"High-end architecture is getting hotter," says Ron Smothermon, a Newport Beach ad producer. "More and more modernistic, high-end architecture is flowing through the advertising industry." A wide swath of companies has filmed and photographed Disney Hall for ads since the building opened in 2003, including Microsoft, Sony, Supercuts, Macy's, Vidal Sassoon, Nokia, M&M's, Bass Ale, Oral B and many automobile brands.
Thom Mayne sees nothing wrong with any of this:
Just down the hill from Disney Hall, the ultra-modern Caltrans building is another mecca for advertisers, receiving 36 commercial film and photo shoot requests in 2005, more than any other state-owned building in California. Last year it played host to Nintendo, Sony, MasterCard, Clairol, Mitsubishi, Samsung and others. Which didn't surprise its architect in the least.
"We could anticipate that this would take place," says Mayne, who unveiled the massive Space Age project in 2004. "We had film crews in the building before it was even occupied…. I think this reflects society's continued interest in the present, in something contemporary. Architecture tends to be put under forces that are fairly conservative, and advertising has a different set of rules. It's much more open and willing to explore…. This is another way that buildings are absorbed by the public; it's not a problem — it's not even a good or a bad thing. It just is, and should be."
A high school building by Mayne in suburban LA gains revenue from all the advertising shoots taking place there:
And then there's the money. All location fees feed into the school district coffer — which opens up a new dimension to architecture that hasn't been much considered, Mayne says. "It's an interesting side effect, the building actually producing funds that go back to students. I like the politics of that. It lends the building a secondary value that no one thinks about."
The article asks whether architects' work is being appropriated without proper credit (apparently, architects don't care) but I think the real issue is what the implications of "starchitecture" are. Mayne's point about Diamond Bar High--that consuming architectural imagery is benign so long as it benefits the public--made me think of this. (via)