Erm, Remind Me

Just what is it that architects do?

The jury that selected Zaha Hadid\’s groundbreaking but now hugely over-budget plan for the London Olympics aquatics centre raised worries about its cost and design before it was chosen as "the jewel in the crown" of the 2012 site.

The panel warned the building would have a timber ceiling prone to maintenance problems, and that details were so sketchy there could be unforeseen costs involved in converting it after the games. Nevertheless, officials picked her "seductive" design over five other options.

They cited "maintenance concern over [the] timber ceiling in an aggressive pool hall environment". This element of the design is now being rethought because of fears it may warp in the moist conditions. The Olympic Delivery Authority said it was testing different woods over the next six to 12 months and was "determined to keep within" the budget.

But by April this year the cost had risen from the original budget of £73m at 2004 prices to £242m, with an additional £61m for a footbridge that will form part of the building\’s roof.

Aren\’t they, umm, supposed to be the experts? The one\’s who tell you what will actually work? You know, this material does, this doesn\’t, yes, you have to use concrete for the supporting pillars, no, tofu doesn\’t cut it?

And after the design work, aren\’t they supposed to be the managers of the project? The ones who make sure it comes in on time and on budget?

On which basis Zaha Hadid would seem to be a breathtakingly incompetent architect, don\’t you think?

Update: You might find this interesting.

10 thoughts on “Erm, Remind Me”

  1. The cost of Zaha Hadid’s Glasgow transport museum has risen by almost 50%, according to reports.

    The Architecture Foundation has admitted that its new home on Southwark Street – designed by Zaha Hadid – will not be completed this autumn as planned. According to the Architects’ Journal there are suggestions that the original estimate of £2.25 million could more than double.

    Michigan State University has chosen the London-based architect Zaha Hadid as the winner of a competition to design a new art museum on the campus,..the university delayed announcing the winner of the competition because the chosen design was “seriously over budget.”

    No form there then…

  2. She also spent several years being touted as “one of the world’s greatest architects” despite the fact that the *only* building of hers ever put up was a German fire station.

    What does she do? Greases around the rich and powerful and gets her name in the press, like many high-profile but not actually very good architects. Private Eye’s “Nooks And Crannies” column has a long history of slagging off Ms. Hadid, if I recall correctly.

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    An engineer once told me there is a simple division of labour – architects design buildings but engineers build them. It follows that the architects have little idea about how buildings stay up, but they have a pretty good idea of what their peers will think is interesting.

    So the real heroes ought to be the engineers who have to look at the design and figure out how the Hell you can build the damn things.

    I bet not a single engineer was involved in the entire process. So they are experts, just not in building things.

  4. I’m not sure being an architect is required.

    Woman in male-dominated industry……tick
    Muslim…..tick
    Black (according to the PC police)…..tick

    Is she a Lesbian ?

  5. From the article in the Observer

    http://arts.guardian.co.uk/art/architecture/story/0,,2109962,00.html

    Indeed, some of the AA’s most famous output – the technophiliac fantasies of Sixties group Archigram – was also never compromised by the crude processes of construction.

    The design is perfect. Reality is at fault. We should not insult such a genius by offering her money to design real buildings.

  6. Architects used to have a solid working knowledge of construction engineering as a part of their training.

    For about 75 years, we have been seeing the ascendancy of a different class of architect, who designs buildings that are works of art and sculptural expressions. It began with Frank Lloyd Wright, whose buildings were often extremely attractive but notorious for their terrible construction and lack of basic engineering. Falling Water is sometimes referred to as Falling Over because of the inordinate amount of work that has had to be put into it just to prevent it from falling onto the creek under its own weight. Wright’s original design for the house would not have been able to support itself – it’s only standing at all because the original contractor added the necessary support and structure over Wright’s vociferous objections.

    Taking their lead from him, we now have a whole generation of ‘marquee’ architects who know nothing about structural engineering and care less, and who produce buildings that are complete nightmares for those who have to build them, maintain them and work in them. This is architecture as art, as politics, as social expression, as anything but building, and it allows for endless opportunities for vapid chattering. That’s probably why it’s become so popular. The amount of breathless crap that’s been written about FLW’s architecture, for example, would sink a ship, and it’s all twittering talk about buildings which are (for the most part) on the verge of falling down.

    llater,

    llamas

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