Vanity Fair asked 52 leading architects and critics to name the most important buildings of the last thirty years, and the results were posted earlier this week. Perhaps more interesting than the winners, though, is the voting. (It’s OK, perhaps, to vote for one of your own buildings, but really, two?)
It’s interesting to me to see one of my former teachers nominate a building by my former employer, and to see that former employer nominate Frank Gehry’s Bilbao, which you might not have guessed. When it opened, Bilbao convinced a lot of folks in our office that we had some catching up to do, and if you look at the firm’s work after 1997, a lot of complex curves start to show up.
So I won’t disagree with that being on the list, but I’m not sure I’d put it at the top, (and these days Gehry is anything but a “renegade” as the somewhat fawning article claims–he’s a well-tended brand.) Renzo Piano’s Menil Collection would be high on my list, though, and the Phoenix Public Library by Will Bruder, which seems to have disappeared from the radar screens, would have been in the top five, too.
But, uh, the most influential building of the last 30 years? How about this one. Occidental Chemical Company headquarters in Niagara Falls, NY, by Cannon Design. A passively ventilated double skin facade that beat its closest European competitor by a good dozen years.