Two weeks ago, I had the chance to run around the Tate Modern in London and gasp at all of the brilliantly elegant details that seemed to fill every corner of it. Even this back utility stair has a clean resolution to the continuous handrail that also incorporates the stair's lighting. It's beautiful in its simplicity of form and purity of function.
On the ground floor were the plans for its expansion, a confused scuplture of completely inefficient forms.And I couldn't help but wonder what happened. How did Herzog and De Meuron go from the Tate, a monument to simple forms, innovative skins, and elegant functionality to stuff like the Walker and the Tate addition; a mix of confused and unnecessarily complicated sculptures with a circulation system right out of an M.C. Escher drawing? Is this the natural evolution of a small, rigorous studio into a large international firm?