But for every Bird's Nest, there are scores of costly iconic failures, buildings that fail to spark the public's imagination. Of course, failed icons don't go away, which is a problem. Since the Bilbao effect teaches -- I believe mistakenly -- that unconventional architecture is a prerequisite for iconic status, clients have encouraged their architects to go to greater and greater lengths to design buildings that are unusual, surprising, even shocking. But the shock will inevitably wear off, and 100 years from now, all those iconic wannabes will resemble a cross between a theme park and the Las Vegas strip.The existing Central Library can be seen in this light. We hired a "starchitect", and in about 30 years the style has gotten dated and is so "ugly" that Robb Pitts thinks we need to repeat the experiment. I feel the same way about casinos and halls of fame. They haven't worked for Cleveland or Detroit. I think a casino downtown could be good for the city, but there are so many details that could get screwed up that I can't get on board without knowing specifics. We don't need another bomb shelter like AmericasMart, for all the commerce it brings.
Another reason why we don't need to focus Downtown development on just big deal projects like a new central library or a health museum: residents are the real goal. In my mind, the single best thing that could happen to Downtown and to Five Points in particular would be for GSU to build the dorms at Underground that they have in their long-term plans.