Implicitly semiotic in nature, the “iconic” building begs the question of what it signifies as icon, i.e., as a symbol or signifier of sorts. We know that cities (and the nations they belong to) have commissioned “icons” in an effort to project themselves as—to use another undefined term—“world-class cities”. So, the icon signifies the affluence and technological prestige of the nation it is situated within. However, we must ask firstly how they signify and what functions they perform apart from signification: for example, in generating and processing capital, in promoting tourism, and in producing myths related to nationality and globalization. This course module reviews prominent icon or prestige buildings and landmarks in order to illuminate the role of architectural design in mediating globalization via capital-intensive development, branding, and risk management. It positions the icon-building as a successor to other forms of monumentality and as an object that operates across scales through its spectacular circulation.
Questions and Assignments
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