- In this piece from 2013, Thomas Frank considers, amongst other things, the work of Richard Florida:
The creative class has never been more screwed. Books about creativity have never been more popular. What gives?
- Relatedly, this 2012 article by Frank discusses another adjective widely used in city-branding and ‘placemaking’ – ‘vibrant’:
The creative ones are to be ghettoized in a “scene” which it is their job to make “vibrant,” thereby pumping up real estate prices and inspiring creative-class onlookers. But what of the people no one is interested in attracting and retaining? Millions of Americans go through their lives in places that aren’t vibrant, in areas that don’t have a “scene,” in jobs that aren’t rewarding, in industries that aren’t creative; and their experiences are, almost by definition, off limits for artistic contemplation.
- At the same point in time, Richard Florida continued to promote his theories on the economic role of creativity.
- A self-described member of the ‘creative class’, Jack Conte discusses how his band lost $11,000 touring in 2014. (Curiously, Jack does not mention the fifteen million dollars of venture capital raised to invest in his web start-up in the same year):
We, the creative class, are finding ways to make a living making music, drawing webcomics, writing articles, coding games, recording podcasts. Most people don’t know our names or faces. We are not on magazine covers at the grocery store. We are not rich, and we are not famous.
- An extreme example of the replication of the built environment over disparate locations is the construction of a copy of the Austrian village of Hallstatt in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong. Chinese ‘duplitecture’ remains popular with journalists.
- Sharon Zukin discusses the tension between city-branding and city-living in this article from 2014 (accompanied by a city-branding quiz).
- More ‘plus ça change…’: it seems like the cultural centre designed by a celebrity architect is still very much A Thing, as is the project to colonize the world with ferris wheels. The New York Wheel is due to arrive in 2017, and in this article, Ian Jack discusses Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee (known as ‘Didi’)’s plans in Kolkata, India:
Would she, for example, pour money into the repair of the city’s many ruinous buildings? Would she mend the pavements and the tramlines so that Kolkatans could move around more pleasantly and safely? Would she curb the excesses of the car? Would she plant trees or build new riverside theatres, or declare the city’s art-deco suburbs off-limits to developers? No, none of these things. To be like London, Didi has decided that what Kolkata needs is a ferris wheel.
- Blackpool Tower. In the mid-19th century, the town of Blackpool in North West England became a booming seaside resort. In particular, it acted as an accessible destination (due to the establishment of passenger railways in the 19th century) for mill workers’ annual break from work during ‘wakes week’. One local businessman characterised the role of the town thus: “[workers] must either burst out or go to Blackpool […] they come back quietened down and ready for work again […] Blackpool stands between us and revolution”. Inspired by the Eiffel Tower, Blackpool Tower was built between 1891 and 1894.
- Elizabeth Tower (‘Big Ben’)
The name ‘Big Ben’ is often associated with the Elizabeth Tower [of the Palace of Westminster] and the Great Clock as well as the [1850s] Great Bell. It was to the Great Bell that the name originally was given.
In 1890, the U.S. Congress decided that the celebration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of America should be centered in Chicago, and accordingly, on April 9, the State of Illinois licensed the corporation known as the World’s Columbian Exposition to prepare this great event. […Civil Engineers were] called on […] to provide some distinctive feature, something to fill the relative position in the World’s Columbian Exposition that was filled by the 984 foot Eiffel Tower at the Paris Exposition in 1889. It was immediately proposed to build a tower 500 feet higher than Eiffel’s, but since this would be playing second fiddle to Eiffel’s genius, this idea was dismissed. […] Armed with completed plans and guaranteed financing, [George] Ferris approached the Columbian Exposition’s Ways and Means Committee in the spring of 1892. His ideas were treated as those of a lunatic… and he became known as “The Man with Wheels in his Head.”
From June 21st to November 6th 1893,
1,453,611 paid admissions had been received with possibly a thousand or more free trips having been given to various important people. The gross earnings were $726,805, of which $513,403 was retained by the company, giving them a profit of $395,000.
