THE STORY: "The Bilbao Effect" became a popular term after Frank Gehry built the Guggenheim Museum in Spain, transforming the poor industrial port city of Bilbao into a must-see tourist destination. Its success spurred other cities into hiring famous architects and giving them carte blanche to design even more spectacular buildings in hopes that the formula could be repeated. In Mr. Safdie's play THE BILBAO EFFECT—the second in a trilogy focusing on contemporary architecture—a world-famous architect faces censure by the American Institute of Architects, following accusations that his urban redevelopment project for Staten Island has led to a woman's suicide. The play explores whether architecture has become more of an art than a profession, and at what point the ethics of one field violate the principles of the other.
"A hilarious sendup of idiotic architect-speak, and a reminder of the gap between the public's demand that buildings be ever more exciting and entertaining, and their need to fulfill certain practical functions." —The New Yorker. "Both funny and cruelly smart in its portrayal of the lunatic excesses of the more extreme varieties of starchitecture…Perhaps the shrewdest of Mr. Safdie's touches is the way in which he conceives of the debate over such architecture as a class war." —Wall Street Journal. "Ambitious…a farce of ideas…dueling arguments about the profession's social and ethical responsibilities." —NY Times. "A thoughtful if satiric exploration of the impact that contemporary architects can have on the residents of the communities in which their buildings are erected…raises provocative questions about the ways in which urban redevelopment is being imagined in the twenty-first century." —TheaterMania.com. "Safdie's sharp dialogue and the talented cast make each character memorable…the playwright succeeds in making the arguments evenhanded, accessible and entertaining." —Theatre News Online.