National Museum of 21st Century Contemporary Art and Architecture, whose acronym is MAXXI, was opened to the public yesterday, 15 November 2009. Its official opening will be sometime in 2010, but by all the first reports the space is stunning. Baghdad-born, London-based, and first woman to win the coveted Pritzker Prize, Zaha Hadid, is the building's architect. To some, this seems like Rome's Bilbao moment.
The building required 51,000 tons of concrete and steel, and $203 million of construction dollars. This wonderful Flickr slideshow gives you a good look at the structure from the eye-popping photos it has already inspired. Jay Merrick of The Independent in the UK (which actually has a daily section devoted to architecture), made these comments in this article after a recent visit:
The sweeping geometry of its form and its internal configuration are almost baroque in the way they modulate volume, light and glimpsed views. Exterior spaces are intertwined, sometimes dramatically, at other times with an almost graceful restraint. Inside, the drama is much more visceral. Heavy black staircases, underlit by white lightboxes, rise as if in flowing oriental brush strokes into the overlapping volumes of the gallery spaces. We seem to be in an Expressionist film set.I have read that the sometimes languid, sometimes fiery, Hadid dislikes handrails. In some of the photos, you can detect the recessed handrails she brought to the design in the main halls. This comment is not meant to be trivial. It is an attempt to consider the mind-busting thought that goes into the details of ground breaking projects like this one.
Hadid was awarded this project over a decade ago, long before she became an international icon for architecture, much like Gehry's relationship to Bilbao. There will be more news to come on this project, but you can say, for now, that Hadid has taken Rome.
New York Times article
Design Museum, British Council, Biography/Comments
Design Boom article
Lofta.com - good review and photos
Zaha Hadid Project: Painting as Building
Wiki: Zaha Hadid