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View Poll Results: If you would be constructing a skyscraper, would you spend money to hire a starchitect?
No, starchitects are wasted money 12 52.17%
Yes, starchitects are always a good choice 11 47.83%
Voters: 23. You may not vote on this poll

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Old January 10th, 2013, 03:27 PM   #1
Kanto
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Starchitects: good investment or money thrown away for nothing?

I made this thread to address a matter that puzzles me for a very long time. What are starchitects good for? They have reputation and reputation costs a lot of money. But isn't this money just wasted away for nothing? I have seen buildings by normal architects which look far better than anything most of the starchitects have ever designed so in my opinion investing into a starchitect is a bad idea and wastes money which could always be used better for something else

but I want to know what other forumers think so please vote
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Old January 10th, 2013, 04:18 PM   #2
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Essentially, a starchitect allows for you the be gauranteed a good design, and while local firms are often more than capable to create amazing designs, it can often be iffy. Projects by starchitects also tend to garner international attention, while a local firms won't. This attention might be something the developer might want, as it allows more prospective tenants of the structure to know about the development. And when it comes to extremely large buildings, (600+m) you almost have to go with a few select firms as they are the only firms that are capable of designing buildings on that scale.

Should have added an option in te poll "in certain cases, starchitects can be good"
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Old January 10th, 2013, 05:45 PM   #3
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Though normal architects have designed supertalls before. For example Ken Gardner designed one of the proposals for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center, which in my opinion looked far better than anything Libeskind, Gehry, Calatrava, Hadid or Herzog De Meuron ever designed.
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Old January 10th, 2013, 06:01 PM   #4
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There is something better than Turning Torso, 80 South Street and WTC Transportation Hub?
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Old January 10th, 2013, 06:22 PM   #5
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Yup, there's much that is far better
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Old January 10th, 2013, 06:37 PM   #6
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I have not seen anything better yet. But it might be a question of taste. If the design of an unknown architect is so good, that everybody loves it, and that every other architect gets inspired (!), than you have a great building for little money. And the world will have a new star architect.
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Old January 10th, 2013, 07:34 PM   #7
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let's take the example of LONDON 2012,

The olympic pool / aquatics center would've got the same attention being designed by Zaha Hadid or by me simply because it's an important venue of the olympics.

We already know how many and how important were the flaws in the design of Zaha Hadid, still they chose it because it was her. So in this case it WAS a waste of money.

On the other hand we have the olympic stadium (I dunno if we can consider Populous a starchitects firm though, but let's say we do). Populous is a huge name in the industry, you know you'll have a great design, and I don't like it very much aesthetically but that doesn't matter. In this case it clearly was worth the price.


So I'd say it depends on wich starchitect we're talking about, i think people such as ZAHA HADID, SANTIAGO CALATRAVA, or FRANK GHERY are nowadays a waste of money, I believe, us architects, just like actors, are only as good as our last design. So if the few last jobs are deceiving people should totally look back to the local or less well known firms. Who knows, maybe they'll discover a new starchitect or a Pritzker winner
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Old January 10th, 2013, 10:25 PM   #8
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for the record, one of my favourite spaces in Toronto is a space designed by Caltrava. Architects become famous for a reason, and while they are expensive, they always produce good designs. whether that be BIG, Libinskind (sometimes his works are iffy), Zaha Hadid, Gehry, Caltrava, I.M. Pei, Foster, or Alsop.
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Old January 11th, 2013, 02:11 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by master-chivas View Post
l
We already know how many and how important were the flaws in the design of Zaha Hadid, still they chose it because it was her. So in this case it WAS a waste of money.

On the other hand we have the olympic stadium (I dunno if we can consider Populous a starchitects firm though, but let's say we do). Populous is a huge name in the industry, you know you'll have a great design, and I don't like it very much aesthetically but that doesn't matter. In this case it clearly was worth the price.


So I'd say it depends on wich starchitect we're talking about, i think people such as ZAHA HADID, SANTIAGO CALATRAVA, or FRANK GHERY are nowadays a waste of money, I believe, us architects, just like actors, are only as good as our last design. So if the few last jobs are deceiving people should totally look back to the local or less well known firms. Who knows, maybe they'll discover a new starchitect or a Pritzker winner
Good post and points. I completely concur!
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Old January 11th, 2013, 10:15 AM   #10
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I think it's a hit-or-miss situation, so I went with "wasted money". Some of these architects became famous for their style and they do nothing to depart from it. Rather than adapting to the style of the city/location, they just do the stuff they like. Libeskind just puts triangles on everything, Gehry slaps wavy metal and Hadid turbosmooths everything to death. I can't say it's always wrong, because the WTC reconstruction is pretty good, but unless it's a competition where a winner is chosen, these people will most likely do the same thing they always do.
Well, with that being said, I think that Beekman Place (8 Spruce) looks great, but Gehry isn't doing tens of projects at once, so he's a different case
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Old January 11th, 2013, 04:47 PM   #11
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Starchitects tend to do flashy designs. Their fees are high, and their designs are generally expensive to build.

From a client's standpoint, it can be worth it if the flashy design increases rents enough, or if the project will benefit from being an icon or at least flashy, like a museum.

But even in that context they often miss. Every city has buildings that were intended to be iconic but haven't become so. As for office buildings, a flashy design can not only not add to the rents, but even lower them...most tenants like spaces that allow efficient floorplans, and ideally repeat floor-to-floor, and swoopy shapes can take away from that.
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Old January 11th, 2013, 04:49 PM   #12
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I agree with Kopacz.

But in addition to what he writes I believe it depends very much on what project is to be built, the buildings purpose as well as who the builder is.

