Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Art Museum Pt. 1: Reaction Round-Up

The ribbon cutting for the new Akron Art Museum will happen this Tuesday whether Akronites are ready or not. Over the weekend the architecture critics who got a preview look published their mostly positive reviews. If you are just joining us, the Museum addition is a big deal because it represents Austrian firm Coop Himmelb(l)au's first American commission. This is exciting because, well because it is, dammit.

Months before completion, the museum won an American Architecture Award. It's been getting good reviews for some time before now as well.

Of course, it's not been universally embraced. Bob Dyer included a bunch of negative reaction from Akronites as part of his predictable "Ah just a reg'lar guy" take. Mr. Boring predicts that it will look dated in five years. The News Night Akron crew took on the issue on their July 13 broadcast (which you can still catch online.) The exchange between Jody Miller (for) and Ed Esposito is nothing if not entertaining in a "Jane you ignorant slut" sort of way. The site also includes a video tour of the museum guided by Miller.

The recent national reviews include the Washington Post which includes some thoughtful musing about why a town like Akron -- not the center of the arts universe -- ends up with the first building by radical European firm. LA Times goes one better, wondering why they didn't get the first building, given lead architect Wolf Prix's ties to that city.
The WaPo piece offers a nice background on the atavistic ideology at the firm. the LAT background is more about the architecture itself. According to LAT, the firm is known for combining old and new structures, as witnessed by roof-top addition to a 19th century Vienna building pictured at right -- one of the firm's "best-known" buildings.

While WaPo and LAT liked the building throughout, the New York Times balks at the gallery space. Reading the review as a whole, one wonders if the main problem the writer has is that the museum is in Akron instead of, say, New York. In fact that review has enough problems as to be worth its own post.

Closer to home, the Louisville Courier-Journal wonders if Akron will benefit from a "Bilbao" effect, and whether there is a lesson for Louiville there as well. Finally the Beacon Journal runs a well-composed editorial arguing that the wildly incongruous building perfectly sums up the success Akron has had relative to its rust belt neighbors.


Anonymous said...

I love the new Art Museum building, but I also love Dyer's "pterodactyl on the roof" description of the cantilever. Grand Rapids Michigan has a Calder sculpture in their courthouse square that they love so much they paint a picture of it on all their street signs and all their garbage trucks. It represents their city to the outside world, but they still refer to it as "Snoopy and His Dog Dish."

Janko said...

Way to go Akron!

You deserve all the good press you are getting.

Way to be bold with your design and your future.

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