Rutgers Business School

There was a time not long ago when a building such as TEN Arquitectos’ new business school for Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., might have gotten by on its crisp good looks and structural exhibitionism alone. As a taste for such things took hold overseas in years past—and as an architecture of seductively picturesque risk increasingly became the norm—aesthetically and fiscally conservative America lagged very far behind.

We were deprived then, as the late Herbert Muschamp often noted, of examples of this nascent architecture of “desire.” It followed that desirous critics were often moved to give a pass to the few projects in that contemporary mode that did get built here: A delight in a building’s boldness and apparent novelty trumped any concerns about the means deployed and sacrifices made to realize the desired effects.

So let’s ignore for the moment the wide, bent, road-spanning bridge of Enrique Norten’s business school building; the 10 cheekily canted columns that hold the top floor in place 60 feet in the air as it travels between anchoring wings; the frank baring of its photo-white bones through glass walls where the building faces the exurban satellite campus for which it serves as icon and gate; the racy texturing of the opaque skin and the resulting near-total blindness of the building where it faces away… read more