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    A Cultural Anchor in Wine Country

    The UC Davis Art Museum Competition

    by Larry Gordon

    Winning entry by SO-IL (Photos: ©Regents of the University of California, Davis)

    The University of California at Davis is a sprawling, well-regarded campus that is probably best known for its contributions to agricultural research that aids the nearby big farms in the Central Valley and growers worldwide. Not as widely known is that UC Davis has a strong arts program and a large art collection, particularly of prints, watercolors and ceramics. For example, contemporary painter Wayne Thiebaud  (creator of those lusciously bright paintings of cakes, lollipops and farm landscapes) taught there and has donated many of his own and others' work to the university. The school also has a trove of Old Masters' prints from the 17th through 19th Century.

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  • 07/25/13--15:48: Why Stop
  • Why Stop


    Imagining the South Coast Rail


    by Kim Poliquin

    2011rail 155-winner-1
    Winning entry by Emer O'Daly

    What would make you stop? A glowing greenhouse? A rolling theater? Or how about a super pier? During the summer of 2011 SHIFTboston challenged architects, urban designers, designers and landscape architects — professionals and students — to visualize new destinations along the proposed South Coast Rail extension, a new rail line that will connect Boston to Taunton, New Bedford, and Fall River, Massachusetts.

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    Next Stop

    The 2013 Burnham Prize Competition

    by Stanley Collyer

    Winning entry by Hesam T. Rostami and Bahareh Atash

    The NEXT STOP competition challenged designers worldwide to propose a vision for iconic, functional and sustainable stations for Chicago’s planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. It attracted forty-two entries representing design teams from 14 countries. Each competition entry includeed a station prototype and variations for three neighborhoods—the Loop, Bucktown-Logan Square and Pilsen.

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    Redesigning Detroit

    Replacing a Downtown Flagship

    by Stanley Collyer

     redesigning detroit - dropboxWinning entry by Davide Marchetti and Erin Pellegrino

    The motto for the Redesigning Detroit competition might have been: ‘If you tear down a building, replace it with something better.’ Still, in the case of the once-existing Hudson’s department store, and the memories it invoked in the public consciousness, coming up with a viable replacement solution represents a real challenge. Of all rustbelt cities, Detroit represents a special case. The loss of over 1.2 million residents resulting from the decline of manufacturing after the 1960s left the city in a shambles, visually as well as financially. Hudson’s anchor in the downtown core was just one of many institutions which fell victim to the wrecking ball. But as a retail magnet in the 1930s to the early 1950s, among the country’s major department stores it was only second to Macy’s in size. Thus, as a symbol, its disappearance had to reinforce the idea of decline in the public mind. Similar to the rebuilding of Ground Zero in New York, a new iconic structure on the former site of Hudson’s could signal a glimmer of hope for the city’s future.

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    Absolutely Amazing

    A High-rise Competition Thrusts a Canadian Suburb into the

    International Limelight   

    by John Bentley Mays

     absolute-towers- mad-tomarban-4Completed towers (photo ©TomArban)

    From Hans Scharoun’s Romeo and Julia high-rises in Stuttgart to the World Trade Towers in New York, the interplay between two high-rises has always provided a fascinating challenge for architects. Such an opportunity presented itself with The Absolute Towers competition in Mississauga, Ontario, announced in November, 2006, which drew ninety-two entries from around the world. Six entries were shortlisted for a second stage, and the winning design by a young Chinese firm, MAD was announced on March 28, 2007. The project was recently completed, and the following article by John Bentley Mays, which appeared in Canadian Architect (August 2013), recounts much of the circumstances surrounding the selection process by an international jury.  -Ed


    Six years ago, when Yansong Ma’s design for the first lyrically sculptural, curvaceous Absolute World condominium tower was unveiled, some critics predicted the project would never be built at its intended location, an important crossroads in the rapidly growing Toronto edge city of Mississauga—or anywhere else. According to the naysayers, the technical hurdles involved in raising a structure this unconventional in shape would prove insurmountable. Even if someone figured out a way to put it up, they argued, doing so would be unaffordable for the Toronto-area backers, Fernbrook Homes and Cityzen Development Group. It was further alleged that investors and prospective homeowners would never buy into a residential scheme so dramatically different from standard cereal-box apartment blocks.

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    Halftime at the Nobel Center Competition

    The Adjudication Process Not Completely Anonymous  

    by Stanley Collyer                     

    butterfly2Shortlisted entry entitled "Butterfly"

    The initial phases of the international architectural competition for a new Nobel Center in Stockholm has concluded; but serious questions have already arisen concerning the adjudication process. According to the competition brief: “the competition (in the first stage) includes an overall design concept explaining how the building will relate to the surrounding urban and marine setting on Blasieholmen. The proposals are anonymous and assessed by criteria in the competition brief. The jury will not comment on any proposal until November 2013 when two to five proposals have been selected to proceed to the second stage of the competition upon which the names of the finalist architects will be revealed. Thus, the finalists will then have the possibility to participate in public discussions regarding the design of the future Nobel Center. The second stage of the competition includes further refinement. A winning proposal will tentatively be presented in April 2014. It will then make the basis for the detailed planning process.”

