Published  14/10/2005

Not Built in a Day

The continued strife plaguing Italian architects spills over in Rome, where US architect, Richard Meier, has been under attack for an unpopular 'shrine' building that now houses on a mega-scale, the Ara Pacis, an historic altar that dates back two millennia. Now encased in Meier's mausoleum, it can hardly claim to be the safety-pin hooking up ancient Rome to modernity. Indeed, From Here to Modernity promises, in the Eternal City, to become a long-running epic. Walter Veltroni, the erstwhile Mayor of Rome, can be praised for doing his best to drag Rome into the new century, as a classic municipal moderniser. The 'Centro Storico' remains, however, so far quite secure. Now the Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo, designed by no less than Zaha Hadid, is rising just over 1 km to the north of the old city walls. Rome's own baby, Massimiliano Fuksas is himself creating a new convention centre to the south of the city. Rem Koolhaas too is in the game, winner of the competition for the Centrale Montemartini commercial revamp. Not the last word, but the mayor himself now proposes a new development on no less than the Capitoline Hill, where a glass dome will go over the statue of emperor Marcus Aurelius. The scene might emulate La Dolce Vita, as the structure is helicoptered in amid a wild party, 1950s style.

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