If it's a big project like an airport or trainstation or a big stadium or a big scyscraper then you naturally can't just go around in your neighborhood and knock at the door from an architect and ask hire him to build that. You'll need a company with experience and the manpower and money to do it and to reduce financial risks in such a large investment you'll also need a company with a certain financial background in case anything goes wrong and compensations have to be paid.

And if one wants to make money by selling or renting out expensive luxury appartements or as a hotel chain etc then a star architects name will of course also help advertising or raising the value.

One common mistake though, that I believe building owners often make is that they just don't pick architects very wisely.
With a star architect naturally one often pretty much knows and can expect what one will get. But since builders not rarely simply aren't experienced or educated enough to forsee common problems it's not rarely the case that the building owners themselves want and ask for "wrong" or "bad things" and later find out that their expectations and dreams were unwise or flawed or counterproductive.

Attempting to copying a beautiful looking building or building style from southern California or Texas or southern Europe for example to someplace up north in a Scandinavian Country or Alaska or Russia with their awfully cold and dark winters and meters of snow, should most probably - maybe even almost inevitably - lead into problems with useabillity or exxagerated heating costs etc.
In those cases when such things go wrong, it's of course also the architects fault but not only and to a part also the own responsibillity of the building owner to better make up their mind and pursue a more reasonable and realistic or a more practical approach than just chasing some idealistic style or prototype.

And just like any architect even star architects naturally have their limitations in terms of experience and taste and architectural styles they master and have their own personal cultural background and living experiences from countries and climates and cultures they know and lived or grew up in.

So I'd also say it's mostly a hit or miss situation with very few exceptions of very thoroughly working flexible and openminded architects that tend to "aim better" and more more carefully thoughtfully than others. Some but surely not many of those are ones that end up as star architects, simply because star architects tend to get famous and become stars for their personal styles rather than for flexibility and adaptability.
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Old January 11th, 2013, 05:55 PM   #13
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The issue is that some smaller cities end up with the lesser designs. Some of the stuff for these cities can be a bit copy paste. Like some of Calatrava's bridges. If I were an architect I would save my best designs for the more important cities as well.
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Old January 11th, 2013, 08:03 PM   #14
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Starchitecture: As pragmatic as paying extra for designer jeans and bottled water. Starchitects have to rely on branding and PR, and celeb status isn't a guarantee of functioning architecture. Some starchitecture is indeed beautiful, but a celeb architecture isn't a prerequisite of good architecture. I guess starchitecture is guaranteed to have a high budget, but then a high budget always helps.

Gehry has his crack baby scrawls translated by a CATIA program
Libeskind has Gehry's scrawls, but adds a straight edge
Zaha Hadid throws a firecracker into a toilet and replicates the result
Robert AM Stern emulates the imagery of Jane Austen novels and charges extra for it
Eisenman talks about Derrida and postmodernism--no one should care

The sad thing is that architecture SHOULD be more than just aesthetics. With celeb architecture (or celeb anything), aesthetics are the overwhelming, and often only consideration.

Furthermore any building beyond the bare minimum requires a team of architects, many of whom are talented and dedicated, but are expendable and on short term contracts.
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Old January 14th, 2013, 01:51 AM   #15
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Look at New York. Many non-starchitect buildings are terribly designed hotels and humdrum residential towers with exposed concrete floor plates. Sure, starchitects are overrated, but the alternative is far worse.
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Old January 14th, 2013, 03:19 AM   #16
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It's the same everywhere, when you want to make yourself a name in the world (as an investor, company, city, etc.), it's always easier to associate yourself with a world renowned entity.
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Old January 14th, 2013, 01:48 PM   #17
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Isn't the best way to secure a good design to have an open competition, like they did for the Herald Tribune building, and it seems for most of the big supertall projects in China? Then you can just pick the best one, which might be from a starchitect or might not. If you just hire one firm to do your building, you are stuck with whatever they come up with.
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Old January 14th, 2013, 02:12 PM   #18
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What is the price of projects by starchitects?
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Old January 14th, 2013, 10:32 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The seventh shape View Post
Isn't the best way to secure a good design to have an open competition, like they did for the Herald Tribune building, and it seems for most of the big supertall projects in China? Then you can just pick the best one, which might be from a starchitect or might not. If you just hire one firm to do your building, you are stuck with whatever they come up with.
Most clients would rather hire someone whose philosophy and skills they admire, who has the right fees, then work together to arrive at the best design. That means considering options, factoring in the owner's ongoing analysis about what they want to build and when, and so on.

A lot of SSCers would be surprised that architects and their engineers don't really drive the process. Most developers will direct their design teams on the basics at every step...the value stuff that most effect cost/value/risk, like maximizing square footage, spacing columns to fix the owner's idea of who tenants might be, location of restrooms, how retail integrates at the base, and so on. They'll also get into finishes and other detailing at some level, possibly making the most minute decisions.

Much of that is based on contractor input. The contractor (like my firm) is usually on board by early/mid design on any sizeable challenging project. We provide more realistic projections about cost, schedule, and constructability, which help the owner make decisions about design, timing, etc.

Giving an architect, and worse a starchitect, too much freedom is a recipe for a cost problem. It's common (when done wrong) to go nearly all the way through design and be 20% off about what it'll cost to build.
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Old January 17th, 2013, 11:53 AM   #20
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Hiring a starchitect is like buying a Porsche. To me it means that you're willing to spend top dollar on something that generally looks like it was designed by a Cesar Pelli, a Zaha Hadid or a Rem Koolhaas. Nothing wrong with it, but to me it's more about trophy design then it is about architecture, really.
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