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    Reviving the Icon

    The Flinders Street Station Design Competition

     by Olha Romaniuk

     hhdm-melbourne cbd  flinders st aerial heroWinning Entry by HASSELL + Herzog & de Meuron

    Since its construction over a century ago, Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station has remained as an impressive example of public architecture throughout the city’s history. However, the gradual deterioration of the building over the last 50 years has greatly diminished the image of the Flinders Street Station of today. Nevertheless, despite the neglect of the upkeep, the station continues to be used by more than 150,000 passengers every day, with the intersection of Swanston and Flinders Streets remaining to be the busiest intersection in Melbourne.

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    SANAA's Cultural Tour de Force

    The Taichung City Cultural Center Competition

    by Dan Madryga

    Winning entry by SANAA
    Taichung could be the next must-visit destination for architects. Over the past few years, the Taichung city government has been holding major international design competitions as a means to dramatically redefine this Taiwanese city for the 21st century. Several intriguing projects have resulted from these efforts: Catherine Mosbach’s innovative master plan for Taichung Gateway Park, and the one-of-a-kind Taiwan Tower by Japanese architect, Sou Fujimoto.* The most recent competition for the Taichung City Cultural Center resulted in yet another compelling design, this time by SANAA, and offers another interesting window into the ambitions of Taiwan’s third largest city.

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    A Library as Ultimate Building Block

    The Helsinki Library Competition

    by William Morgan

    1st prize kaannos-9
    Winning entry by ALA

    2017 will mark one hundred years of Finland's independence from Russia. It says much about the culture of this small but vibrant Nordic country that its official centennial project is not a trade center, a conventional hall, an arena, or a war memorial, but a library. Even better, this most architecturally astute nation has chosen the designers of this new library from an international open competition. 

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  • 12/03/13--15:39: Interview: Linda Pollak
  • Juror Linda Pollak on the Taichung City Cultural Center Competition

    Interview with Stanley Collyer


    Linda Pollak is a founding member and principal of Marpillero Pollak Architects in New York City. A member of the faculty at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design from 1992-2004, Linda has been engaged in architectural practice since 1981, and landscape architectural practice since 1979, receiving her architectural license in 1988. Her commitment to research on architecture and urban landscape spans more than 20 years, informing acclaimed results in practice and theory.

    Linda recently served on the jury for the Taichung City Cultural Center competition, and talked with Stanley Collyer about the experience.

    COMPETITIONS: What about the jury process for this competition? You were there twice.

    Linda Pollak: It was organized beautifully. We received the brief and all the other materials ahead. It had to be very rigorous, as it was for a public work.

    It appeared that there were always some public officials in the room; but we didn’t know who they were. In other words, it was a really sunshine situation in terms of transparency for the government.

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    A Blueprint for Change in the Rockaways

    Devising Strategies to Guard Against Another Sandy

    by Sharon McHugh

    phaseii white boardwalkFirst place entry by White Arkitekter

    The devastation wreaked by Super Storm Sandy has awakened communities along the North Atlantic coast to their vulnerability to extreme storm surges and has spawned several competitions intended to address this issue. Foremost among these is the Far Roc Competition (For a Resilient Rockaway), which sought ideas for developing an 80+ acre City-owned site known as Arverne East into a mixed use, mixed income, sustainable and storm resilient community. Besides maintaining a balance between innovation and affordability, participants also had to take into consideration the new physical and regulatory challenges of waterfront development. Although the focus of the competition was on this particular site, it was just as much about developing strategies that could be applied to low-lying and vulnerable regions elsewhere.

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    EDGE/ucation Pavilion Design Competition

    Winning design by Bade Stageberg Cox

    Entitled Edge Portals, Bade Stageberg Cox’s design takes advantage of the site’s interlocking profile with the river by placing two new buildings on twin peninsulas at the water’s edge. Oriented towards the water, the buildings are like portals, which frame views of the landscape and create a direct connection with the river. Unlike much of New York City’s new waterfront development, Edge Portals blurs the line between shore and river, allowing water to enter the buildings and the landscape and encouraging visitors to explore beyond the water’s edge through boating, walking out onto the floating dock, and engaging with the site’s diverse ecology.

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  • 03/06/14--16:00: From OMA and BIG to Small
  • From OMA and BIG to Small

    The Miami Beach Convention Center Competition

    1 mbcc aerial from sw copyright oma

    Aerial view of design by ACE / OMA

    A once ambitious plan to renovate and expand the Miami Beach Convention Center has recently fallen victim to regime change and a new, less extensive rebuilding plan. The original plan, which resulted in a price tag escalating to $1.1 billion, was discarded after the election of the new mayor, Philip Levine, who, since taking office this year, has asked for a new start to the project and issued an RfQ in that regard. As a result of this change in the City’s strategy, the winner of the original competition, led by South Beach ACE with Rem Koolhaas and OMA has threatened legal action against the City of Miami Beach for breach of contract.


