Design + Architecture

The Visionaries

by Suzanne Wales


The vision: Stylish modernism, aided by groundbreaking use of exterior materials for a building's "skin"

Claim to fame: The Tate Modern, London

Cutting-edge maestros Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron believe that one of Europe's greatest challenges is to find new uses for its old buildings. In other countries the Tate's original structure, a disused power station, might have been leveled to make room for a new cultural palace. But in 1995 the Tate's board chose the little-known Swiss duo Herzog & de Meuron primarily because their proposal retained most of the original building's main features. The turbine hall was made into a dramatic lobby where large-scale sculpture is shown, while the boiler house became the galleries. They added a double-story glass penthouse that bathes the entire interior in natural light and affords breathtaking views of the Thames' riverscape. When the Tate Modern opened in 2000 it received more than five million visitors in its first 12 months. A year later Herzog & de Meuron won the Pritzker Prize (architecture's "Nobel"), which elevated them to the echelon of starchitects.

Tate Modern
Tel: 44 20 7887 8888

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