Edited by Ben Derudder, Michael Hoyler, Peter J. Taylor and Frank Witlox
Chapter 24: Starchitects, Starchitecture and the Symbolic Capital of World Cities
Paul Knox One of the consequences of contemporary globalization has been a transformation of the structural composition of architectural practice. Following an increasingly international clientele, more and more firms have developed a global portfolio of design work. Some of them are transnational corporations in their own right, huge architecture and engineering (‘A&E’) firms that have grown from what Robert Gutman (1988), in his pioneering study of the sociology of architecture, called ‘strong delivery firms’, commercial firms that rarely win awards but build a great deal. Others have grown from what he called ‘strong-service firms’, practices that are design-oriented but business-centred. A third group of global practices consists of what Gutman called ‘strong-idea firms’. Some of these strong-idea firms are now global brand names within the industry, and a few of them have senior partners whose individual celebrity and marketability have made them rich and famous: they are ‘starchitects’ (McNeill, 2005). These celebrity architects and their product – ‘starchitecture’ – must be understood in the context of contemporary processes of globalization and the political economy of globalizing cities (Jencks, 2005). Leslie Sklair (2005) emphasizes the role of various fractions of what he calls the ‘transnational capitalist class’. Specifically, these fractions include politicians and bureaucrats at all levels of administrative power and responsibility (who actually decide what gets built where and how changes to the built environment are regulated) and a consumer-oriented fraction (retailers and media responsible for the marketing and consumption of architecture), as well as distinctive class fractions drawn from architecture...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.