The Challenges of Star Architecture in Historic Cities: The Case of the Acropolis Museum in Athens

  • Maria Gravari-BarbasEmail author


The Acropolis Museum in Athens illustrates the difficulties in reconciling the desire of star architecture projects to stand out from and the need to integrate the existing historic urban fabric. This “premium” museum was expected to firmly establish Athens among international cultural urban destinations, yet it faced significant frictions in its landing within a complex urban landscape, under the sacred rock of the Acropolis. The long-standing controversy broke out again in the summer of 2007 when this iconic building demanded the “sacrifice” of several surrounding neoclassical and Art Deco buildings in order to be fully visible. Inaugurated in 2009, the building designed by America-based Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi was indeed intended to be iconic, branded and highly visible. Based on a comprehensive overview of the press and several interviews with stakeholders, this chapter shows how political, economic or cultural goals are continually negotiable between the various actors involved in the process of star architecture making.


Athens Acropolis Museum Heritage Iconicity Star architecture Historic city 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IREST, EIREST, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-SorbonneParisFrance

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