By Maureen Patterson
The trials and tribulations of brand-name starchitects often dominate the mainstream press. They're revered, and sometimes reviled, not unlike the Monets and Picassos of their day.
Such discourse is valid, even more so for architecture than privately held paintings that one must hunt down in museums to see. Buildings, after all, while technically owned by a certain person or organization, are in the public realm for all to experience. They're in-your-face artworks that dominate the landscapes of our existence.
Because buildings serve all of us, they also serve such constituencies as owners, architects, and end-users.
Now, thanks to advances in technology, they can also serve a more elusive constituency: the brand. The most obvious illustrations in this issue of ARCHI-TECH are the stories on the HBO Shop and M&M's World. Here, the design teams did an incredible job of shouting the brand from the proverbial mountaintop, leaving no doubt in the end-user's mind what the facility is about.
The lighting in the Chicago Board of Trade story works more subtly, expressing itself with a whisper instead of a shout, but serving the brand just the same: highlighting the elegant architecture that sets the stage for the trading business.
While some of these projects are associated with well-known architecture firms, there's not a Gehry, Koolhaas, or Piano among the bunch. No, these buildings project "Sex and the City" and a tasty candy crunch. They don't want you to see a brand-name architect, they want you to see a brand.
Just as it's valid to appreciate the artistic masterpieces that starchitects can create, it's also legitimate to recognize a new and changing aesthetic, one born of the limitless possibilities of technology and an evolving definition of what buildings can be.