Last One Out Turn Out the Lights

Back in 2006, I questioned the reality behind the skyscraper boom in places like Dubai. In 2007 I suggested that there was a coming storm in Dubai, while as late as last spring the New York Times was confident that it was time to party in Dubai like it was 1999 (or perhaps 1929).

Now, feeling a bit hung over not to mention behind other media outlets, the Times is realizing they can’t perpetuate the building boom anymore, not even in Dubai. Sobering up, they are forced to deal with the cold reality and so the Times coughed up the following today: Laid-off Foreigners Flee as Dubai Spirals Down.

I’m not sure where the lights should go off first: in the Arabian nights wonderland of Dubai, rapidly turning into a debtor’s prison or at the Foster building located across the street from the Port Authority station? Both are parodies: the first of capitalism and architecture, the second of responsible journalism. It’s a bad year for both of them, perhaps only to be outdone by the bad year to come in China, which has managed to combine both into one at the CCTV complex and is off to a great start for the year of the Ox, as I’m sure you know by now, a story that not only broke but was reported best not via traditional media outlets, but via Twitter.

Soon Dubai will abandoned to sink back into the sands. I think it’ll be much more interesting that way, with feral animals running wild, Chernobyl-style, in the ruins. As for the Times, at a symposium last Saturday at Columbia someone said "What if the Times closed, they have dozens of reporters in the Baghdad bureau… How could bloggers replace them?" Yochai Benkler stated "But they are responsible for the war! Remember Judith Miller?" He is so right. What if our news from Baghdad came from actual Iraqs, people who understand the context and speak the language?

Oh tired, old Grey Lady, maybe it’s time to shut the doors on the Piano building and call it a day? The face-lift didn’t work, it just made things worse. Your structural function as an enabler for the growth machine has been a non-stop embarrassment for all involved and now its time to pay the price.

Back in 2006, I questioned the reality behind the skyscraper boom in places like Dubai. In 2007 I suggested that there was a coming storm in Dubai, while as late as last spring the New York Times was confident that it was time to party in Dubai like it was 1999 (or perhaps 1929).

Now, feeling a bit hung over not to mention behind other media outlets, the Times is realizing they can’t perpetuate the building boom anymore, not even in Dubai. Sobering up, they are forced to deal with the cold reality and so the Times coughed up the following today: Laid-off Foreigners Flee as Dubai Spirals Down.

I’m not sure where the lights should go off first: in the Arabian nights wonderland of Dubai, rapidly turning into a debtor’s prison or at the Foster building located across the street from the Port Authority station? Both are parodies: the first of capitalism and architecture, the second of responsible journalism. It’s a bad year for both of them, perhaps only to be outdone by the bad year to come in China, which has managed to combine both into one at the CCTV complex and is off to a great start for the year of the Ox, as I’m sure you know by now, a story that not only broke but was reported best not via traditional media outlets, but via Twitter.

Soon Dubai will abandoned to sink back into the sands. I think it’ll be much more interesting that way, with feral animals running wild, Chernobyl-style, in the ruins. As for the Times, at a symposium last Saturday at Columbia someone said "What if the Times closed, they have dozens of reporters in the Baghdad bureau… How could bloggers replace them?" Yochai Benkler stated "But they are responsible for the war! Remember Judith Miller?" He is so right. What if our news from Baghdad came from actual Iraqs, people who understand the context and speak the language?

Oh tired, old Grey Lady, maybe it’s time to shut the doors on the Piano building and call it a day? The face-lift didn’t work, it just made things worse. Your structural function as an enabler for the growth machine has been a non-stop embarrassment for all involved and now its time to pay the price.

3 thoughts on “Last One Out Turn Out the Lights

  1. what banham says

    On Dubai in 2009, see Reyner Banham’s description of Las Vegas circa 1982: “Las Vegas is the symbol, above all else, of the impermanence of man in the desert, and not least because one is never not aware of the desert’s all pervading presence; wherever man has not built nor paved over, the desert grimly endures…. The presence of such an enclave of graceless pleasures in such an environment is so improbable that only science fiction can manage it; the place is like the compound of an alien race, or a human base camp on a hostile planet…. And doomed—it is already beginning to fade, as energy becomes more expensive and the architecture less inventive. It won’t blow away in the night, but you begin to wish it might, because it will never make noble ruins, and it will never discover how to fade away gracefully.” —Scenes in America Desert

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