In 1996, Pritzker-winning architect Peter Zumthor unveiled a glorious high-design spa in the Swiss valley of Vals, made from 60,000 slabs of stacked quartzite. In 2015, Morphosis Architects, the firm of fellow Pritzker-winner Thom Mayne, unleashed renderings for a 1,250-foot mirror-clad hotel for the modest Alpine village, to be placed right next to Zumthor's fine low-slung building. If built, it will become Europe's tallest skyscraper, towering over the surrounding houses and obstructing mountain views from miles around. Mind you, this is a 1,006-person town in the Swiss Alps, not London or Frankfurt. Critics are understandably aghast.
In a recent column, Guardian critic Oliver Wainwright referred to Mayne's tower as a "design statement that verges on farce," calling it "a gigantic mirror-clad middle finger aimed at the region...it's hard to imagine a more obnoxious gesture to inflict on a sleepy spa town."
The L.A. Times writer Carolina A. Miranda is slightly more measured, but still disapproving: "Certainly, it's a whole lot of starchitecture for the same corner of the Swiss Alps—putting Mayne, who also has a Pritzker and is known for brash, sculptural buildings, next to one of architecture's more demure holy sites."
Commenters on Archinect are pretty much convinced that Mayne is just trolling the blogosphere. Here's L.A. Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne gleefully quoting an emphatic commenter:
· Morphosis Plans Mirrored Skyscraper for Swiss Valley Site [Design Boom]
· Is the tiny town of Vals really the right place for the tallest building in Europe? [Guardian]
· All Archcritics posts [Curbed National]