friends, dear colleagues and my respected fraternity,

With this article my intention is to start an entire new series this year. Eclectic, interesting and intriguing and much related to mainstream architecture. I will be looking forward to receiving suggestions in the box – leave a comment .

Have a Wonderful New Year Ahead.


The Starchitect

What do we mean when we say a “star” is born?

The first “stars” among architects were born when they designed buildings that acted as specific symbols for cities which were contending for status as well as assets.

The brilliance of late Zaha Hadid’s flair to weave total fluidity and the magic of the building that Frank Gehry made which revived the whole city creating “the Bilbao effect”  or for that matter Norman foster‘s Reichstag building that rebranded an entire nation are just a few of the “stars” for the list goes on  that evolved a new phrase- a new category -a new era “Starchitecture

The journalists who till then were in a race to bring stories of strong personality be it an actor or a sports person, an artist or a singer  to its readers had never before dived into an architect’s work. But these same journalist suddenly elevated these individual architects generating ripples in journalism.

The blind frenzy with which internet responded made them a brand. Greater the number of Google clicks on the blockbuster building the higher the status of the individual architect grew in measuring his brilliance, his “star” effect- making him a brand a “starchitect.”

Eventually forcing the developers,the planners,the controllers,to commission a “starchitect”on their projects in hope of quick clearance of budgets & plans. In this continuous rush to sign them an entire new phenomena unfurled-

*These “starchitects” who started their journey, to differentiate a city were seen dotting the skylines with their signature styles in order to get more and more acknowledgement of their brand on the digital world and last of all, if we must say as a physical space to inhabit.*

And here”you &me”many decades later are being ushered to witness the  mass production of barely distinguishable buildings. So tell me

  1. Should we acclaim and respect these “starchitects” who are uniting the many cities of the world by giving them same skylines?
  2. Should the next generation strive to have a style for the purposes of building a successful brand, and hence a successful business?

-architect Babika Goel

The author is a graduate from college of Architecture, Lucknow and Associate, Indian Institute of Architects.


DisclaimerNo injury or disrespect is intended to any particular person or brand with this article.

17 thoughts on “Starchitect”

  1. Well, Babika, you have stirred a very old hornet’s nest (and several corollaries of it)- Form Follows Function!
    The answer to this could result in at multiple blogs!
    My comments:

    1. Today’s digital age has created 3 factors that instigate Starchitecture:
    a. DIY knowledge thus making function a layman’s science
    b. Right brain activation thus causing a higher need to stand out in the skyline
    c. Low attention spans and better competition

    2. Developers, at times, simply want to attach a Starchitect’s name to sell their project (it started with Hafeez in India)

    3. Technology and Environment are dominating the built form more than ever

    4. What would Howard Roark’s building have looked like?

    1. With this article I am also trying to look into future.

      Quoting peter thiel~
      When we think about the future, we hope for a future of progress. That progress can take one of two forms. Horizontal or extensive progress

      means copying things that work—going from 1 to n. Horizontal progress is easy to imagine because we already know what it looks like. Vertical or intensive progress means doing new things— going from 0 to 1. Vertical progress is harder to imagine because it requires doing something nobody else has ever done. If you take one typewriter and build 100, you have made horizontal progress. If you have a typewriter and build a word processor, you have made vertical progress. At the macro level, the single word for horizontal progress is globalization—taking things that work somewhere and making them work everywhere.

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