Feisty architect Hadid challenges Rome skyline

Fri Nov 20, 2009 10:40am EST
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By Ella Ide

ROME (Reuters Life!) - Iraq's Zaha Hadid, one of the world's most acclaimed architects, has given this ancient city that normally shuns modern intrusions another controversial building -- a new museum dedicated to contemporary design.

The MAXXI -- which stands for Museum of Art for the XXI Century -- is one of the few ultra-modern spaces for the arts to be built in Rome and is Hadid's biggest project so far.

The complex, now getting the final touches ahead of a public opening in the spring, will house two museums: MAXXI Art and MAXXI Architecture, as well as spaces for live performances.

"It is the first public museum in Italy dedicated to contemporary creativity," Pio Baldi, president of the MAXXI Foundation, said of the 27,000-square meter structure.

The collection will contain more than 350 works by such artists as Alighiero Boetti, Anish Kapoor, William Kentridge and Andy Warhol, as well as designs by 20th-century architects and engineers such as Carlo Scarpa, Aldo Rossi and Pierluigi Nervi.

"It's so exciting see the building finally come to life," said Hadid, who won an international competition in 1998 to design the 150 million euro complex.

Built on the site of former army barracks, the vast building contrasts sharply with the surrounding residential area.

"I think it's very important that historic cities are allowed to reinvent their future," the London-based designer told Reuters in an interview.   Continued...

<p>Guests walk inside Maxxi museum of contemporary art and architecture in Rome November 13, 2009. REUTERS/Max Rossi</p>