This Week on DnA: Shigeru Ban, Zaha Hadid and the Ethics of Architects

Written by

Shigeru Ban is praised for humanitarianism; Zaha Hadid is criticized for inhumanity. What are the ethics and responsibilities of architects?

And, what do MOMA and the Folk Art Museum really think of each other?

Shigeru Ban is praised for humanitarianism; Zaha Hadid is criticized for inhumanity. What are the ethics and responsibilities of architects? With Naomi Pollock, Guy Horton and Andrea Cohen Gehring.

On Everything Talks, Tom Saunders channels the feelings of MOMA and the American Folk Art Museum in light of the decision to tear down AFAM.

Shigeru Ban has been awarded the Pritzker Prize, and critics have responded with delight, saying his work elegantly unites divergent trends in architecture: the creation of showy monuments for the rich, and community-based design for the poor.

But some argue that an architect’s role is to create great form, not deliver social justice. So what makes Ban’s work special? Did he get the prize for goodness or good architecture or both?  Naomi Pollock, author of Made in Japan: 100 New Products, shares her thoughts, and we hear comments from a past interview with Shigeru Ban.

Qatar stadium by Zaha HadidMeanwhile, formally masterful Zaha Hadid has caused controversy with seemingly dismissive remarks about the deaths of workers on stadiums being built in Qatar (her Al-Wakrah Olympic Stadium shown left).

She is not the only architect building for a 2022 Olympics that has already seen hundreds of deaths of migrant workers, many of them overwhelmed by long hours in horrendous heat.

But should Hadid use her podium to make an argument against such poor conditions?

What are the ethical responsibilities of architects?

Guy Horton, author of a column in Arch Daily, Will We Stay Silent? The Human Cost of Qatar’s World Cup,argues that this is a critical moment for Hadid and other architects working in Qatar and other Gulf states.

Andrea Cohen GehringAndrea Cohen Gehring is principal of the Los Angeles branch of DLR, where she works on range of projects including schools and medical facilities; and she is the new president of the Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Cohen Gehring, right, offers her view on what she says should be a “personal choice” about speaking out; but she argues that women in leadership roles have especial responsibilities. She also cautions that the words attributed to Hadid, whom she holds in high regard, might have been taken out of context.

MOMA and folk art Everything Talks: MOMA “Deconstructs” AFAM

Finally, on Everything Talks, Tom Saunders gives a comedic take on another architecture controversy: MOMA’s decision to tear down the neighboring American Folk Art Museum, designed 11 years ago by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, to make way for yet another expansion to accommodate its ever growing crowds (left).

Since Saunders channels the feelings of objects and buildings, not their owners nor designers, here you get to listen to what MOMA and AFAM have to say about it.