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    A New Attraction for an Old Airfield

    Moscow's New National Center for Contemporary Arts

    by Stanley Collyer

     ncca report peng panels visualisation 4
    Winning entry by Heneghan Peng

    Contrary to previous autocratic regimes in Russia, the current visual arts community is apparently encountering few restrictions and is evidently regarded by authorities as being essentially apolitical, presenting no danger to the system—Socialist Realism is out; abstract art is in. This expansion of accessibility to contemporary art collections is attested to by the recent competition for a new National Center for Contemporary Arts in Moscow, also supported by the local Moscow administration.

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    Realizing a Major Museum Project in Record Time

    Finland’s Serlachius Museum Competition

    pg444 18
    All photos courtesy of the Serlachius Museum

    When the political will and money are there, even a winning competition design can be realized in a reasonable amount of time. By the time all the designs had been submitted to the Serlachius Museum competition in 2011, over 500 entries were received for adjudication. Just three years later, the museum is open for business and built essentially to the original plan (see model). The completed project not only adhered closely to the initial winning scheme by MX_SI Architectural Studio of Barcelona, but also provided an interior rich in detail. The result? The Museum has received high marks from the citizens of Mänttä, and this facility promises to be a regional destination for art lovers, much as the Louisiana Museum on the Danish coast has been, not far from Copenhagen. -Ed

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    DawnTown Competition: Landmark Miami



    Imagining a design competition for a Miami landmark raises a common question: “Aren’t Miami and Miami Beach actually one big city?” Since both municipalities have their own local administrative institutions and history, focusing exclusively on Miami would suggest that each entity also has its own unique identity and, therefore, its own iconic symbols. Miami Beach has no such identity problem. Ocean Drive with its art deco architecture has long been a recognizable advertising staple for the community. Moreover, a number of its recent modern buildings—Publix Supermarket by Carlos Zapata and Lincoln Road Parking Garage by Herzog de Meuron—have bolstered the city’s image as a place where cutting edge design takes place. 

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    The Zaryadye Park Competition

    and an Interview with Ken Smith

    by Stanley Collyer

    night view  2013 diller scofidio renfro with hargreaves associates and citymakers
    Winning project by Diller Scofidio + Renfro

    Could one imagine a more ideal site for a major urban park? In most cases the site for the future Zaryadye Park in Moscow could only exist in an architect’s dream world. Not only is the site located in the center of Moscow, next door to the Kremlin; it is ringed by buildings reflecting the full spectrum of Russian architecture from the 16th to the 20th centuries. Because of the site’s high visibility, the City decided to stage a limited competition for the site, with the support of the Strelka Institute for Media Architecture and Design. According to the competition brief, “the aim of the competition is to develop an architectural and landscaping design concept that will form the basis for the creation of a contemporary park with a high quality infrastructure that will be open for the public all year round.”

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    Mark Robbins Interview – Port of Kinmen Competition

    with Stanley Collyer

    Photo by Lily Kesselman


    COMPETITIONS: I’m not certain how familiar you were with previous competitions in Taiwan; but this one had much in common with previous ones, in that it was also international in format.

    MARK ROBBINS: They are quite high profile for remarkably large-scale projects.

    COMPETITIONS: This is similar to the others, and, like those, had two sessions. Were you able to take part in both of them?

    MR: Yes. It was on Kinmen Island, which I had never been to. And it has an interesting history. First of all, the U.S. government has had to figure out the deaccessioning of the bases that were military. This is a large island that had been used for military purposes, for although it is part of Taiwan geographically, it is closer to the Chinese mainland and was shelled pretty relentlessly. But because it had been closed off to development during this period, it had a very natural environment—it has one of the highest levels of biodiversity of any area in Taiwan.

    So the redevelopment of this becomes quite important, because you have an island, which is now strategically located, interestingly not for military reasons, but commercial reasons. This is expected to make it valuable because of the robust commerce between a Mainland China that still finds they can get a greater variety of consumer goods in Taiwan. Rather than flying goods in, it will be by boat, which is slower, but less expensive. So it will become a vast duty free area. And that was part of the motivation for this competition—to make a more accessible gateway for trade to and from Mainland China.

