It sure does. That’s a direct quote from Thomas Lenz, head of Harvard Art Museums, intended as praise. The top comment after Harvard Magazine’s article about the Renzo Piano addition to the Fogg Museum of Art was “Is this really the best that Harvard could do? Is Renzo Piano really the only architect who is capable of doing a museum addition?”
The answers are “No” and “No.” Indeed, Piano is clearly not capable, except that like most modern architects he is a capable assassin of beauty.
A source, aware of my masochistic attraction to museum additions, passed word that Fogg had committed the ne plus ultra of museum additions, and bade me go online to look at the abomination, to wallow in its ugliness, to immerse myself in the perversion of its attitude toward humanity. I did. He called back to assure me that there were better (that is, worse) shots than the one atop the Harvard Magazine article. I looked for it but have not found it yet.
The addition, which will be completed later this year, manages to slime the building from every direction. Even though it is on the far side of the building from Sever Quadrangle, you can see its cackling hideous crown bulging out from the roof. The original Georgian edifice was designed by Coolidge, Shepley, Bullfinch and Abbott back in 1897. How sad. How very, very sad. Nay, how criminal.
I have a softness in my old heart for the Fogg, partly because of its wonderful name, also because an old and elegant friend used to work there while I was at Emerson College in ’73-74. I wonder whether he keeps up with the doings at the Fogg. If he is there yet, he is probably spinning in his grave. He had the best taste, at least when I knew him.