Starchitect David Chipperfield Disowns $66 Million Città delle Culture Project

The move follows a "pathetic dispute" over flooring.

David Chipperfield’s Città delle Culture in MilanPhoto via: Milano City Council
David Chipperfield’s Città delle Culture in Milan
Photo via: Milano City Council

British starchitect David Chipperfield has disowned his $66 million Città delle Culture art complex in Milan, following a row over the flooring material used.

During a press conference organized to clarify the affair, Chipperfield said that “against our specification, against the contractor’s bid, against our advice, the Direttore Lavori approved a lower quality stone throughout the building.”

The finish of the floor, which covers 5,000 square meters, is “unacceptable” for the British architect, who claims some pieces were scratched, stained, and poorly installed.

Chipperfield argued that he consulted experts, who told him the problem could be solved for as little as €300,000 ($330,000). He claims he even offered to cover half of the costs, but the city council asked that the work be done without incurring additional expenses.

“The Città delle Culture is a service for the people of Milano,” Luigina Venturelli, press officer of the City of Milan, told artnet News. “The City just wanted to open the space to the public. The floor is just a detail,” she explained.

And open they did. Last week, the exhibitions “Africa, La Terra Degli Spiriti” and “Mondi a Milano” marked the inauguration of MUDEC, one of several museums in the vast complex which occupies a converted steel factory in Zona Tortona, the city’s “design district,” despite the very public falling-out.

A “Pathetic Dispute” that Ends 15 Years of Work

The so-called “floor war” is the culmination of a rather fraught collaboration. Last month, the Italian culture minister Filippo Del Corno told L’Espresso magazine that Chipperfield had been difficult to work with. In addition, Milan’s council pointed out that Chipperfield had been handsomely remunerated, receiving “€3.6m […] for his design and project management.”

The architect reciprocated by branding the complex a “museum of horrors,” according to the Independent. “My career in Italy was not motivated by the desire to get rich but by the desire to work in a society with a great history and a deep understanding of the importance of architecture,” he also told Corriere Della Sera.

Chipperfield is well versed in museum building, and has recently completed projects such as the Neues Museum in Berlin and the Hepworth Wakefield gallery in northern England. His proposal won the competition for the Città delle Culture back in 2000.

“It is a pathetic dispute at the end of 15 years’ work. However I can do no more,” Chipperfield said. “I suggest as taxpayers who have paid a lot of money for this building that you demand the floor you paid for and ask why civil servants that are paid from the public purse show so little interest in the public good,” he added.

David Chipperfield<br> Photo via: Corriere della Sera

David Chipperfield
Photo via: Corriere della Sera


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