Its massive sphere, which at night is lit with blinking and fading lights that swirl around the silver façade of the enormous orb, is a less than subtle allusion to the motion of a spinning basketball. During the day, the sun glints off of the reflective surface, catching the eye of the passers by. It is an ode to the sport of basketball, a veritable duck, affixed to a decorated shed that is emblazoned with corporate logos. These aspects force the question “Is this a museum or a mall?” The two elements of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott-Brown, that of the duck and the decorated shed, are at work here. Both emphasize the stylistic elements of the other. The functional form of the retail space serves to foreground the massive globe, and distinguishing each of these elements from one another, the oversized glowing basketball atop the steeple serves as the signpost for the building. If architects Gwathmey/Siegel are familiar with the philosophy of Venturi and Scott-Brown, they are ignoring their advice.
The building is separated from its home of Springfield by the highway, which is raised at the location of the museum, and does not allow for much of a view of the cityscape. This solidifies the apparent goal of the BHF to become a self-reli...
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...ts turn a visit into a side show.
I am not convinced that the financial yield of this project will be lucrative for the city of Springfield. After a visit to the site on a holiday, Patriot’s Day, and seeing the parking lot a quarter full, the restaurants half empty and much of the retail space vacant (Fig.9), I am bound to believe that this approach was a bad decision for the city. Perhaps something as simple as access to the rest Springfield would have coaxed a more widespread range of visitors, or frankly just more visitors. Instead of developing this museum into cultural site to be discovered within the lure of a city that has the potential to offer more, they strove to create a stand-alone (Fig.10), independent destination that reflects lack of imagination hidden under the blinding light of sensational architecture, unexamined memorabilia and cheap amusements.
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