Paul Goldberger Gets Deep on the Meaning of Koolhaas’ Burnt Hotel in Beijing


Whenever we think we fully understand something to a fairly clear degree, we’re always proven wrong by writers far more poetic and gifted than we (speaking for this writer here, of course, as Stephanie is certainly far superior in the brains department). Such is the case with the New Yorker‘s Paul Goldberger who put together this great piece concerning the burning down of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Beijing (which you’ll recall we reported on here). Instead of our news piece of “the thing a famous architect designed burnt down,” Greenberg instead, and in very few paragraphs, gets to the heart of what this burning down means with history and how to reflect upon it as admirers of architecture. So now that we have pointed you in the right direction, we leave you to be enlightened. But first, here’s a bit from the great conclusion:

Investigators told the Times that CCTV employees caused the fire by launching fireworks too close to the building. For those imbued with architectural schadenfreude, this will surely come as a disappointment. How much more wonderful if this could be the sign they have been waiting for, the burning bush sent to show us how dangerous it is to worship architectural icons. Rem would see the light, he would repent and begin to design dull buildings. And all would be well.