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The billion-dollar-plus Xanadu project in the Meadowlands has caused a good deal of controversy since it was first announced. The most recent uproar was over its somewhat…ahem…exuberant color scheme. The public backlash against it was so extreme that last week the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority called on the project’s architects to defend their color and pattern choices. Like many New Jersey residents, the majority of our poll respondents (64%) think Xanadu is an eyesore. Slightly less than a quarter (21%) believe the controversy is much ado about nothing. A mere 14% support the color choice. Seth Leeb, an architect with his own practice in Morris County and current president of the New Jersey branch of the American Institute of Architects, thinks it’s too soon for us to be passing judgment at all. Here is what he had to say:

“As president and therefore a representative of AIA New Jersey, I can’t render an opinion on whether a particular design or color scheme is good or bad. We can’t do that as an organization. It can be an unfair thing to do, anyway.

“I’ll give you an example. I love Frank Lloyd Wright’s work. However, at the time it was built, a lot of people didn’t like some of his architecture. Now, some of it has become iconic. It’s beautiful work. Design is subjective; it’s not black or white, good or bad. Speaking as president of an organization, we can walk into a room with 30 people in it and get 30 different opinions of a project. So for me to share an opinion wouldn’t be fair to the organization behind the project.

“A lot of input goes into deciding on the design and color scheme of a building. That input comes from the client, the architect, the design team and the community leaders. AIA certainly encourages that process and community involvement in it. It’s important that people get involved in the design of buildings that will be part of their neighborhoods.”

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