Gallery: The Golden Banana: Rafael Viñoly’s Firstsite Arts Center Final...

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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