IMPORTANCE

September 23, 2010
international artemis
The International Space Station, NASA, 2006 (source)

 

Temple of Artemis, Ephesus (near modern Selçuk, Turkey), 2010 (Photo by Author)

 

‘When I was young, I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old, I know it is’

 

—Oscar Wilde

 

 

There is nothing on our fair Earth more important than money. Even love takes second place to hard cash, its most sacred institute, marriage, appraised yearly in dollar amounts: paper for one year, tin for ten and gold, not until fifty years of married bliss—a lifetime if one considers that most modern brides do not marry until they are in their thirties.

 

If we apply this rule of importance to architecture, that it is bound to cost, it is possible to compile a definitive list of the world’s most important architectural achievements. An abbreviated list in ascending order of cost to construct:

 

-Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, 2007, $950 million
-The Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong, 1990, $1.0 billion
-World Financial Center, Shanghai, 2008, $1.2 billion
-Burj Khalifa, Dubai, 2010, $1.5 billion
-(New) Yankee Stadium, New York, 2009, $1.5 billion
-Wembley Stadium, London, 2006, $1.5 billion
-Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, 1998, $1.6 billion
-Taipei 101, Taiwan, 2004, $1.8 billion
-Antilia Residence, Mumbai, 2010, $2.0 billion
-Wynn Las Vegas, Las Vegas, 2005, $2.6 billion

 

These earthly examples pale in comparison to the International Space Station which is estimated to have cost, to date, $157 billion. Now, if only someone could pony up the cash to build a casino in space, we might finally enter the next great age of architecture.

 

E. Sean Bailey

 

“I have set eyes on the wall of lofty Babylon on which is a road for chariots, and the statue of Zeus by the Alpheus, and the hanging gardens, and the Colossus of the Sun, and the huge labor of the high pyramids, and the vast tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their brilliancy, and I said, ‘Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on aught so grand.’”

 

—Antipater of Sidon, Greek Anthology (IX.58)

 

 

‘We [architects] should take everything very seriously, but then somehow regard it as being not important’.

 

—David Chipperfield (El Croquis N.150)

 

 

The archaic Temple of Artemis (or Artemision) at Ephesus, was completed c. 550 BC. Designed by the architects Chersiphron of Knossos, his son Metagenes, and Theodoros of Samos, it was the first monumental structure built of marble, and for nearly two hundred years was renowned as the largest building in the Greek world. On July 21st, 356 BC a man named Herostratus burned it to the ground in a deranged but admittedly successful bid for eternal fame. It took nearly one hundred years to rebuild, but by 250 BC the Artemision had surpassed its former glory. Five hundred years later, the Artemision was burned again (this time by invading Goths), rebuilt, and then definitively destroyed in 401 AD by a Christian mob led by St. John Chrysostom.

 

If you ever find yourself near Selçuk, look for the sign just outside town for the Artemision. After pulling off the road you’ll perhaps encounter a few other tourists and a man selling statuettes and postcards beside his motorcycle. And then, in an unpleasant-smelling marsh, you’ll see the Artemision, one of the Seven Wonders of The World.

 

Jacob Reidel

 

 

 

 

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