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    The Old and the New

    Glasgow’s Schools of Art

    glasgow sha 14-01 7489
    photo by Iwan Baan, courtesy Steven Holl Architects

    by Brian Carter

    The competition, organized and administered by Malcolm Reading Consultants under the auspices of the Glasgow School of Art in 2009, focused on the selection of an architect to develop proposals for a new school of art on Renfrew Street to be built directly opposite the 1896 building designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. After some initial opposition from Scottish architects, the competition was opened to international participation. Seven practices (1) were reviewed by an eight member selection committee chaired by David MacKay. The committee agreed unanimously to appoint Steven Holl Architects, who worked in collaboration with JM Architects and Arup. (2)

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    Surfer's Paradise Goes Cultural

    The Gold Coast Cultural Precinct Competition

    by Stanley Collyer

    arm art scape
    Winning entry by ARM Architecture

    Are a Surfer’s Paradise and a significant emphasis on culture mutually compatible? Australia’s City of Gold Coast thinks so, as evidenced by its ambitious competition for a new cultural precinct. The site of the Cultural Precinct competition is the Evandale district, separated by a river and Chevron Island from the city’s premier attraction—Surfer’s Paradise. As indicated by the latter’s name, the city has gained a large share of its revenue as a tourist attraction. Outside of the inviting coastline, there is much to supplement the entertainment needs of tourists, including 40 golf courses and five theme parks. But as Australia’s fastest growing city—now at almost 600,000—the focus has now turned to the arts as a major asset.

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  • 09/11/14--15:53: ADD-ON '13
  • ADD-ON '13

    Affordable Housing for Cape Cod

    by William Morgan

    Winning entry by CxMxD


    The goal of the Add-on '13 competition was to "seek design proposals for a freestanding, affordable, accessory dwelling unit on outer Cape Cod." Specifically, the town of Wellfleet, Massachusetts has a bylaw that allows a second living unit–and even up to three extra units–on the lot of an existing home. At the moment, the fishing and resort village has a dozen such accessory dwellings. But the nobler aim of the Add-on competition was to "consider the role of affordable housing" in a non-urban context and to "re-envision the relationship between architecture, infrastructure, resources and the land." Despite the seeming modesty of the program–800 square-foot, single bedroom units, to cost less than $150,000, Add-on '13 was a significant contest.

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    Interview with Steve Wiesenthal, University of Chicago

    Campus Architect

    with Stanley Collyer


    Finalists clockwise from top left: Studio Gang, Perkins and Will, Hopkins Architects, BIG


    COMPETITIONS: Based on past and recent history, the University of Chicago seems to be concentrating on exceptional design. Just being in Chicago might be one reason; but you have instituted a competitive design process. How did this come about?

    STEVE WIESENTHAL: For every project we undertake, we do an in-depth analysis about the best delivery process, the types of architects we think might be best for those types of projects, and, in the case of the residence hall—which is not just a residence hall, but dining commons, some class rooms, and some other community-type spaces—we had a pretty good idea programmatically what we wanted. The site is on the edge of campus and had on it a 1962 residence hall that was pretty much a fortress up against the surrounding community in Hyde Park. At the primary intersection of campus and community, there was a loading dock and a giant brick wall. We saw this site as an opportunity to dramatically change the relationship between campus and community and thought that what we really wanted to find in the architectural community was ideas that would create the best college housing experience for our students and layer onto that this notion that it would completely change the experience for everybody else on the campus. It’s a big site; we actually expanded it. We incorporated what had been a practice field for our athletic program. The idea was that we create a whole new quadrangle for the campus.

    Again, I don’t think I would do a design competition for a high performance physical sciences laboratory building where you want to generate the program and design in parallel. The fact that we had a clear program and high aspirations for the urban plan of this, suggested approaching architects in a competition mode.


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    University of Chicago North Campus Student Residence

    r08 ne corner edit
    Winning entry by Studio Gang with Mortensen Construction—Image courtesy Studio Gang ©University of Chicago

    Like many American universities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the University of Chicago viewed Gothic architecture as a recognizable symbol to suggest academic excellence in the tradition of Ivy League universities and Oxford. In this, Chicago was not alone, as other schools used a similar formula to imply a connection to a pre-existing academic tradition—Duke University and Butler University in the 1920s being prime examples. As time passed, and to accommodate Chicago’s reputation architecturally as a forward-looking community, the university gradually hired contemporary architects such as Eero Saarinen, Mies van der Rohe, Edward Larrabee Barnes, Walter Netsche and Harry Weese to add to the university’s built fabric. Beginning with the early 21st century, the look on the campus has been updated even more to reflect current trends with buildings by Cesar Pelli, Helmut Jahn, Rafael Viñoly, Joe Valerio, and most recently, the musum by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien.

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    Adaptive Reuse of a Hospital Site

    The Royal Adelaide Hospital Competition

    view of plaza from gardens
    Winning entry by SLASH + Phillips with Pilkington Architects

    As a building type, hospitals have an unfortunate propensity toward early obsolesce and therefore are often the target of adaptive reuse, if not total demolition. This has been the case in Adelaide, Australia, where the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) is being replaced by a brand new structure, to be dedicated in 2016. Faced with this impending change, the South Australian Government decided to initiate a “design led engagement process to explore possibilities for the current RAH site.” A significant element in this process included an international open ideas design competition, and the focus of this competition was “to create an iconic place within the Greater Riverbank Precinct of Adelaide.

