Atlantic Cities

Design Flaw of the Day: Maximum Flexibility, No Picasso

Design Flaw of the Day: Maximum Flexibility, No Picasso
Roryrory/Flickr

Of all the infamous architectural instances of prizing form over function -- the various structural mishaps of the John Hancock tower, the Vdara Hotel death ray -- this may be the most costly.

After paintings worth hundreds of millions of dollars were swiped yesterday from the Rotterdam Kunsthal, security expert Ton Cremers said the building's design is to blame. The Dutch art museum was one of the first big projects of architect Rem Koolhaas, a Rotterdam native, and has been praised for its lightness and transparency. ArchDaily called the structure more of a cultural center than a museum -- one that allows "maximum flexibility."

Maximum security would also have been appreciated. According to the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant, Cremers said the museum is a "gem" for the visitor, but a "dragon to protect."

"Once inside the building, thieves could easily walk through the entire museum. There were no extra compartments built for the expensive pieces," Cremers said, according to Dezeen. He thought the building's design forced curators to place valuable art near the exterior walls.

Among those taken were works by Picasso, Monet, Gauguin and Matisse.

Museum director Emily Ansenk denied the charges. "The Kunsthal has state-of-the-art security," she said.

Top image: Flickr user Roryrory.

HT Dezeen.

Henry Grabar is a freelance writer and a former fellow at The Atlantic Cities. He lives in New York. All posts »

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