Architecture has, of course, always been a stage set for urban life and commerce, but in their previous work Diller and Scofidio aimed to reveal the social and physical scaffolding behind it. Here the scaffolding remains mostly hidden. Invisible behind the glowing walls of the galleries are massive trusses straining to resist gravity. Lost beneath the swooping curves that appear to structure the museum is a more conventional construction system, the signature elements a representation rather than the reality of how the ICA was built and will be used. The boardwalk may appear to penetrate the glass enclosure to weave harbor and museum together, but you still have to walk back and buy your ticket if you want to see the show. The messy realities disappear behind a squeaky-clean façade. Perhaps the distillation has gone too far, creating a perfect image of what a museum should be for a less-than-perfect world.
That world will soon surround the ICA as Fan Pier goes into construction. And the museum’s didactic clarity and elemental power, self-conscious as they are, may turn out to be exactly what’s needed to generate a compelling public waterfront at the feet of the behemoths that will follow. DSR’s unfolding layers of glass and wood create a memorable museum, the kind from which a new urbanity can grow. Let’s hope it does.
: Museum And Gallery
, Institute of Contemporary Art, Cultural Institutions and Parks, Museums, More