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    A Challenging Site for Calgary’s New Library

    Snøhetta Tops Four Firms in Invited Competition

    new central library active 3rd street se plaza
    Winning design by Snøhetta (image courtesy Calgary Public Library)

    The site of Calgary’s new public library will occupy part of a city block, directly across from the City Hall. One might assume that a project of this size would have deserved a more spacious, flexible site. However, the location the library here was regarded as an important urban statement, not just for downtown Calgary, but also for the East Village neighborhood. That the intended site was also home to a trolley line was not enough to cause the City to abandon this strategy. According to the client, “The location of the new library, adjacent to City Hall, will strengthen the fabric of community life by weaving East Village, the original heart of Calgary, back into the story of Centre City. From this prime location, the library will not only serve Calgary’s growing population but also the 140,000+ workers and students who travel downtown every day.”

    Locating a main library in the center of a metropolitan area, regardless of the density issue, is a logical solution. The location of the new Grande Bibliothèque by Patkau Architects in Montreal’s downtown is a great example of what a major public institution can do for a neighborhood. In that case, a nearby Metro line has made the library easily accessible to most of the city’s inhabitants. It can be assumed that the same will hold true for Calgary.

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    Science and Fiction Museum, Washington, DC

    By Stanley Collyer

    1st Place entry by Emily Yen (image copyright Emily Yen)

    The recently completed Science and Fiction Museum competition in Washington, DC is not unusual, in that it contemplates the marriage of literature and architecture in one location, as do libraries. It is different in that it deals with a very specialized theme, much as the Poetry Museum in Chicago. Still, Science Fiction is a relatively recent phenomenon in literature, but has rapidly gained a large audience. Although there is already such a facility in Seattle, it was time that an institution focusing on this subject to be located in our nation’s capital—a primary destination for tourists.

    To start, this emerging non-profit has been seeking a site in Washington, DC, and, until that occurs, is planning an easily accessible temporary structure, which can be moved from one location to another—the subject of this 2014 design competition.

    The competition drew 121 entries from all over the world, with the first- and second-place winners residing in the U.S. The entries were adjudicated by a largely local jury from the Washington, DC area. And the competition was ably administered by local architect, Jerry Vanek.

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  • 01/20/15--15:38: Vienna School of Economics
  • An Academic Cluster Pointing to the Future

    The Vienna School of Economics Campus Plan

    By Stanley Collyer

    School of Economics by Zaha Hadid (all photos by Stanley Collyer)

    At the turn of the 21st Century, the School of Economics in Vienna (Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien), the largest of its kind in Europe, was bursting at the seams. Over 23,000 students were scattered throughout different sites in the city. When it became obvious that it would be necessary to consolidate the programs at a central location, the decision was made to select an area near the Prater for the new campus—the site of the World Exhibition Area and Fairgrounds. The building program was ambitious, with a number of facilities planned to accommodate all the programs, and the plan was typically European, as student dormitories were not envisaged as an integral part of the new campus.

    To begin with, a local Viennese firm, BUSarchitektur, was engaged to complete a masterplan for the site, and number of renowned architects were then commissioned to design the various facilities: No.MAD Arquitectos, CRABstudio Architects, Estudio Carme Pinós, Atelier Hitoshi Abe, and BUSarchitektur, the latter being the author of the masterplan.

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    From Icon to Functionality

    Northwestern University's Medical Research Center Competition

    by Dan Madryga

    The finalists (from left to right): Perkins+Will, Adrian Smith+Gordon Gill, Goettsch Partners

    Northwestern University is getting a major architectural facelift. Over the past few years, the university has staged several invited design competitions for large-scale building projects on its Chicago and Evanston campuses. A new 152,000 square foot building for the Bienen School of Music and Communication, designed by Goettsch Partners, is currently under construction and slated to open later this year. Meanwhile the 410,000 square foot Kellogg School of Business—for which Toronto firm KPMB beat out Kohn Pedersen Fox, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, and Pelli, Clark & Pelli for the commission—is expected to be ready for occupancy in 2016. As large as these projects are, Northwestern’s most recent invited competition dwarves them both in scale, budget, and ambition: a brand new Medical Research Center for the Feinberg School of Medicine.

