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Critical edge

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It was bound to happen sooner or later - the Ground Zero competition getting nasty, that is. It all started two weeks ago in the pages of the New York Times , where the estimable architecture correspondent Herbert Muschamp declared his support for the Rafael Viñoly team rather than Danny Libeskind. Since Muschamp was almost single-handedly responsible for a proper architectural competition taking place, he is more than entitled to his opinion. But rather than simply support Viñoly's as the better of two shortlisted designs, Muschamp went on to describe Libeskind's scheme as 'an astonishingly tasteless idea', and 'incoherent and almost crazy'. A Libeskind employee then sent out a mass email, urging all and sundry to condemn Muschamp and demand his dismissal from the NYT. Neither Danny nor wife Nina apparently knew anything about this, and the employee later apologised and withdrew the email. But things have not ended there, because some in the architectural community feel Muschamp is not being objective enough (he has worked for Viñoly), and has simply gone too far. Critics include Robert Ivy, editor of the Architectural Record and therefore the most significant figure in US architectural journalism. He has called on the NYT to appoint a second critic to balance Muschamp's predictable support for certain figures. Muschamp's response, reported in the New York Observer , is that he has praised Libeskind's work in the past, but comparing the Jewish Museum in Berlin with the Ground Zero proposal, he grades the former as 'poetry', the latter 'rhetoric'.

This seems to miss the point of both designs.

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