Scenes, Actors, and Spectacles in Contemporary Cities
Davide Ponzini and Michele Nastasi
How and why do spectacular buildings get commissioned and procured? What are their visible urban effects? What can urban planners, architects, and policymakers learn in order to engage in more successful citymaking?
In recent years, media and critical attention has been lavished on famous architects, and the contributions of their designs to the branding of cities. The post-“Bilbao effect” global landscape is one where cities compete for the highest-profile skyscrapers, cultural projects, and high-profile developments designed by star architects whom even casual readers know by first name: Frank Gehry, Bjarke Ingels, Jean Nouvel, Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, Rem Koolhaas. Far less is known about the decision-making processes behind these projects and their subsequent urban effects.
A unique combination of urban studies and photography, Starchitecture investigates projects designed by star architects in cities including Paris, New York, Abu Dhabi, Bilbao, and the architectural microcosm of the Vitra campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany. Author Davide Ponzini and photographer Michele Nastasi seek to explain and critique a growing global condition by revealing how starchitecture has been and continues to be deployed in cities around the world. The arguments they raise are vital to understanding the urban landscapes of today, and tomorrow.
Praise for Starchitecture
"Starchitecture is a rich and mature critique of the global trend toward high-profile iconic buildings by architects-cum-brands. While this sort of 'architectural spectacularization' is defended by neoliberal urban revivalists and just as impulsively derided by anti-globalization localists, author Ponzini and photographer Nastasi offer a more nuanced perspective."
"Starchitecture displays how specific urban histories, politics and markets shape what the 'great architects' manage to do. Wonderfully presented as social science fused with photography."
—Harvey Molotch, New York University
"Impressive book, both critical and even-handed. No one is better at placing architecture in its urban context."
—Robert Beauregard, Columbia University
"Haunting images and lucid writing make Starchitecture a must read for all those interested in global urbanism."
—Yasser Elsheshtawy, United Arab Emirates University Al Ain
"Starchitecture is a fascinating exploration of an aspect of globalization which is often noted but rarely analysed or illustrated in such depth."
—Paul Finch, Architectural Review
"An incisive survey of contemporary 'spectacular' architecture. The book offers A highly appealing, and all too rare, combination of insightful narrative and forensic image."
—Donald McNeill, Western Sydney University
"Nastasi’s photography is broadly urbanistic and humanistic. Here the city is a social organism, not a depopulated abstraction, where new architecture creates uplifting and meaningful environments. There is a sense of revelation in his vision of the global city as harmonious and profoundly humane."
—Gary Van Zante, MIT MUSEUM Curator