495-29 BC Acropolis of Athens
1834 Palace for the Acropolis
1835 Project for a Prince's Resifdence
1838 Palace at Orianda
1925 Philadelphia Museum of Art
1990 Acropolis Q
now look who's reenacting
I didn't have to read more than the first few paragraphs of what Muschamp writes in today's NYTimes before the notion of writing something myself took over. Muschamp's first paragraph reads:
"Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio have defined a new building type for the contemporary city: the urban viewing platform. Invention of this caliber doesn't turn up every day. Diller and Scofidio could spend the rest of their careers reworking this one idea over and over again and not be judged harshly for repeating themselves. The basic concept is that good, and its potential applications are various. Many cities will want to try out variations on the theme. But Boston will receive the first authentic edition in 2004, when the city's Institute of Contemporary Art is expected to open its doors."
The "urban viewing platform" is in NOT a new invention created by Diller and Scofidio. Every time I visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art I also visit a quite remarkable "urban viewing platform." Of course, Philadelphia's "urban viewing platform" has already been embedded into popular culture via a climatic scene in the movie ROCKY, as in "flying high now!" There is, however, much more culture embedded within Philadelphia's "Fairemount" in that it reenacts the Acropolis, which, incidentally, is much closer to the invention of the "urban viewing platform" than anything Diller and Scofidio ever did or do. So let's not confuse invention with what is really reenactment.
I didn't bother to finish reading Muschamp's piece because (I feel) its contents are predictable, thus I will write a little more about Philadelphia's viewing platform, which will probably be akin to things that Muschamp says. The stairs that Sylvester Stallone ran up in the movie also many times act as enormous theatrical seating with the head of the Benjamin Franklin ("inventor" of electricity, as long as invention awards are being passed around) Parkway as the stage and the Philadelphia skyline as backdrop. Beyond that, there are always a variety of life vignettes occurring on the steps and up in the Museum forecourt. I particularly like seeing wedding pictures taken up on the "viewing platform"/forecourt; it reminds of a similar scene I once saw at the Campidoglio in Rome, which, incidentally, is another great "urban viewing platform" (and the view from the Campidoglio is the Campo Marzio! Wow, Quondam and the Campidoglio actually have something very much in common. Does that mean Quondam is also a reenactment of an "urban viewing platform" My goodness, will reenactment wonders never cease?).
Ah reenactment! I'm so glad you're there, especially since so many so easily forget.
Re: now look who's reenacting
Muschamp's recent review mistakes are clearly demonstrated when one compares (what he said about) the newly designed Boston ICA with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rome's Campidoglio, and the Acropolis of Athens. All four are indeed "urban viewing platforms" that also house art institutions--remember there was the ancient "picture gallery" within a side room of the Propylaea. The Boston ICA is simply a more "hi-tech" version of the same "typology". Compare the large exterior video screen of the Boston ICA design with the pediment sculpture group as strong visual display--of course, the display at Boston will be literally a moving image (at night), but both the display at Philadelphia and Boston basically reenact the displays once (in living color) at the Acropolis. As to the "view from the Campidoglio," perhaps that's a book we should read again.
Beyond all the history, isn't it also true that the Boston ICA follows/reenacts a well established pattern of successful tourist destination (designs)?
The notion of reenacting the acropolis on the various building sites along the Benj. Franklin Parkway may be the new paradigm for "Parkway Interpolation"; the notions of towers and temples raised on a high plinth may be very fecund, (at least virtually).