No! No! No! An awful piece of gentrification. Where is the critique AJ?
Tarek, I’m with you until you start with that favourite of the reactionary architect - attacking the supposed ‘navel gazing’ in the schools. Navel gazing or as I prefer to call it, speculative experimentation, is an essential part of developing imaginative architects. Your mentor, Mr Alsop would be turning in his grave! The attack on experimental thinking also perpetuates the myth that it is all that goes on in schools when in fact it is also backed up by some of the most innovative and rigorous technical thinking in respect of new construction techniques, digital fabrication, new materials, sustainability and much more. The pathetic excuse given for not paying interns - that they are not educated for practice - is just that, - a pathetic excuse. In my experience the products of the ‘navel gazing’ schools are eagerly snapped up by practices keen to make use of their amazing range of imaginative skills and technical knowledge. I doubt very much whether the likes of Ishigami would take on any students who where not amongst the very best in this regard so the reasons given by his office for not paying interns is highly disingenuous and misleading. It’s is up to practice, not the schools, to get it’s house in order.
One of the positive things about the Stirling Prize is that it can stimulate debate about architecture in a public context. We can restrict that debate to the usual banalities about "world class" design, or we can look at architecture in the context of wider societal issues and ask how and in what way it relates to them.
No one is saying Bloomberg is a rubbish building, but the criticism that it should not have won the prize is entirely admissible. In a time of austerity, environmental crisis and political upheaval, the message the Stirling Prize (and by extension, the profession) is sending is that good architecture is the preserve of billionaires, is a celebration of corporate values, and is a way of disguising the impact of those values on the planet by the invention of lots of expensive tekkie greenwashing.
These issues are serious and important issues which are legitimate and indeed, essential subjects of architectural debate. To suggest the discussion is nothing more than a battle of egos trivialises them. I think most architects would agree, that the jury got it wrong and that any of other other candidates would have been a more deserving winner.
I’m gobsmacked that the issues Gracie Fletcher raises are not mentioned in the article itself. I’m almost as gobsmacked that Foster’s PR department are so witless as to allow the release of a photograph like that in connection with this (or any) news story. Perhaps this PR disaster will encourage the partners to reinvest some of their windfalls in diversity training sessions.