Within fourteen days of each other, two rush-hour calamities: a bridge collapse and a steam-pipe explosion. In Minneapolis, a forty-year-old bridge along highway I-35W suddenly dropped sixty feet into the Mississippi River, killing at least five people and injuring approximately one hundred more. The federal government had deemed the bridge structurally deficient in 1990, which the Minnesota Department of Transportation acknowledged in separate reports issued in 2005, 2006, and 2007, after inspecting the bridge.
A FRIEND RECENTLY TOLD me that his most important pedagogical tool as an architect is this maxim: the architect's primary ethical responsibility is to be the guardian of the public realm, in contrast to the myriad others who currently configure our built landscape— clients, politicians, contractors, developers, and NIMBY-driven "community action" committees.
Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava has come under a storm of criticism, most recently in yesterday's New York Times, for ambitious projects that come in wildly over-budget and in need of repairs.