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Snippy Ouroussoff: Hadid's Chanel Pavilion is End of an Era

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[Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance. Photo: Will Femia]

When New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff fired off zinger after zinger at the Museum of Art & Design's remake of 2 Columbus Circle, we thought he was ridding himself of a season's worth of vitriol. We were wrong! Today, not-so-jolly old St. Nic takes on London-based architect Zaha Hadid's traveling roadshow of a mindfuck, the Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion, now coiling in Central Park. Ouroussoff likes the physical structure ("The sequence of spaces is masterly choreographed."), but it is that structure's very existence that he finds offensive, labeling it a "cynical marketing gimmick." Some color:

1) "The wild, delirious ride that architecture has been on for the last decade looks as if it’s finally coming to an end. And after a visit to the Chanel Pavilion that opened Monday in Central Park, you may think it hasn’t come soon enough."

2) "If devoting so much intellectual effort to such a dubious undertaking might have seemed indulgent a year ago, today it looks delusional."

3) "Surveying its self-important exhibits, you can’t help but hope that the era of exploiting the so-called intersection of architecture, art and fashion is finally over."

4) "Frederick Law Olmsted planned the park as a great democratic experiment, an immense social mixing place as well as an instrument of psychological healing for the weary. The Chanel project reminds us how far we have traveled from those ideals by dismantling the boundary between the civic realm and corporate interests."

5) "The pavilion’s coiled form, in which visitors spiral ever deeper into a black hole of bad art and superficial temptations, straying farther and farther from the real world outside, is an elaborate mousetrap for consumers."
· Art and Commerce Canoodling in Central Park [NYT]
· Inside, Around and All Over Zaha Hadid's Orb of Insanity [Curbed]