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    The "What If" Factor

    The Louisville Children’s Museum Competition

    lvcm brugger hierzer ext 01 park
    1st Place entry byStephan Brugger, Eva Hierzer & Birgit Schiretz

    By sponsoring a local ideas competition in Louisville, the Central Kentucky Chapter of the AIA was clear that this was more than about adding to the portfolios of the winning designers. They saw it as an opportunity to increase awareness of what might be and raise the bar on architectural design in the community. The other sponsor, the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) regarded it as a way to lure additional local designers and engineers to the AIA CSI annual Trade Show at the city’s convention center.



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    Looking into the Hi-Tech Future

    New Campus of the Vietnamese-German University, Ho Chi Minh City

    by Stanley Collyer

    Winning entry by Machado and Silvetti Associates

    Comprehensive plans for new towns have long been on the agenda of Asian countries. In this period of globalization, those nations are now expanding university campuses to accommodate the need for a well-trained cadre in high technology. Now in the midst of a rapid catch-up mode with its neighbors to the north, Vietnam has recognized the need for more highly specialized technicians. Since this requires new educational facilities, the country has turned to the World Bank and enlisted international expertise in its effort to accelerate this process. With aid coming from the German government, a new campus for a technology university was envisioned outside of Ho Chi Minh City.

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    Re-Thinking the University of Manitoba’s Campus

    Visionary (re)Generation International Competition

    by Carmela Cucuzzella and Camille Crossman

    uofm perspective campus
    First Place entry by Janet Rosenberg and Studio Inc. + Cibinel Architects Ltd. + Landmark Planning and Design Inc.

    At a time when universities are summoned to assume their responsibilities in the shaping of major urban areas, and in an era of ferocious educational competitions in which benchmarking and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) released by Shanghai Jiao Tong University rule the educational market, some universities have decided to take advantage of the potential power of competitions to seek excellence in design. This was the case when the University of Manitoba launched their competition for a new campus in December 2012.

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  • 05/15/14--16:45: Interview: Silvio d'Ascia
  • Interview: Silvio d’Ascia

    with Olha Romaniuk 


    COMPETITIONS: You moved from Italy to France in 1993. What was your decision behind moving and starting your architecture firm in Paris?

    Silvio D'Ascia: Ever since I was a little boy, I wanted to be an artist and, ever since the first time I went to Paris when I was 12 years old, it was a childhood dream of mine to live in such an artistic city. After receiving my degree in Italy, I came to live in Paris and was supposed to stay only for a few months. This temporary visit turned into an opportunity for me to stay and work in France.

    COMPETITIONS: How do you find the architectural scene in France compared to Italy?

    SD: The main difference between Italy and France is that in Italy there was not a competition system in place in the 1990s. Every country in Europe looked at France as a place where it was possible for a young architect to participate in and win competitions, as well as be paid for competition participation and have a chance to do research even if the competition fee was not so high. During the first year of my firm in Paris, we participated in 9 public competitions. It was a great opportunity and my main reason behind the decision to stay in Paris.


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    A Sign of the Times?

    Port of Kinmen Passenger Service Center International Competition

    by Stanley Collyer

    Winning entry by Junya Ishigami

    Times change, and plans for a new Passenger Service Center on Kinmen Island illustrate how architecture can become a symbolic indicator of the recent normalization process between The People’s Republic of China and Taiwan. During an ongoing hostile conflict decades ago, Kinmen, then often referred to as Quemoy, was the occasional target of shelling from the nearby mainland, causing locals to seek shelter on a moment’s notice. A recent atmosphere of détente between the two parties, fuelled by economic cooperation, has resulted in a drastic change in priorities for the small island: it is exchanging its old fortress-like role for that of a tourist attraction and primary sea link to the mainland.

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    The Harvard Bridge Lighting Competition

    ma f 6147
    All images courtesy Rosales + Partners

    Rosales + Partners, winners of several design competitions for bridges, including the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge in Washington, DC (COMPETITIONS, Vol. 9, #3), recently won a lighting competition for the Harvard Bridge in Boston. Historic bridges have occasionally undergone facelifts, and this is no exception. However, the fact that it turned out to be a competition was one.

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    Gearing Up for Louisville’s Centennial Riverboat Festival

    Pavilions as Functioning Waterside Attractions

    by Stanley Collyer

    Winning entry by stmpj

    The Belle of Louisville, the oldest operating steamboat in the United States, will be celebrating a century of service in October, 2014. Not only will steamboats from throughout the Mississippi river basin be part of the festivities, a design competition for pavilions, intended to be placed at strategic points along the riverfront, has been organized, and a winner announced.

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