... Cobblestone lanes wind around decrepit ruins that have been frozen in time for millennia. Crumbling facades are left to decay — some from blatant neglect and others simply to mark the passage of history. Symmetry and order are foreign concepts.
But all of that changed this spring with the unveiling of American architect Richard Meier’s starkly un-Roman museum of the Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace) — the first modern building project in the historical center since the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini’s destructive modernization of the 1930s.
Now the characteristic labyrinth of quaint, decaying Rome is interrupted by what looks, at first glance, something like a space-age gas station.
The building has become a flash point for anti-American sentiment and public disaffection for efforts to modernize the ancient city, which residents, historians and many visitors prefer were left untouched. Visitors have taken to expressing their dissatisfaction in graffiti.
MEIER IS A CRIMINAL wrote one visitor in English on a construction tarp. IKEA: NOW SELLING TOILETS AT THE ARA PACIS wrote another in Italian. The site has also become a gathering spot for antiwar and anti-American protestors who point to its lack of regard for its surroundings as a symbol of everything they hate about the United States.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Unknown | Friday, May 19, 2006 |