American tennis star Andre Agassi famously claimed, "image is everything." Actress Jennifer Lopez sells music, clothing and perfume bearing her name. Until recently, golfer Tiger Woods' trademark smile was used to sell everything from cars to soft drinks. The pervasive nature of today's mass media has created an explosion of celebrity culture in society.
Image-based celebrity branding has infiltrated even the traditional world of architecture, where media savvy 'starchitects' and their signature styles have become commodities to be purchased like the latest fashions off the runways of Milan. Cities around the globe clamour to have the latest works of the hottest 'it' designer. Having one of their buildings in your skyline is seen as the equivalent of having an Armani suit in your closet. Like casting Brad Pitt to star in your movie, building owners often hire 'starchitects' to ensure a level of prestige for their projects. While this phenomenon has traditionally been the playground of global cities such as New York and Toronto, three current Winnipeg projects indicate it may have found its way to our humble city.