Design + Architecture

The Visionaries

by Suzanne Wales


The vision: Unorthodox, sometimes revolutionary projects, often more like art installations than buildings

Claim to fame: Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston

In 2006, the hipper-than-thou New York–based architecture practice Diller Scofidio + Renfro—that's husband-and-wife team Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio plus Charles Renfro—unveiled Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art and made a splash in a city not known for its love of contemporary architecture. This place relies on some visual tricks to make an impact: The first-floor gallery, for instance, seems to hang over the surrounding waterfront, and from some angles looks like it's dangerously close to toppling over. A curved steel ribbon runs from the upstairs gallery to the downstairs public space and shoots though the glass lobby, giving the impression that it is the structure's sole support. This building's success has a lot to do with the way it connects to its surroundings, such as the bleacher-style seating and the fantastic window in the auditorium that both face the water.

Institute of Contemporary Art
Tel: 617 478 3100

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