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    The Earth as an Affordable Housing Alternative

    Ghana’s Mud House Design Competition

    1st Place entry by M.A.M.O.T.H

    For years, the earth has long been the basic construction material for houses in rural Ghana. Although 98% of the houses in the Abetenim area of Ashanti province—typical of warm, humid climate conditions—are made of earth, stereotypes about this building type persist because of eroding which takes place from poor construction and water damage. This has resulted in a stigma associated with mud architecture and the local perception that mud architecture is only for the poor. Instead of earth, metal and cement block have become the material of choice—at a considerable expense.

    In light of this problem, the Nka Foundation, a non-profit organization dealing with art and design in Africa, staged the Mud House Design Competition—to encourage designers, architects and builders to use their creativity to come up with innovative designs for modest, affordable homes that can be built locally. The focus of the design was to aim at creating a single family and semi-urban house type that would be a place to live, a place to rest, store modest belongings, and feel safe.

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    Bernard Tschumi On Competitions

    Interview with Stanley Collyer sm  peter mauss
    FIU School of Architecture, Miami, FL, 1999-2003 (© Peter Mauss)

    COMPETITIONS: You grew up in an architectural environment; so was this always going to be your future, or did you speculate about doing anything else?

    BERNARD TSCHUMI: My father was an architect, and I believe a very good one. But at first my inclination was more in the literary and philosophical realms. But then, living in cities, experiencing cities had a great fascination for me. And that’s how I became an architect.

    COMPETITIONS: I was in Parc de la Villette in Paris shortly after it was completed. Winning that competition must have been a game changer for you.

    BT: It was a real game changer, because, until then, I had never entered a real competition. I had pursued rather theoretical research for almost ten years, and I decided it was time to test some of the conceptual ideas in a real project. Clients don’t just appear out of the blue; so like many young architects I entered an anonymous competition with a lot of entries. By an incredible set of circumstances, out of 476 entries, I won it. In a way, it was really an attempt to translate and transpose certain ideas and concepts that had been explored prior to the competition and through the competition.

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    A Conversation with an Icon

    Steven Holl Wins the Mumbai City Museum Competition

    sha 02 pan view extra long
    Winning entry by Steven Holl

    The decision to stage an international competition for a “North Wing extension” to the Mumbai City Museum had to be an interesting challenge for the organizers. The present building, also known as the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum (photos, left and opposite), was dedicated in 1872 and had a distinct English colonial flavor, with emphasis on the Victorian. It had recently undergone a major restoration, and the interior is certainly one of the major examples of architecture of the pre-modern age in India. With that in mind, the initial question for any structural addition—aside from space requirements—had to be: what should it look like, and how would it relate to the existing museum?

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    Return of a Favorite Son to the Windy City?

    CAC’s Barack Obama Library Competition

    2014 chicago prize - winners - chicago architectural club-5

    Winning entry by Zhu Wenyi, Fu Junsheng, and Liang Yiang (all images courtesy of the CAC)

    During the 2008 presidential campaign, there was the perception that a Barack Obama presidency would usher in an era of new ideas. Years later, there has been some isolated progress, but partisan politics has limited any wiggle room an Obama presidency might have enjoyed. Still, there is a hope for a final decision by this president that could set a precedent for the foreseeable future: a design competition for a presidential library. A successful national competition for such a project could set an example to be emulated many times over at state and municipal levels by a tested democratic process.

    Although the site of a Barack Obama Presidential Library has not yet been determined, the list has been whittled down to three possibilities: Chicago, New York and Hawaii. Although Hawaii is the President’s birthplace, and New York would have a large number of visitors, Chicago would seem to be the logical favorite, as it is the place where Obama’s political future began in its meteoric rise, culminating in his election to the nation’s highest office.

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    Mesa's Answer to Urban Sprawl

    The Major Redesign of a City Center

    by Stanley Collyer

    20140813 aerial context future growth
    Winning Entry - Image courtesy Colwell Shelor

    Designing a city plaza as a “people place” is no small challenge. One only has to recall the various redesigns that Pershing Square in Los Angeles went through, or Seattle’s Pioneer Square, to recognize how intent and reality were often in conflict. In both of these temperate climate municipalities, the image of an otherwise welcoming destination was tarnished by an unforeseen presence of the homeless.

    The City of Mesa, in sunny Arizona, believes that a new plaza, well connected to the surrounding urban environment, can present “a signature public space” that will not only serve as a destination for public activities, but also as a catalyst for downtown revitalization. It would appear that a number of favorable conditions already exist: city administration buildings are located directly within the two block site area; Arizona’s largest art center borders the area to the south; and the city library is in the block immediately facing the site to the north. With this kind of built-in pedestrian activity, the site should be well positioned to attract a higher-than-average number of locals and visitors.

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