Weighing in on Wonder: Dawn Clark, Callison
Decision makers from Interior Design Giant firms react to the declaration of the New Seven Wonders of the World
Mark McMenamin -- Interior Design, 8/17/2007 12:00:00 AM
The New7Wonders Foundation conducted a global contest to find latter-day successors to the Ancient Seven Wonders of the World. More than 100 million Internet votes later, the winners were unveiled this summer in an over-the-top ceremony in Lisbon: The ruins of Macchu Picchu in Peru, the Roman Colosseum, the Statue of Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, The Great Wall of China, Chichen Itza in Mexico, the Taj Mahal in India, and the Jordanian city of Petra. Debate soon stirred regarding the winners, the losers, and the qualities that become a true wonder. To keep the pot boiling, we asked decision makers from three Interior Design Giants for their comments on the winners. Here, we hear from Dawn Clark, a partner at Callison in Seattle.
Interior Design: Did you have any kind of immediate, gut reaction to the list?
Dawn Clark:Yes. Absolutely. There was a couple on the list that totally resonated with me. But, there were some that were not on the list, and I just couldn't reconcile with that. I couldn't agree with the list as it stands.
I would think about what it is to be a wonder, and what does that really mean. Wonder embodies mystery. A wonder tends to embody a time and leadership and culture. It's something that has a kind of mystical power, something that we don't understand how they did it, or something that was lost and found. I think it needs to represent some very powerful culture or timeframe.
I would also look more toward a balance in terms of time, in terms of very different sorts of cultural backgrounds. I also feel that they need to be standing, so you can say, "These are the ones you can go to. They stand and they still represent something very powerful." They are places of energy that were very powerful and influenced who we are. Also, the science of it: how did they engineer it?
ID: Using that criteria, does anything on the final list qualify?
DC: The Colosseum is great, because it represents a spectacle that we can hardly even imagine. It also represents the Roman Empire, so it embodies the qualities of a wonder. And, The Great Wall of China—it's another completely different culture and continent. It is the largest manmade structure in the world, so it's the scale of it—not just how big, but how many people and how much of a collective event it had to be to make it happen. The energy expended is hard to fathom.
ID: Are there any egregious omissions?
DC: When I was first in architecture school, they showed us Stonehenge. It's mysterious. No one knows why it's there. How did they get that there? Not having it on the list was the first miss.
The Pyramids are the next thing. They're older than anything else on the New Seven Wonders list. And the collective commitment of a culture to build something like that . . . to me, it is hard to imagine that it's not on the list.
The statues on Easter Island—they represent another culture that we don’t know about. We don't know why they were put there, why they still stand. It's a complete mystery. And, the Acropolis. It's the pinnacle embodiment of the Greek culture—the proportion, the scale. That civic development is the basis for our language, our government and our structure. It's also the way site is structured with the landscape.
I really did debate, and part of me wanted to include a natural wonder. But then you’re getting into another project, and I didn’t go down that path. But I think it's worth mentioning that volcanoes embody something about wonder and mystery that attracts me.
ID: Any Wonders that you would have left off the list?
DC: The Statue of Christ the Redeemer. It was built in the '30s, and there are a lot of things like that. I don't see it myself.
ID: What's your take on using the public at large, via the Internet, to choose the winners?
DC: I think it's kind of silly. Who's rallying people to vote for certain ones? But I think it was carefully thought out, and there were probably some political forces at work. And how much do people really study ancient civilizations?