I’m in Toronto for a couple of days. From my hotel room I can see "the crystal" designed for the Royal Ontario Museum by Daniel Libeskind. The Crystal is pictured here, eyes right. (Thanks to Kevin Marshall and his blog for the image.)
My first reaction was terror. And I was in good company. Most people couldn’t wait to heap scorn upon Libeskind’s work. Condemnation is a Canadian enthusiasm, a form of national bonding. And the Royal Ontario is a favorite target. High profile, American architect, risky, rule-breaking design, the Museum, Toronto, the combination was really too good to be true. People feasted on outrage.
But now that I see the thing nearing completion, I like it more and more. Almost every corporation is inclined to act like a citadel, closed in upon itself, suspicious of strangers, armored against the infidel. Corporate cultures might as well be ethnographic ones. They identify others, vilify enemies, and keep the world out.
And all of them are now obliged, on pain of their own obsolescence, to break the walls down and let the world in. Every corporation nows aims for porous boundaries. Every corporation, profit or not-for-profit, wants contemporary culture to run through it, now around it. (That’s indeed much of the gist of my consulting on this visit.)
Something like Libeskind’s architecture is happening (usually somewhat more metaphorically) to every organization we know. Walls are being penetrated, boundaries buckled, parts of the organization made to lean precariously way out into the world.
Libeskind’s design makes a stirring point about what will happen to institutions if they wish to survive And he has captured some of the violence and ugliness that must inevitably ensues. We might not like this work as architecture. But it serves pretty well as truth in packaging.
Kevin Marshall’s blog is here.