The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, designed by Frank Gehry, is an experiment in inventive 21st-century museum design. The building defines a new approach to the museum visitor experience and presents an innovative vision for viewing contemporary art in the context of a desert landscape. Currently under development, the new museum will be situated on a peninsula at the northwestern tip of Saadiyat Island adjacent to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
Designed by American architect Frank Gehry, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao building represents a magnificent example of the most groundbreaking 20th-century architecture. With 24,000 m2, of which 11,000 are dedicated to exhibition space, the Museum represents an architectural landmark of audacious configuration and innovating design, providing a seductive backdrop for the art exhibited in it.
The Museum of Contemporary Art is part of the Finnish National Gallery, the largest art museum organization in Finland
The project is the result of an architectural design competition held in 1992. The winning entry by Steven Holl Architects was selected from 516 participants and was described by the jury as “mysteriously sculpturesque in its design and sensitively innovative in its articulation of form.” Construction started in 1996 and took two years.
The recent arrest in Spain of two brothers accused of passing off forged paintings as the work of America’s greatest Modernist masters has refocused attention on the people behind an art fraud that has lasted 15 years, garnered $80 million and helped bring down New York’s oldest gallery, Knoedler & Company.
The Kunsthaus Graz opened its doors in 2003, the architectural pièce de résistance of Graz’s year as European Capital of Culture. The biomorphous building designed by Peter Cook and Colin Fournier—known locally as the Friendly Alien—has since become an attraction for art lovers and the culturally minded from all over the world. But it has also become an essential landmark in the urban identity of the city of Graz.
Louvre Abu Dhabi will be housed in a building designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Jean Nouvel.[…] The geometric lace dome was inspired by the interlaced palm leaves traditionally used as roofing material in the UAE, which results in an enchanting ’rain of light’ effect. It is 180 metres in diameter and features approximately 7000 tonnes of steel
- ‘Memorabilia’. 1980 single by pop duo Soft Cell ruminating on the nature of memory and travel:
I like little bits of glassware/Ashtrays with inscriptions/Plastic things on pencils/Bits of mass production/Postcards, pretty pictures/Little bits of plastic/Covering up the bedroom/To show you I´ve been there.
- Philharmonie de Paris. Opened in 2015, and also designed by Jean Nouvel.
…although you might not have seen anything quite this weird before, the Philharmonie effectively channels the last two decades of architecture’s more extravagant tendencies into one great lump.
First released in 1996, “Small World” is a collection of [Martin] Parr’s photos of tourists—many of them in the process of taking photos themselves—at cluttered travel destinations the world over.” […Parr explains:] “Tourism is something I constantly come back to. It doesn’t get smaller; it only gets bigger.”
An internationally renowned art museum and one of the most significant architectural icons of the 20th century, the Guggenheim Museum is at once a vital cultural center, an educational institution, and the heart of an international network of museums. […] Founded on a collection of early modern masterpieces, the Guggenheim Museum today is an ever-growing institution devoted to the art of the 20th century and beyond.
9 Apr 2008 – Zaha Hadid Architects are delighted to announce the winning design for a new museum and cultural centre in Vilnius. The new centre for international art will house pieces from collections of both the New York based Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the St. Petersburg based State Hermitage Museum.
The new Museo Soumaya in Mexico City has been described as “dazzling,” “a trapezoid in motion,” “a shiny silver cloud-like structure reminiscent of a Rodin sculpture,” and “the world’s flashiest museum.” Designed by maverick young architect Fernando Romero, it also was called “impossible to build.” The façade, in particular, presented huge challenges. If anyone could make it happen, it was owner Carlos Slim Helú, the world’s wealthiest man. Slim constructed the museum in 2008-2011 as part of the Plaza Carso, his distinctive multi-use development in Mexico City’s Polanco. Slim has noted that, since many Mexicans cannot afford to travel overseas to view art collections, he believed it was important to house a prestigious collection of international art in Mexico. […] Fernando Romero retained Gehry Technologies (GT), founded by famed architect Frank Gehry, to coordinate the complex 3-D engineering of the building.
The Taj Mahal is actually an integrated complex of structures with the white domed marble mausoleum being its most significant component. Entrusted to a board-of-architects by the Emperor Shah Jahan, the construction of the Taj Complex began about 1631 AD. The principal mausoleum was completed in 1648 AD by employing thousands of artisans and craftsmen, whereas, the outlying buildings and gardens were finished five years later in 1653 AD.