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2006 07 06
Building the ROM Crystal - Status 27
Libeskind's ROM Crystal continues its stately progression. Today's image - they are all taken from a web cam on the top of an adjacent hotel - made me think of the Slow Food movement. Why? In a culture that has come to equate speed and efficiency as an integral part of modern life, the idea that we build architectural icons like the Crystal in defiance of that accepted norm says something about our culture. Maybe it's because I'm reading The Omnivore's Dilemma. That book discusses how what we decide to eat can change the world. Similarly, what we decide to build as a symbol of who we are as a culture might change the world.

The ROM's decision to build Libeskind's vision was a courageous one. I've vacillated between thinking the choice was driven by a somewhat cynical view of spectacle-driven culture or a genuine comprehension that a museum is the ideal platform to investigate the integration of advanced technological means with a profound philosophical grasp of the 21st Century human condition. The resulting complexity when deftly managed can be inspirational. When the first phase of the renovation opened last December I was surprised at Libeskind's ability to remake and energize the historic ROM galleries. They are masterfully done. That gave me faith that the renovation was more than skin deep.

In a world where, for example, papers have to dumb themselves down to sustain readership, the ROM's choice to embrace complexity should console us. Why? I think that in spite of media's tendency to drive discourse down to the lowest common denominator, people remain hungry for the authenticity and pleasure of original ideas. Today's image of the Crystal with its combination of complex geometry and lattice-like substructure reflects that hunger in an abstract way.

[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 07/06 at 12:29 PM

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