I’m sure people are going to disagree with me on this – but it’s a Friday, and I’m going for it.
While China and Dubai were at the peak of their construction booms there was a large debate taking place as to whether or not architects faced ethical and moral issues when they took on projects in these two regions. Issues were raised about workers’ rights, the countries’ political stances [foreign affairs in particular for China], questions of where the money was coming from…just a number of legitimate questions being raised as to whether or not accepting commissions under these circumstances was the ‘right’ thing to do. Some architects decided it was acceptable, for whatever reason, and some did not [and one in particular changed his mind when the money was right].
So my question is this: what about work in Israel? Now, I know questioning the Israeli State is unpopular for whatever reason in the US – but I think it’s a legitimate question. Take Richard Meier’s proposed luxury condominium project in Tel Aviv. Is it cool that he’s designing a project that has an average unit price of 1.3 million euro [plus VAT], in a country involved in the destruction of another sovereign state over what comes down to religion and land? I’m fairly certain that the majority of Palestinians affected by the actions of Israel’s rethinking of the landscape are civilians.
I, for one, have worked on projects in both China and the Middle East for a developer from Dubai [not by choice, really, but still] – so I’m not one to be throwing stones here. I even kind of like Meier’s building – although the image of the lower floors reminds me of a re-imagined Peabody Terrace by Sert. I’m simply wondering where we draw the line in the sand when having an ethics debate in architecture – and if the assault by some on China and Dubai was legitimate [in that it was really about those issues], or if it was more about lingering issues with those two governments.
[note: Meier’s project got me thinking about all this for whatever reason, but I’m not casting judgment on the man or his work – it’s just an example.]