New Taoyuan City Main Public Library, Taiwan


Creating a Culture Cluster

 


©Azusa Sekkei

 

Located in the Zhongzheng Arts District of Taoyuan, the new city public library, to be situated next door to the Taoyuan Arts Center, is the newest building block in what is intended to become a cultural center in the city. No longer just a book repository, libraries have embraced the digital age and are now providing additional activities for the community such as lectures, occupational therapy (OT) projects, theme restaurants, etc. In the case of the Taoyuan City Library, a cinema is also to be added.

 

The competition for this US$60 million project was organized as an invited, one-stage competition—not counting the initial short-listing phase—which concluded with the selection of 10 firms. In the first, “tender” phase, a local Taiwanese firm could, but was not required to, team up with a foreign architecture firm. In any case, the “Representative Tenderer had to be a registered architect in Taiwan, but were encouraged to invited international architects to join with them. Thus, foreign firms, not registered in Taiwan, were not allowed to enter without teaming up with a domestic firm.

 

The ten local “tenderers” were:

 

  • Habitech Architects
  • Bio-Architecture Formosana
  • HCW Architects & Associates
  • M.H. WANG Architects and Associates
  • Chien Architects & Associates
  • Imagineering Architects (Taiwan)
  • T.C.K. Architect Engineer Planner
  • Q-LAB
  • Cosmos International

Although we do not know who the five local unranked firms teamed up with during the final adjudication process, three of the five finalists teams did include outside participation, including that of the winner.

 

■ First place - T.C.K. Architect Engineer Planner + Azusa Sekkei (Japan)

■ Second place - Ricky Liu & Associates (Taiwan)

■ Third place - Habitech Architects + Tange Associates (Japan)

■ Fourth place - Bio-Architecture Formosana + MVRDV (Netherlands)

■ Fifth place - Q-LAB (Taiwan)

 

Although one outside structural engineer, Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl, a professor at Berkeley, was originally scheduled to participate on the jury, the catastrophic collapse of a highrise in Teheran caused by a fire, resulted in his call to investigate the disaster. Still, one should note that five of the eight panelists were architects from Taiwan.

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Hannes Meyer’s German Workers’ Seminar in Berlin as UNESCO Heritage Site


When we recently learned that Bauhaus Director Hannes Meyer's Bundesschule ADGB (German Workers' Seminar in Berlin/Bernau) had been designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO, we felt it was an opportunity to toot our own horn. Back in 2007, when a renovation of the complex had just been completed, we were given a tour of the facility and subsequently did a feature article on that 1928 competition in our COMPETITIONS quarterly magazine (Vol. 17, #4). Hardly six months passed before we learned that the site had received the initial award for the 2008 World Monuments Fund Modernism Prize. In most cases, we wouldn't have made a case for any influence that may have resulted from our publication, except that one member of that 3-person jury happened to be on our distribution list. So when the UNESCO designation occurred, we also received congratulations from a member of the German committee responsible for the renovation—for any role we may have played in the matter.

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The Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art


Tadao Ando © Laio (all other photos by author)

 

When you think of iconic libraries in the United States, Louis Kahn’s Kiimball Library in Fort Worth, Texas is one of the first that comes to mind. But space in the old existing Museum of Modern Art as well as in the Kahn building was limited; so in 1996 a competition was organized to select an architect, based on a winning design. The competition, which was documented in our quarterly (COMPETITIONS, Vol. 8,#1), was supplemented by an insightful article by the former Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Arlington, George Wright. He mentioned that the competition took place at the same time that the competition was occurring for MOMA in New York, but that this did not deter architects from the first echelon from submitting their qualifications for a shortlist.

 

From that group, Tadao Ando from Japan won out over Richard Gluckman (New York), Arata Isozaki (Tokyo), Ricardo Legorreta (Mexico City), and David Schwartz (Dallas).

 

The brief stipulated that the new museum should “neither mimic the Kimball nor dispute its primacy.” As a very modern giant box with protruding galleries breaking up the façade by facing out into the lagoon, Ando’s design did neither. But its very spacious entrance and lobby area was an immediate sign that it was a different kind of museum. Consisting for the most part of large volumes, it was ideally designed to accommodate 21st Century art installations and art works.

 


Visiting such an important facility more than a decade after its opening was an opportunity to examine how the museum has stood the test of time. From my perspective, it is certainly one of the best museums dedicated solely to modern art that I have visited—a view affirmed by others accompanying me on this visit, most of whom were not architects but frequent museum visitors.

 

Aside from the many attributes of the main building, the landscaping, containing a large lagoon surrounding the structure, was also masterfully conceived. As a shallow element at the edge of the building, one could see an artwork by Jenny Holzer, illuminated words in red, carrying a message out of the building into the shallows. Also of special note, exemplifying the spatial attributes of the building, was Martin Puryear’s Ladder for Booker T. Washington (left), an obvious crowd favorite.

