8.31.2010

SOM, BIG, Hargreaves: Who's Driving this Bus?

So today we make sense of SOM, BIG, Hargreaves.























OK a couple things here. First, whenever BIG is involved I expect some seriously inspiring but loony shit. Second, the boards are a bit deceiving in that they seem oversimplified and a bit gimmicky. But you really can't judge the entry unless you read the plan narrative, which at 337 pages make Charles Dickens seem concise. 

This scheme is like running into a schizophrenic wild-card broad at a bar. A real firecracker, you never know what you are gonna get. I can just imagine squeaky corporate SOM telling Bjake Engels to keep it in his pants while Hargreaves sips on a mimosa sketching in their moleskin. Sadly, when the personality of this entry is revealed, it isn't the good side or the bad side of that crazy chick, just the slightly boring/apathetic side. Some thoughts. . . . 

1) I do like the economic analysis, done by URS in this case. It was one of the points of emphasis for the team and surely will figure in the decision. You have to make sure people like mayor Slay and his developer buddies have a reason to get excited even if the projections are a bit far fetched. The fatal mistake was putting out renderings below that visualize their unrealistic economic expectations. Good idea, poor execution. 
2) The amphitheater across the river and the cap over the freeway are both decent ideas. I enjoy the restraint here, most likely on SOM's part. The amphitheater doesn't try to swim in the swift currents of the Mississippi like it does for Benisch and the freeway cap takes advantage of the fact that I-70 is already below street grade. No need to rip it out, just cap a few blocks. 
3) The ramped landscapes and green roofs are a tad overdone. Dare I say they are trendy and could look foolish in 2020. BIG's fingerprints are all over this aspect of the plan. It would be fine if it were pushed as a primary concept but it isn't. And I don't think it was executed that well. The connection of the North Pavilion to Eads Bridge is particularly clumsy. The swimming pool on the river is a direct rip off of this and this. If it's possible to rip off your own work. . . or just copy and paste it into the competition. 
4) Whispering Leaves and Magic Carpets. The whimsical themes of children's tales or in this case, gimmicky tags for expensive line items. I did say I liked the cap over the freeway, but do we have to call it a magic carpet? And why are these giant metal leaf-like structures whispering? I'm confused. 

Ultimately this entry suffered from an identity crisis. Like good 'ol two face from the Seinfeld days. There were signs of the fantastical vision of BIG constantly being thwarted by Daddy SOM and favorite son Hargreaves. We were left with the gray afterbirth. Some clumsy adaptations and concessions that lacked cohesion and ultimately lacked the ability to inspire. While some people are ripping the oversimplified boards, I think it was a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. After all Engels likely had 100 unpaid interns cranking out study models like this over in Copenhagen while SOM, URS and Hargreaves greased the developers' wheels. 
Sorry gang I just don't see it, 0.

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