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Is half a Foster better than none?

Niki
Thursday 12 Feb 2009

Foster 'icon' halved by construction calamity

As news of an imploding economy was spreading like wildfire throughout the world late last year, word on the street and in the press was that CityCenter, a $9.2 billion development project in Las Vegas, was proceeding ahead as planned and on schedule. But today came news that the project’s gateway structure, the Harmon Hotel, designed by Foster and Partner’s, had its scope cut in half, leaving in its wake a half-baked stubby-looking tower that only a mother could love.

The building, which was to be 49 stories and is now revised to 28, was reportedly cut in half as a result of construction flaws- 15 floors of wrongly installed rebar-that forced the project’s owner, MGM Mirage, to cut the 207-unit condominium element from the project and delay the opening of a boutique hotel until 2010. In the context of the buildings that are to rise around it, including the 61-storey Aria Resort and Casino and the 57-storey Vdara condo hotel, Foster’s project comes off looking like the ugly step-child of the complex rather than the iconic anchor tower the architect no doubt signed on to create.

Brian Andrews, a visiting professor of architecture at the University of Las Vegas School of Architecture told the Las Vegas Sun, the local newspaper, “Foster is indisputably one of world’s great architects. To bring him in and say ‘OK, design this tower,’ and he designs it with a certain proportional system, and then to cut it in half — it’s a disaster.”

No word from Foster on the hack job.

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent

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