But Madrid Río is a project whose audacity and scale, following the urban renewal successes of Barcelona, Spain’s civic trendsetter, can bring to a New Yorker’s mind the legacy of the street-grid plan, which this year celebrates its 200th anniversary. That’s because the park belongs to a larger transformation that includes the construction of dozens of new metro and light-rail stations that link far-flung, disconnected and often poor districts on Madrid’s outskirts to downtown. — NYT
The NYT features two interesting (when compared side by side) reviews of architectural/urban design projects this week. First, Michael Kimmelman visits Madrid Río, the almost completed freeway to park conversion, designed by a group of local architects, led by Ginés Garrido with help from the urban design and landscape firm, West 8. Kimmelman uses the review as an opportunity to contrast the (typically European) government led, public and relatively speedy approach taken in Madrid, against the slower more incremental, and often not fully public (ie: funded/developed using a public-private partnership [PPP] model) approach taken in NYC and America more generally.
Then Roberta Smith visits Bentonville Arkansas, where the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art designed by Moshe Safdie, opened last month. She writes that the museum funded by private (Walmart heir) money, is "a work in progress", yet it is also "off to a running start". Smith, notes that the project went from concept to reality in "record time" (just over 5 years) and she argues that it "is user friendly in ways big and small. Admission is free, and it has an ambitious education program".
Granted there are huge differences between the program/design of an urban park and an art museum. Yet, one wonders why private projects on the scale/ambition of Crystal Bridges occur with relative speed and frequency in the USA while projects that could be compared to the Madrid Río (ie: the Big Dig) are often delayed, budgetary nightmares and underwhelming in their design ambition/scope?