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The Icon Project


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Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION The argument Sources Structure of the book CHAPTER 1 ICONIC ARCHITECTURE AND CAPITALIST GLOBALIZATION Architecture, Power, Aesthetics The Icon: history and theory of an idea Iconic for when Iconic for whom Iconic for where CHAPTER 2 TWO TYPES OF ICONIC ARCHITECTURE: UNIQUE AND TYPICAL The rise of iconic architecture Iconicity claims of top firms Starchitects and signature architects Architecture theme parks and other iconic projects CHAPTER 3 THE ARCHITECTURE INDUSTRY AND TYPICAL ICONS The sociology of architecture The architecture industry in the new millennium Successful typical icons Celebrity infrastructure CHAPTER 4 CORPORATE STARCHITECTS AND UNIQUE ICONS Frank Lloyd Wright and the FLW industry Le Corbusier and the Corb industry The rise of the starchitects Frank Gehry Norman Foster Rem Koolhaas Zaha Hadid CHAPTER 5 THE POLITICS OF ICONIC ARCHITECTURE Architectural iconicity and identities Politics and the architecture of transnational social spaces Iconic architecture in urban megaprojects Paris China CHAPTER 6 ARCHITECTS AS PROFESSIONALS AND IDEOLOGUES The criticality debate Third World Modernism and postcolonialisms Postcolonialist understandings of architecture Disney, China, and India Sustainability, human rights, and the architect's place in society CHAPTER 7 ARCHITECTURE AND THE CULTURE-IDEOLOGY OF CONSUMERISM Consumerist space in the city of capitalist globalization Architecture, consumerism, and the media Iconic architecture and shopping Performance spaces Displacement CHAPTER 8 ARCHITECTURE, CITIES AND ALTERNATIVE GLOBALIZATIONS APPENDIX Interview codes BIBLIOGRAPHY INDEX

About the Author

Leslie Sklair is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the London School of Economics. He worked in a cotton mill outside Glasgow for two years before going to university to study sociology and philosophy. Both experiences fostered a life-long interest in how capitalist society works in different ways for different groups of people. In particular his long-standing interest in architecture and cities sharpened his vision on the power of the built environment to shape our lives.


"Leslie Sklair has produced an elegantly written, wide-ranging exploration of that over-used and under-examined totem of our times, the icon. The Icon Project deconstructs the seductive image of power that rises from the uneasy depths of transnational capitalism and global consumer culture to symbolize both modern desire and social control-this is a masterful work of political-economic critique and architectural analysis."-- Sharon Zukin, author, Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places "This book ought to be required reading for my generation. A great tough survey-crucially from outside the architectural world-which manages to show us the huge shiny, lumpen shape of the transnational development Utopia we've come to accept as inevitable. Most of all, it shows just how even the best architects and architecture have become 'enthusiastic partners' in the global project of turning the whole way we treat the world into a form of development opportunity and corporate entertainment. A gripping read, as well as a very, very scary one. There's never been a bigger need for architects to use all their other skills to think about how to design us out of this place."-- Kester Rattenbury, Professor of Architecture, University of Westminster "...In this masterfully sweeping survey of the leading architects of our times, some living, some deceased, Sklair dares to situate the undisputed creativity and genius of distinguished architectural icons in the context of capitalist dynamics that sustain and privilege the demand for ever more wildly ambitious designs. With a sociologist's understanding of power and the commercial requisites associated with globalization, a comparative historical appreciation for developmental context, and an activist's social sensibilities clearly on his mind, Leslie Sklair reveals the utopian and dystopian elements of modern design practice. Readers may not fully agree with all his critiques, but they will embrace his search for an alternative aesthetics of urban design and city-building, even as they continue to ponder how individual virtuoso can be disassociated from the larger consumption dynamics that brand architectural projects as iconic."-- Diane E. Davis, Harvard Graduate School of Design "Leslie Sklair's sociological perspective on iconic architecture surveys conditions under which it has emerged and the social and political demands to which it responds. This is a deeply informative account and at times a cautionary tale." --Denise Scott Brown, VSB Architects

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