Profile: Lord Foster of Thames Bank, architect

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The Independent Online

Another fabulous construction to add to the Foster portfolio?

On the contrary, one of them is about to be demolished. In fact, should casino powerhouse MGM Resorts International have its way, Foster's Harmon building will be imploded at the earliest possible convenience. The 26-storey monolith has been plagued by building problems since 2009. It was meant to be the centrepiece of a $9bn (£5.4bn) entertainment complex, a 49-floor hive of brashly decorated apartments and a vast casino hotel. But after a series of flaws in its construction its size was halved, and the monolith became an empty mini-lith with an advert for the Viva Elvis show slapped across its frontage. $69 to sit in the Gods, folks.



Did Foster finally make – gasp – a bad building?

Perhaps. MGM is blaming construction firm Perini, and looking to retrieve the $200m they paid them. Perini, meanwhile, points the finger squarely at Foster + Partners, saying the original blueprints were at fault. But regardless, Foster can't be too delighted at what has happened. The Harmon building has become a symbol of the collapse in Nevada's property market. MGM, with the swift and brutal reasoning we've come to expect from corporate America, was probably on to something when they simply said "get rid".



But the Gherkin? The new Wembley? His buildings almost make me care about architecture

Be assured, the Harmon building is no beauty. In a way not too dissimilar from many Vegas structures, it just stands there looking massive. In its lack of subtlety it's fully "area-appropriate". Let's not forget, Vegas is where you can go to a gun range, hand over some money and fire automatic rounds at posters of Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. It's a stretch of desert where old widows go to pour coins into slot machines, where people throw money endlessly into the void and where everyone loses. So maybe it was fate that Foster lost, too. But don't feel too sorry. His team is busy working on a number of other projects around the world.

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