The Times did a survey of the UK’s big building projects now that the boom has come to a halt. They point out that building doesn’t stop in a recession. Just look at New York’s Rockefeller Center. More to the point, now is good time to build; materials and labor are both cheaper, not to mention cranes. Cultural projects are especially good to build in a recession as they don’t depend on commercial prospects for funding, though The Times wonders if the proposed Tate Modern project will be able to raise the rest of the money necessary to go ahead:
On the plus side, promising cultural projects have made it through the madness. Despite everything people like to say about the alleged maladroitness of Liverpool, it is well advanced with its £70m Museum of Liverpool on the revived Pier Head. Shame they sacked the original Danish architect, but at least it’s there, and should open in 2010. In London, meanwhile, we shall shortly be seeing a £13m extension to the Whitechapel Art Gallery, courtesy of the Belgian architects Robbrecht en Daem. It is due to open in April, at nearly double its previous size.
I find myself wondering about London’s biggest cultural project: Tate Modern’s £215m extension, a brick and glass ziggurat behind the old power station of the original building. Last time I checked, they were still hoping to get the thing done ultra-fast in time for the 2012 Olympics, but had raised only one-third of the money.
So, unless the Tate’s director, Nicholas Serota, has a magic cash fountain, I’d expect some back-pedalling soon. Which would be a shame, as now is a great time to build. It’s getting cheaper. If a powerful city such as Birmingham can find the wherewithal to build its proposed new cultural quarter (the central library and Birmingham Rep combined), now is the time to get on with it.
All Hail the New Puritans (The Times of London)