Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Defiant Architect's Gentler Side

Thomas Mayne may be losing his edge, but only literally - not figuratively. The recently unveiled design for a new tower at La Defense is influenced by "the sensuousness of Paris," and has been likened to a slip draped over a body. "It becomes metabolic, the skin. It moves," Mayne says. Like Mayne's other recent large scale work, the Phare Tower's powerful sense of motion makes its unexpectedly soft forms anything but "blobby".

Resented and admired for a brazen, punk-rock approach to both design and practice, Mayne has always thrived on being the feisty underdog challenging authority and establishment. With a handful of high profile projects and the prestigiouss Pritzker Prize (the architectural equivalent to the Nobel) under his belt, he finds himself in a strange place - a position of authority. He seems to be adjusting well however, and the Phare Tower is proof that not only is he still fighting the good fight, but a 300 meter high, one billion dollar affirmation of everything he has been fighting for.

NY Times slideshow + info and images at ArcSpace

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