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On Bad Architecture

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The sad fact is that those with the power to effect change are usually those with the worst taste....Bad architecture, the offspring of powerful, arrogant, tasteless people, has not only created a tacky atmosphere, like most bad choices it has proved more expensive than good choices. I suspect the same thing will prove true with the new Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago....In a city internationally known for its architecture, the contrast between what might have been and what is has had a depressing effect on the community.

Interestingly, on June 1, 1997, on a flight to Madrid after the Pritzker Architecture Prize dinner at the almost-completed [Frank Gehry-designed] Bilbao Guggenheim, I found myself seated next to Rafael del Pino, CEO of Grupo Ferrovial, the contractors for the job. He told me the construction cost was $89 million, below the $100 million budget, for a building of 256,000 square feet, or $347 per square foot. The Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art cost $46 million for 150,000 square feet, or $307 per square foot. Jay Pritzker himself, whom I had implored to intervene when [Josef Paul] Kleihues's model was unveiled, turned to me at the Bilbao dinner and said, "We could have had something like this!"

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