Channeling Bartleby: Finally, a couple of starchitects say ‘I would rather not’

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Two of the biggest names in British architecture -- Richard Rogers and Norman Foster -- have turned down a chance to design a new generation of nuclear plants in France. On the merits, I’m not sure this particular commission qualifies as one to be avoided at all costs: A nuclear plant is not exactly a new wing for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or a villa for Robert Mugabe. But as I’ve argued before, it’s rare and refreshing when architects, who so rarely seem to consider the full social implications of their most controversial commissions, go against their participatory nature and say, simply, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ If they did so more often, the story of the Barnes Foundation move and the Beijing Olympics, to pick two recent examples, might have unfolded quite differently.

--Christopher Hawthorne

Via Archinect