SANAA’s Cultural Tour de Force: The Taichung City Cultural Center Competition

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.

A Library as Ultimate Building Block: The Helsinki Library Competition

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. 


Halftime at the Nobel Center Competition

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.”




Reviving the Icon: Flinders Street Station Design Competition

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.




Redesigning Detroit: Replacing a Downtown Flagship

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.


Absolutely Amazing: A High-rise Competition Thrusts a Canadian Suburb into the International Limelight

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.


Next Stop: The 2013 Burnham Prize Competition

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.




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.




Curbside Action at the New Museum: The IDEAS CITY StreetFest Tenting Competition

Curbside Action at the New Museum

The IDEAS CITY StreetFest Tenting Competition

by Stanley Collyer

03 nm foni benoit pailley 2013 9411 
Winning entry by DavidsonRafailidis (photos of completed project courtesy of DavidsonRafailidis)

New York is no stranger to design competitions for smaller projects, especially where the focus is on its streets. Among some of those, either proposed or realized, were the recent Urban Shed competition, protecting pedestrians on the sidewalks from falling debris; and, going back almost two decades, the Urban Outhouse competition. As street fairs are pretty commonplace in New York, it would seem only logical that an ideas competition for a temporary “tent” structure in front of New York’s New Museum would also generate a lot of interest. As part of the IDEAS CITY Festival during the first week in May, this year’s event included one hundred independent project and public events occupying over a square block around the New Museum. Inventors, small business owners, artists, ecologists and activists shared their products and ideas, demonstrating the value of Untapped Capital—the Festival’s current theme.


Transforming the Bridge: 2012 Cleveland Design Competition

Transforming the Bridge

2012 Cleveland Design Competition

by Stanley Collyer


First Place Entry by Archilier Architecture
All images courtesy Cleveland Design Competition

Preservation and re-use of old buildings has long been a major focus of our communities. But until recently, those same communities have regarded yesterday’s infrastructure—our railroad heritage in particular—as something to be either ignored or even erased from the urban fabric. At best, those previous rail beds have been converted into hiking and bike trails. Communities now have begun to recognize that some of these abandoned rail structures can be turned into public amenities. The High Line in New York City is certainly one of the best examples; but other projects, such as the recent conversion of Louisville’s Big Four Bridge to a walkway/bikeway across the Ohio River at Louisville, show how rapidly old perceptions regarding these structures can change.