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Nottingham Contemporary

IN LIGHT OF THE PAST DECADE’S proliferation of expensively built (or renovated) spaces for contemporary art—and perhaps also because the deconsecrated church next door is now a bar—Nottingham Contemporary prompts reflections on the shifting fortunes of public architecture in Europe. Opening november 14, the new kunsthalle, designed by the British firm Caruso St John Architects, occupies a prominent site in the heart of this central English town. The structure reaches heavenward like its neighbor, but the gold-covered boxes at its top resemble shipping containers more than spires. this gesture creates a sense of largesse while avoiding monumentality—perhaps the characteristic of the building’s design that best correlates with its true inspiration, according to the architects, in the warehouses of Berlin and New York.

Such a mercantile source makes good historical sense. Nottingham was once

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