Tafline Laylin

The Golden Banana: Rafael Viñoly's Firstsite Arts Center Finally Opens with Mixed Reviews

by , 09/28/11
filed under: Architecture, News



Golden Blunder, Rafael Vinoly, Roman Ruins, Daylighting, green design, eco design, sustainable design, Firstsite Arts Center, Colchester, UK, archaeological dig,

Firstsite finally opened its great golden doors on September 25th – four years after originally planned. The final price tag came in at $44.3 million dollars – significantly more than originally quoted – after a series of engineering and structural problems delayed construction. Commissioned in 2003 via a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)-led design competition, Rafael Viñoly’s vision has been criticized from the onset. Arch Record reports that Borough Councillor Paul Smith supports the project since he expects it to draw $3.2 million in annual revenues, but Parliament Member Bob Russell calls it an embarrassing “Golden Blunder.”

Still, we think that Viñoly should receive kudos for giving the project a light-ish footprint in order to preserve the surrounding archaeological treasures. Instead of creating a giant that requires deep footings (as well as a prohibitively expensive archaeological dig) he opted instead for a single multistory volume that receives plenty of natural light. Though the construction materials might have been eco-friendlier than copper and aluminum cladding, there’s a good reason that Rafael Viñoly was entrusted to create the gorgeous state-of-the-art arts and educational facility that has already brought little old Colchester out of the shadows.

+ Rafael Viñoly

Via Arch Record

images via Richard Bryant

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