If in human terms fifty years represent a critical threshold amidst possible physical debacle, existential crises and assessments, architecture does not – in theory – suffer so visibly the strokes of time, at least if it has been conceived as an artefact with a reasonable life cycle and not as an ephemeral phenomenon.
in architecture in fact, while the European and Western approaches have long been thirsty for eternity, the East Asian approach has been of a different nature, often preventing natural ageing through partial or integral substitutions of the artefact that render it continuously functional and figuratively stable: this is because in architecture, as in any element of the Universe, what lives on is the spirit rather than the material.
On architectures that are children of the global modern, on the other hand, fifty years can be a critical threshold for a reckoning on design and technological quality, and on the role played by the work over the decades.
What follows is a selection of “splendid fifties”: architectures that for the most part – with the exception of some that have been heavily altered (Busiri Vici) or erased by history (Yamasaki) – have over time fulfilled the initial expectations, sometimes becoming iconic symbols of a city or a continent.
From the United States (Sert, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Meier), to Europe (Saubot, Bofill, Schwanzer, Zanuso, Mollino), to Australia (Utzon), the architectures born in 1973 celebrate their first fifty years with easy going charm, despite some possible minor aches and pains.