Lost in the seemingly endless controversy surrounding the Park51 mosque and community center planned for 51 Park Place, two blocks from Ground Zero, is the actual design of the building itself.
The Real Deal‘s James Gardner, for one, thinks that the preliminary renderings are pretty nice:
The building presents itself as a severely flattened and uninflected façade, relieved from tedium only by the vigorous patterns that cover the screen-like surface. The effect is a little bit reminiscent of Jean Nouvel’s Institut du Monde Arabe, the masterpiece that put the French architect on the map.
The Islamic Center’s bold and unified flatness, rising from the street all the way to the summit, adheres to a very different logic from that of most other buildings in the five boroughs, which even when modernist, are divided into a tripartite base, shaft and summit. But the proposed mosque near Ground Zero reminds us that there was once a time, five hundred or a thousand years ago in a far-flung Muslim empire, when some of the finest architecture ever made was being fashioned from brick.