Iconic or Not


Tag: FL

Artist uses foil to create solar skin

Janowski took down his foil house art installation on July 13. I added two new pictures.

My first impression upon seeing artist Piotr Janowski ‘s aluminum foil house?  I wonder if Mark Kelly can see it from space?

In May, Tampa Bay  media reported  that a Tarpon Springs, FL resident had wrapped his house in aluminum foil. This being Florida, the state known for attracting characters, it was small news.  Still, I had to see the house.

A shiny house stands out in a neighborhood of white block look alikes. The art upset the neighbors. The Tampa Bay Times  story has a tone similar to the classic children’s book Imogene’s Antlers, by David Small — in the story, well meaning towns folks launch a frenzy of “cures”  to rid Imogene of her antlers. Artist Piotr Janowski experienced a similar reaction. Neighbors called code enforcement to remove the unsightly skin, others called an arborist in case the wrapped palm trees might be suffering. Some neighbors speculated on “what-ifs” in threatening tones.  Janowski shrugged indifference (as did Imogene).  Isn’t art supposed to stir up trouble and get people talking? Continue reading

Defining “iconic,” why it matters

Rowen Moore and I are activists on a mission to stop the spread of the term “iconic” in architecture. Moore, The Guardian’s architectural critic, opened his review of “Walkie Talkie” (20 Frenchchurch Street, London) with this plea, “When, for the love of God, will the word iconic finally die?” I like Moore’s synonym for iconic –“whooshy.” He means the building is curvy instead of office tower vertical .


walkie talkie

He warns that the word “iconic,” without an exact definition,  is at least ambiguous.  But, Moore’s concern is the worst case scenario. Does green space on the roof of a curvy (iconic) building lead to the misappropriation of public space?

That’s why when I read a tweet about “Walkie Talkie,” (20 Frenchchurch Street) yesterday, the words iconic and public caught my attention. When these two words are linked, its a red flag. “Iconic” often translates into public/private investment. The next question should be how much does private investment in a public building justify their right to control public space?


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