Friday, July 07, 2006

Something to look at

The new Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, designed by Jean Nouvel. Picture courtesy of The New York Times:

The site is a Modernist heaven on a former industrial strip along the riverfront. Just next to the complex is a grain elevator, similar to those that Le Corbusier once lauded as the American equivalent of the Parthenon, the "magnificent first fruits of a new age." An electric generating plant looms across the river; to the north, water rushes through a series of locks beneath an industrial bridge.

Like so many cities, of course, Minneapolis has gradually undergone an economic transformation. Most of the city's old flour mills were shut down long ago. The concrete grain elevator alongside the theater complex has been preserved as a historic monument, and a nearby row of warehouses has been converted into co-ops. Mr. Nouvel's design takes its initial cues from the city's early history. The complex's scale fits nicely with the structure next door. The boxy, piled-up forms echo the electric power plant across the street, anchoring the theater in the city's early industrial ethos rather than in the shopping centers and office towers downtown. (New York Times 7/4/06)


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