Monday, September 27, 2010

Norman Foster's Masdar development featured in the New York Times

Have you picked up a copy of Deyan Sudjic's new biography of architect Norman Foster? If not, this article from Sunday's New York Times should definitely pique your interest in the book. While NORMAN FOSTER: A LIFE IN ARCHITECTURE is primarily a professional biography, it also discusses Foster's idealism, design aesthetic and the Masdar development that received so much attention from the Times. Go here to read the full article, and check out a brief excerpt below!

Back in 2007, when the government here announced its plan for “the world’s first zero-carbon city” on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, many Westerners dismissed it as a gimmick — a faddish follow-up to neighboring Dubai’s half-mile-high tower in the desert and archipelago of man-made islands in the shape of palm trees.

Designed by Foster & Partners, a firm known for feats of technological wizardry, the city, called Masdar, would be a perfect square, nearly a mile on each side, raised on a 23-foot-high base to capture desert breezes. Beneath its labyrinth of pedestrian streets, a fleet of driverless electric cars would navigate silently through dimly lit tunnels. The project conjured both a walled medieval fortress and an upgraded version of the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland.

Well, those early assessments turned out to be wrong. By this past week, as people began moving into the first section of the project to be completed — a 3 ½-acre zone surrounding a sustainability-oriented research institute — it was clear that Masdar is something more daring and more noxious.

Norman Foster, the firm’s principal partner, has blended high-tech design and ancient construction practices into an intriguing model for a sustainable community, in a country whose oil money allows it to build almost anything, even as pressure grows to prepare for the day the wells run dry. And he has worked in an alluring social vision, in which local tradition and the drive toward modernization are no longer in conflict — a vision that, at first glance, seems to brim with hope.

Continued here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is a gimmick. Even they admit it can never be built, no demand.

Masdar has announced that despite 3 hard years of trying, they could only find one single client to lease 1000 m2:

In a planned development of 6 million m2, that’s a disaster.

Apparently there simply is no demand for this “green city” with zillions of unoccupied office buildings in nearby Dubai.

What now? Leave the one school building they already built, and wait a few years for the property market to recover (the school’s cool, it’s occupied by some cute and crazy kids, see here: )

You can see the desolate empty plot as well.

Other articles which chronicle the fall of Masdar are here:

One commenter pointed out how every single claim of Masdar City has been discarded (zero carbon, zero waste, no cars, etc). There’s even a funny photo op picture of German leader Merkel filling her car up with gas at the one gas station there in this so-called car-free, zero-carbon city).