comment on the 2014 article “The Depreciating Value of Form in the Age of Digital Fabrication” was too good not to share. The article itself argues that the complex forms made possible by digital fabrication may soon be victims of their own popularity, losing their intrinsic value as they become more common and the skill required to make them decreases. But commenter Captain Zero disagreed with the article’s ideas:
While incisive criticism is essential to maintain the vitality of "digital fabrication" as a practice, this opinion seems to be written by someone who has understood the scope of digital fabrication by browsing through the front pages of design blogs in 2007.
I think the author is confusing a very small slice of formal exploration and direct-to-model 3D printing... with the body and principles of digital fabrication and how they are driving how design is taught and practiced.
Digital fabrication is not driven by an obsession to eliminate "tolerances" and some maniacal, control-freakish need to *replicate* a digital model in the real world. Any student who plops out a one-piece 3D print of some wacko swoopy building in lieu of actually *making* a model is usually taken to task, roundly criticized for mistaking representation with understanding... and has been for at least the decade I've seen 3D prints at crits. A decade! "Voronoi" was mocked in academic settings as a packaged, tacky, off-the-shelf effect a decade ago!
If anything, digital fabrication is one of the only things happening *IN* school that is allowing students to forge some kind of connection with professional practice, and to develop a personal praxis of making. What does material thickness really mean? What can and can't a material do? What is structural and what is not? How do I visualize a complex assembly coming together, then give other people instructions for delivering it? How do I manage a workflow that is primarily information? What are the things that *actually* happen when we assume our tolerances are zero? How do I learn to yell at a plastics supplier over the phone when he's giving me the runaround over why my mirrored acrylic all came scratched? - Captain Zero
Santiago Calatrava’s WTC PATH Station
Readers are still discussing the success (or otherwise) of Calatrava’s recently-opened transportation hub at the World Trade Center site - and, it seems as more images and stories emerge, the commentary is becoming increasingly incisive. In our latest story, a project post from March with a large selection of images, one comment from HeywoodFloyd stood out:
The space has an undeniable sense of monumentality, but you can't help but think that a similar experience could have been arrived at through much more economical means. Any sense of serenity will surely be obliterated by the retail and associated signage currently planned for the perimeter of the space since what we are talking about here is essentially a mall to connect the ground level with the PATH platforms. The finishing on the underside of the escalators and on the ribs seems to be an unfolding disaster, similar to the issues with his project in Valencia. The asymmetry of the exterior in relation to the rationalism of the interior is incongruous at best, this is basically an object building shoe-horned into a fabric site. In the end the $4 billion price tag can't all be Calatrava's fault, but his needlessly complex design with it's massively scaled custom fabricated structural members certainly didn't help any. - HeywoodFloyd
Keep the debate flowing! Please post any responses to these topics in the comments below.