A few weeks ago I posted about the threat of demolition faced by a Paul Rudolph office building in Boston that was in the way of a planned new tower and plaza by the architect Renzo Piano. Now it turns out that Piano has quit the project. He had been hinting earlier in the press that he had disagreements with the developer, Steve Belkin, over Belkin’s desire to widen the 80-story tower. What Belkin plans to do now is turn over Piano’s design to a Boston firm for them to execute — and presumably to revise in ways that Piano couldn’t stomach.
Which opens an interesting question. It happens all the time that architects are forced to compromise with their clients. But what happens when they’ve submitted a completed design that the client then hands over to another firm? Daniel Libeskind eventually removed his name altogether from the final design for the Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center, which was being billed for a while as a Libeskind-David Childs collaboration. Will Belkin attempt to describe his project as “Piano-inspired” — the words Boston Mayor Tom Menino used the other day after Piano pulled out? I have a feeling Renzo won’t like that. The more that the finished product adulterates his original design, the less he’ll want the glamor of his name attached to it in any way. But other than publically disowning the project, what are his options?