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The Golden Banana: Rafael Viñoly’s Firstsite Arts Center Finally Opens with Mixed Reviews
Posted By Tafline Laylin On September 28, 2011 @ 10:02 am In Architecture,News | No Comments
The much-anticipated opening of Rafael Viñoly's Firstsite Arts Center in Colchester, UK just a few days ago has had wildly mixed reviews. While there is no denying that what some are calling the "Golden Banana" - according to our friends over at Arch Record - is striking, many are critical of the project's costs, which ran over by $15.8 million, and the crescent-shaped building's visual departure from the surrounding Roman ruins. So, what about the project's environmental footprint? It's definitely not small at 41,000 square feet, though it does qualify as a mixed-use development that houses galleries, educational facilities, a research center, an auditorium as well as retail, restaurant, and administrative spaces, but measures have been taken to give it a "light touch." Find out more after the jump!
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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URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/a-golden-banana-rafael-vinolys-firstsite-arts-center-finally-opens-with-mixed-reviews/
URLs in this post:
 Image: http://inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2011/09/firstsite-rafael-vinoly-2.jpg
 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA): http://www.architecture.com/
 + Rafael Viñoly: http://www.rvapc.com/
 Arch Record: http://archrecord.construction.com/news/2011/09/Firstsite-Art-Ctr-Grand-Opening.asp
 Richard Bryant: http://www.richardbryant.co.uk/richardbryant-mr/home.htm
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