Schizoid Times

A front-page story in the New York Times describes Masdar, a new city being built on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. “In Arabian Desert, a Sustainable City Rises, Walled and Lofty,” reads the headline, despite the fact that the accompanying illustrations make it clear that there are no walls, and the most striking characteristic of the architecture is precisely that it is not lofty—buildings are intentionally restricted to 4-6 stories. Architecture critic Nikolai Ouroussoff, who clearly has it in for Foster + Partners, the planners of the new city, maintains that Masdar reflects a “gated-community mentality” (although there do not seem to be any gates) and finds little to praise in this effort to build a zero-carbon city. While the critic is disturbed by Foster’s technological innovations—“daring and noxious”—somebody at the Times seems enamored of them, for the paper devotes an entire inner page to the article, including numerous illustrations of a variety of interesting low-tech and high-tech energy- saving devices such as umbrella-like sunshades, wind towers, automated mass transport, and photovoltaic roofs.

 

Masdar personal mass transit vehicle

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