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Back issue for magazine - Architectural Review 2011/6 (1372)

Architectural Review 2011/6 (1372) This month, the military industrial complex is on our minds, prompted by the activities of US Navy Seals in Abbottabad and an exhibition on the relationship between architecture and the Second World War at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) in Montreal. As our Abbottabad correspondent notes, there is a perennial fascination with the lairs of evil masterminds, but Osama Bin Ladenís turns out to be disappointingly banal, the only really shocking thing about it being its cosy proximity to an elite Pakistani military academy. Now, however, an unremarkable piece of architecture may acquire the charged status of a holy relic.Itís curious to think how sites and buildings can be so strangely and profoundly transmuted. Trace the trail of Bin Laden and his operatives from Abbottabad and you end up in New York on a September day nearly ten years ago. The destruction of the World Trade Center is seared into collective consciousness because Bin Laden chose his targets well. A pair of soaring towers on the edge of Manhattan were the perfect architectural embodiment of Western capitalism. The ravaged downtown site is now infused with a terrible poignancy that has all but paralysed reconstruction efforts.
The Pentagon, which was also targeted that day and rebuilt exactly as it was, is one of four mega-projects featured at the CCA show. While the Pentagon is still operational, Auschwitz, one of the other projects under scrutiny, is mercifully not. But it still endures, a place where what remains of architecture is loaded with meaning that is almost too much to bear.


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