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Near Miss

December 23, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

[Roland Halbe, NYT]

The current New Yorker has a piece by John Seabrook about famed architect Zaha Hadid. In the print edition are photos of her, her recently-opened MAXXI building in Rome, and the still-to-be-built Aquatics Center for the 2012 London Olympics. Additional photos can be seen as part of the accompanying audio slide show at the New Yorker website.

The MAXXI is the National Museum of the XXI Century Arts, set just north of the center of Rome in the Flaminia neighborhood. It opened on November 12, a Thursday, our last full day in Europe. We had left Rome the previous Saturday, the 7th, and left Italy altogether on the night of Tuesday the 10th on the overnight train to Paris. So we missed all the excitement, just barely. Not just the opening, but the coverage as well.

Nicolai Ouroussoff, the NYT architecture critic, had a review on the 12th, with yet another slide show. He wrote:

Maxxi, which opens to the public on Saturday for a two-day “architectural preview,” jolts this city back to the present like a thunderclap. Its sensual lines seem to draw the energy of the city right up into its belly, making everything around it look timid. The galleries (which will remain empty of art until the spring, when the museum is scheduled to hold its first exhibition) would probably have sent a shiver of joy up the old pope’s spine. Even Bernini, I suspect, would have appreciated their curves.

The completion of the museum is proof that this city is no longer allergic to the new and a rebuke to those who still see Rome as a catalog of architectural relics for scholars or tourists.

i wish we had known to walk over to the museum. It wasn’t far from where we stayed. Indeed, the Hotel de Russie is just two buildings south of the Piazza del Popolo, on the north side of which sits the Flaminian Gate, the northern entry to ancient Rome, with historic Via Flaminia running north from there. A 2.5 kilometer walk up the Via Flaminia and to the left would have taken us to MAXXI.

Oh, and not only that, but we just missed Hadid herself. From the New Yorker article, we learn that “Hadid arrived in Rome three days before the MAXXI’s opening ceremony, … ensconcing herself in the luxurious Hotel de Russie, just off the Piazza del Popolo.” Darn. That would have been fun.

Categories: Architecture, Travel
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