Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Iconic Buildings in the Mideast

What is an iconic building? When I first saw the term, I immediately thought of Greek columns – Doric, Corinthian, and Ionic. But iconic of course refers to icon, as in being famous, or being a symbol for a culture or time. The term icon originally referred to a religious painting, but nowadays it can be applied to everything from individuals to gadgets to buildings. Iconic status should only be conferred after a building has been built and shown to symbolize something to a wide audience, but often new buildings are called iconic. Iconic buildings we all know are the Empire State Building, Eiffel Tower, and Sydney Opera House. Now with global capitalism, very tall skyscrapers or culturally unique buildings are popping up all over, especially in the Mideast. For example, Burj Khalaifa in Dubai which is AT THE MOMENT the tallest building in the world at 2,717 feet high, more than a thousand feet taller than the Empire State Building. A New Yorker article says the residential building “has a magnetism that is lacking in almost every other super-tall building of our time.” There are even taller buildings planned in the Mideast. The Nakheel Tower in Dubai will be more that 200 floors and 3,281 feet high. A recent NYT article describes the new design by Jean Nouvel for the National Museum of Qatar that captures the Bedouin culture, which may one day be considered iconic.

APL has a fairly recent book to help you understand what an iconic building is.: The Iconic Building . With a mixture of wit, irreverence and sympathy, leading architecture critic Charles Jencks surveys the recent history of the iconic building and then focuses on ten key examples.

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