Itâ€™s impossible to put Zaha Hadidâ€™s work in a box. For that matter, a circle or a square wonâ€™t accommodate the noted architectâ€™s designs. She thinks moreÂ elliptically, like a paisley-oozing psychedelic light show.
Hadid has been given the opportunity to work her magic at MSU, where she was awarded the contract to design the new $40-plus mill-ion Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at the edge of campus. After a few fits and starts, including going back to the drawing board, the groundbreaking has been projected for March 16. (Read this New York Times’ article on the award competition.)
An article in the December 28 New Yorker by author John Seabrook shows why the noted London architect designs buildings without the customary square doors and windows let alone hallways or traditional entrances or exits. Seabrook meets her for lunch at the Mercer hotel in Soho, and it’s there she gives more than a cursory glance to the chips that come with her sandwich. (Read about Hadid in the New York Times.)
The MSU modern art museum, when it opens in 2012, will be only the third building designed by Hadid that has been completed in the United States. Hadid, who is considered a mover and shaker in architectural circles, has only had 13 buildings completed overall . Scores of others are under development.
Her buildings are art unto themselves, and you can expect the interior of the new Broad building to compete with the art itself. Some of her designs would put Dali to shame, and that can be a challenge. One reason construction was delayed was so that the exterior could be reconfigured to withstand harsh Michigan winters and the interior redone so art could actually be displayed.
The New Yorker article explains how computer modeling helped move Hadidâ€™s designs from â€œsharp angles of her early Malevich-inspired designsâ€¦to more biomorphic shapes.â€ Think odd prehistoric fish or maybe an amoeba or two. (Visit Hadid’s website here.)
The author describes her most recently completed work, an art museum (Maxxi in Rome), by saying: â€œThere is no main faÃ§ade and no real front or backâ€¦the structure is made of crossed strands like a tangle of fettuccine.â€ (Read about the Maxxi here.) I hope MSU gets a tortellini look or maybe a Chinese fortune cookie.
The MSU art Museum will cost in the neighborhood of $45 million, with the Broads’ providing $28 million. This past week, they added $2 million to their original kitty.
Everyone associated with the project hopes the Museum will help define the city and give it worldwide recognition. Earlier this year, Lansing City Pulse writer Larry Cosentino described the exterior of the Museum as a â€œdiner created by an extra-terrestrial.â€Â (Read the most recent update from the Pulse here.)
The New Yorker writer describes Hadid as â€œtemperamentalâ€ and exhibiting â€œeccentricity.â€ Hopefully, the final design will exhibit some of those characteristics. MSU, sadly, is in need of architecture that is defined by something other than the big box, but up until now, thatâ€™s been the look on campus.
Hadidâ€™s work gives the Greater Lansing area a chance to redeem itself after it turned down a sculpture of a left-handed catcherâ€™s mitt by Claes Oldenburg in the mid-1970s. (Check out Oldenburg’s work here.) You will have to find the New Yorker in the library or borrow a copy from a friend since their articles are only available to subscribers on the web. (You can listen to an interview with the New Yorker author here.)