Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Nature makes fools of architects

If architects were as cavalier about gravity as they are about weather, half the buildings in this city would have fallen down by now.

The most recent and spectacular example of contemporary architectural hubris is Daniel Libeskind's addition to the Royal Ontario Museum, the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. Turns out its precariously angled aluminum and glass facades are the ideal icicle machine. If Libeskind had set out specifically to design a building that endangers passersby with falling ice, he couldn't have done better.

The exteriors protrude at just enough of an angle that snow can collect on them. They also happen to be made of materials that absorb heat from sunlight, melting the snow that then drips and freezes into large icy protrusions capable of seriously hurting anyone below.

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