Internationally renowned architects have been at center stage in public debates, not only with reference to designing esthetically striking artifacts, but also for urban regeneration programs and city branding. Since the 1990s urban policy-makers and stakeholders have apparently been competing in collecting spectacular or branded buildings such as museums, corporate skyscrapers or luxury residential towers and hotels. This has recently attracted the attention of architecture, planning and geography scholars, though we still have limited understanding about the critical urban implications of starchitecture.
Drawing on concrete case studies in different cities of the world – such as New York, Paris, Barcelona, Milan, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Singapore – this lecture concentrates on the spectacularization of architecture and the built environment, the roles of star architects and financial interests in urban policy-making and the circulation of similar branded buildings and master plans.
On the basis of the results of a long-term research, Davide Ponzini will argue that – despite what mainstream narratives say – starchitecture is often used by urban policy-makers, local and transnational coalitions in order to drive political consensus, maximize media exposure and cover economic and real estate interests, potentially inducing paradoxical and even perverse urban effects which deserve further evaluation and public attention.