Beautiful simplicity

Japanese-American architect Minoru Yamasaki once said, "I have no truck for anyone who goes out and does an eclectic building...I am not interested in contemporary buildings because I have seen contemporary buildings until they came out of my ears..."

COMMENT, Design

Japanese-American architect Minoru Yamasaki once said, "I have no truck for anyone who goes out and does an eclectic building...I am not interested in contemporary buildings because I have seen contemporary buildings until they came out of my ears..."

Perhaps best known for his boxy, blocky designs of World Trade Center Towers 1 & 2 in New York City, Century Plaza Towers in Los Angeles and Torre Picasso in Madrid, Yamasaki's sentiments convey his frustration with what he saw as a growing lack of architectural integrity within the contemporary school.

As evermore futuristic designs are unveiled for projects around the Middle East, Yamasaki's message continues to resonate in the minds of architects, both known and unknown, throughout the world.

In fact, during the official launch of Nakheel's Waterfront project in February, OMA founder and Pritzker Prize-winner Rem Koolhaas-masterplanner of Waterfront City-reiterated the critique.

"Dubai is in a wonderful situation because it has so much energy, but perhaps it cannot make up its mind if it's a theme park or a city."

Coming from a man often considered one of the world's top architects, the complement of the first bit cannot help but be overshadowed by the brutality of the second.

The standard for structures that boggle the mind has become so high in Dubai that transportation infrastructure projects-i.e. bridges, motorways and even the RTA headquarters-which, in other contexts might be purely functional, are being designed by major architects to be icons in their own right.

Although the numbers are dwindling, there are still those architects who long for the minimalism of modernist buildings. There are still those who believe simple forms and clean lines are the remedy for a city searching for architectural harmony.

Because of its availability, cost and permanence, concrete may be the answer to beautiful simplicity in the Middle East. The problem, however, is not that architects have turned away from concrete, but that it's become a material meant to be used and not seen.

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