Power and Desire in Architecture

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Rowan Moore, former director of the Architecture Foundation, the architecture critic for The Observer, argues that hope, power, sex, and our changing relationship to the idea of home are the most powerful forces behind architecture. In Why We Build: Power and Desire in Architecture, he looks at notable projects, including the High Line, the island experiment of Dubai, the Covent Garden brothels of 18th-century London, and Daniel Libeskind’s failed design for the World Trade Center site.


Rowan Moore

Comments [5]

anna from new york

Oh barbarity.
Another illiterate, immoral bozo says that human lives are nothing and the ethics is nothing.

Aug. 28 2013 09:58 AM
Ro from Manhattan

Great subject. Great interview - but so frustrating as Mr Rowan spoke SOOOO slowly with lots of umms. No wonder Mr Lopate didn't get through all his Qs!

Aug. 27 2013 02:01 PM

I read that Hitler wanted Speer to build with an eye to how the structures would look in the future as ruins.

Aug. 27 2013 01:49 PM
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights

Does Mr. Moore's book mention the architectural commentary work of performance artist Andrea Fraser? Her work seems to make some of the same points.

See this article: Andrea Fraser, Frank Gehry, Ada Louise Huxtable, Art, Artists, Urban Renewal, Mega-Monpoly And The “Barclays” Arena

Aug. 27 2013 01:42 PM
ODLR from London

Ego certainly plays a role in the commissioning of significant civic buildings and urban-scale projects. Usually it is the patron's ego that is in play. From despots to munificent leaders, all knew the power of architecture to express and impose their vision. Daniel Libeskind is an interesting case. His failed World Trade Center design was the result, not of the patron's ego, but of Libeskind's own misguided sense of importance, (unwarranted, but still larger than that of all the other players combined). A combination of professional ineptness and arrogance sunk his project and made him the laughingstock of New York and the world. The work in Dubai is a strange mix of both showing the west that the oil-rich Arabs can not only equal their more developed counterparts but actually beat them at their own game.

Aug. 26 2013 04:14 PM

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