Thursday, March 8, 2007

If They Build It…

Architects are the magicians of the Attraction Economy. If they build it we will come, and we do, in our millions. The Tate Modern with its astonishing turbine hall and Herzog & de Meuron redesign drew an incredible 8.5 million people in the years 2004 and 2005. Other buildings like the Guggenheim Bilbao transformed the cultural identity of a city and indeed an entire region. So what happens when a destination experience is built in the middle of small town America? That’s what Bentonville, the home of the retailer Wal-Mart, is going to find out in 2009. Alice Walton has commissioned architect Moshe Safdie to design a jaw-dropping museum they are calling Crystal Bridges. A 15-minute walk from downtown Bentonville will take you to this stunning museum and cultural center stretching across a ravine fed by Crystal Spring. Fill this building with the outstanding collection of American art that Alice Walton is putting together and Bentonville can expect to become a cultural center for the nation. I love this kind of commitment to the local. Anybody who has been to Bentonville in Arkansas will understand very quickly what an impact Wal-Mart has on the area. By staying loyal to the place where they were founded, Wal-Mart have followed a great American tradition. Too often I visit small towns and even cities that have been decimated when local businesses have uprooted themselves and gone to bigger centers. Think local, go global – the best of all worlds.

No comments: