Razing Rome’s Ara Pacis Museum

Is there any hope for Rome to become a modern city? A Reuters article from this Sunday takes a look at that very question, using the Richard Meyer’s Ara Pacis Museum as its whipping boy. the Ara Pacis Museum is a reliquary for the Ara Pacis, an ancient monument to peace commissioned by Emperor Augustus himself. In 1995, when Meier’s design was commissioned by the then-progressive administration, the building was intended to lead The Eternal City into the new millenium. A tall order for any architect, but Meyer’s building is widely regarded as a spectacular failure — often referred to as a gas station. And now there are those who want to see the building destroyed. Most notable among the over-reactionaires is Rome’s current mayor Gianni Alemanno, who has s since tempered his statements. Even so, the Culture Minstry of Rome—let’s call it MiniCult—wants to alter the building so that it doesn’t obscure nearby churches. This, barely two years after it has opened. Here’s what Meier (by proxy of his website, that is) had to say about the project waaay back in 2005, a time before Facebook, Twitter, and Rome’s right-wing mayor: