Designed by Robert Stern, One Museum Mile is notable for its almost complete failure to offer anything to the street. It joins some of my other unfavourite buildings in the Big Apple, like Frank Gehry’s IAC building and Metamorphosis Architect’s 41 Cooper Square, in turning its back on what’s happening outside.
The bottom part is the Museum for African Art so that imposes a significant constraint on opening the building up. Still, that’s where the designers, regulators and occupiers have to show their creative flair and find ways to avoid sterilising the street.
Not all bad things happen in Manhattan. Closer to home, RMIT’s new Design Hub offers a solid wall to busy Swanston Street, the key public spine and tram line through the university precinct (see second exhibit). To make matters worse, as I pointed out here, the wall doesn’t even deliver on the environmental claims RMIT has made for it – these might otherwise have provided at least a partial excuse.
As a commenter noted before, the Design Hub “makes a bold statement but it frustrates me that a university building in particular is so insular and fails to invite the public into the building space. Maybe it’s intentional!”
It’s a good looking wall although I do wonder how long it’ll be before some drunken students attempt to scale it and do themselves harm. No doubt RMIT was well aware of any public liability risk from the get-go and has ensured an appropriate strategy was incorporated in the design. If the building had been open to the street at ground level that risk would have been avoided.
The Design Hub is already on my Greenwash Register; now it goes on my No Street Cred Register too.