View Full Version : Zaha Hadid's new Rome museum

11-12-2009, 11:41 PM





Lessons here for Boston:

ROME ? What would Pope Urban VIII have made of Maxxi, the new museum of contemporary art designed by Zaha Hadid on the outskirts of this city?s historic quarter? My guess is that he would have been ecstatic.

This 17th-century pope, one of the most prominent cultural patrons in Roman history, understood that great cities are not frozen in time. He loved dreaming up lavish new projects over breakfast with his artistic soul mate, the Baroque sculptor and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini. When Bernini needed bronze for the baldachin in St. Peter?s, the pope simply ordered it torn out of the Pantheon. Neither was afraid to make his mark on the city.

Since then the architectural scene here has become a lot duller. True, Mussolini commissioned some impressive civic works, most notably for the fascist EUR district. But for most of the last half-century Romans have been content to gaze languidly toward the past. The handful of ambitious new cultural buildings that have appeared, like Renzo Piano?s marvelous Parco della Musica, tend toward the dignified and respectable.

Maxxi, which opens to the public on Saturday for a two-day ?architectural preview,? jolts this city back to the present like a thunderclap. Its sensual lines seem to draw the energy of the city right up into its belly, making everything around it look timid. The galleries (which will remain empty of art until the spring, when the museum is scheduled to hold its first exhibition) would probably have sent a shiver of joy up the old pope?s spine. Even Bernini, I suspect, would have appreciated their curves.

The completion of the museum is proof that this city is no longer allergic to the new and a rebuke to those who still see Rome as a catalog of architectural relics for scholars or tourists. It affirms the view that cities thrive when each generation attempts to rise to the challenges of the past while remaining true to contemporary values. That means that yes, we too ? the living ? have something to contribute.


11-13-2009, 12:14 AM
I hate the boring modern plaza but the inside looks pretty spectacular.

11-13-2009, 08:19 AM
Just terrible -- have the modernists learned nothing, even when they have a city like Rome to work with?

11-13-2009, 08:33 AM
yeah, the interior is fantastic, although all the flourescent lights look a little hellish, but the article says it was pleasantly warm so maybe that's just the photographs. Would love to see more context, too

11-13-2009, 08:34 AM
Just terrible -- have the modernists learned nothing, even when they have a city like Rome to work with?
the modernists are dead and gone. this is deconstructivism

Beton Brut
11-13-2009, 11:52 AM
this is deconstructivism

I decent with lumping Zaha in with the likes of Gehry, Eisenmann, and Libeskind. It's her intimate understanding of concrete as a surface material, and the rhythmic grammar of some of her work that sets her apart. I consider her an organic expressionist (in the tradition of Saarinen and Lautner).

I need to get to Rome...

11-13-2009, 09:07 PM
Speaking of Saarinen, visited the arch today. It's breathtaking every time I see it.

The Hadid museum is unreal. Truly looks like a masterpiece, not just a regurgitation of traditional modernism or deconstructivism. The curves of the concrete ribbons in the ceiling are awesome; the whole interior is awesome. I have to agree with Van, though-the exterior shot isn't doing anything for me, but personally, I'm not fond of most deconstructive exteriors (at least, not Gehry's). But, this doesn't especially remind me of his work. Definitely more Saarinen or Lautner, like Beton said.

Beton Brut
11-13-2009, 10:11 PM
On further reflection, a little Oscar Niemeyer as well.



11-13-2009, 10:48 PM
I was going to say it would be nice if she tried including some plants near her buildings and then i remembered http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2505/4094014389_4b3148629a_o.jpg