 

This building, exquisite in its finished concrete interior and spatial planning, with a flexibility to accommodate all kinds of modern art, is an example not only of good architecture in the broader sense, but also turning the landscape into an art form.

 


Martin Puryear - Ladder for Booker T. Washington

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Qatar Art Mill Competition

 

 

ELEMENTAL was selected by an international jury, from 26-strong longlist, based on their strategies for the site and its links to the city. ELEMENTAL’s concept design for the historic waterfront site in the centre of Doha took as its inspiration the rhythmic monumental grain silos that are the industrial legacy of the original Flour Mills on the site, which have produced bread for the State since the 1980s. However, in a creative riff, the team added to the strict geometry of retained silos a looser grouping of new silos that will act as cooling chimneys circulating air through the site that extends spectacularly on three sides into Doha Bay.

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Remembrance on the Pacific Rim: The Canterbury Earthquake Memorial Dedication


Winning entry:
Graga Vezjek Architect (Image © Simon Baker)

 

Living on the Pacific Rim can be a risky business. In L2010, Christchurch, New Zealand suffered a devastating series of earthquakes, resulting in the virtual destruction of half of the city’s urban fabric in the downtown area, the destruction of 100,000 homes, and the deaths of 185 of its inhabitants.

 

When we first heard of this disaster, one of our concerns was the survival of the new Christchurch Art Gallery, a stunning modern structure, which was the result of a 1998 design competition won by the Buchan Group of Sydney.* Based on the success of that competition, and its strong support by the local populace, using a similar process to select a design for a memorial to commemorate the victims of this disaster would have seemed to be a logical strategy.

 


Christchurch Art Gallery by Buchan Group (Sydney, Australia)
Competition (1998)
Completion (2003)

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Science Island Design Competition



Image © SMAR Architecture Studio

 

Until the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1989, the occupied Baltic countries were known for their hi-tech contributions to the Soviet economy. As a carryover from that period, the Baltic nations still emphasize technology as a major factor in their economies. Thus, the establishment of a new Science museum by Lithuania in the nation’s capital of Kaunas is hardly surprising. To highlight the importance of this project, the government turned to a design competition, providing the museum with international exposure and attracting the attention of the global architectural community.

 

The stated purpose of the new project was clear from the competition brief:

 

‘Science Island’s mission is to popularize science through hands-on enquiry and exposition and celebrate recent achievements in science and global technologies. The Centre, within the celebrated university city of Kaunas, one of UNESCO’s global creative cities, will focus particularly on environmental themes and ecosystems, demonstrating sustainability and future energy technologies in the design of its own building. The circa 13,000 sqm site for the development is ideally positioned in close proximity to Kaunas’ historic Centras district, and most of Lithuania’s nearly three million residents live under an hour’s drive away.’

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The Estonian National Museum Realized

  A Former Soviet Airstrip in the Service of Estonian Cultural History     In 2005 the Estonian government decided to stage an international competition as a means of selecting a design for a new National Estonian Museum. Since there was already a Museum of Estonian History in Tallinn, the capital, one might assume that this was one factor ... Read more...

Estonian National Museum Competition (2006)



View of completed project Photo: ©Takuji Shimmura Winning team: Lina Ghotmeh, Dan Dorell, Tsuyoshi Tane

 

Architecture in the service of the state can be a powerful tool. It lets a faceless bureaucracy present itself as a real thing. It can make ideals and memories into concrete facts. And it is usually big. A recent competition for a new National Museum in the small country of Estonia shows the potential and pitfalls of such a national architecture. While it can define the state, what does that mean when the state as a concept is a difficult idea these days? Now that true power lies not only with multinationals, but also with trans-national organizations like the European Union, of which Estonia has been a member since 2004, what is the state? Moreover, what history does a country that was only independent between 1925 and 1941, and then again since 1991, really have as such? What future can it imagine for itself? What is there left for architecture to represent?

 

The answer, if we can believe the results of the recent Estonian National Museum Competition, whose winner was announced this spring, is that architecture can use place above all else for meaning. This means not just utilizing the site in terms of its geography and geology, but also looking at, preserving and focusing on the full range of uses to which that site has been put, as well as the larger implications –both physically and conceptually—that a site might have. Everything human beings have done with a place, everything they have built there, and every association they have with a site as part of a much larger whole is the basic material the architect can use to design a construction that will bring out all of this history and all of these latent associations. The winning design in this competition, “Memory Field,” submitted by a multinational group of architects Dan Dorell and Lina Ghotmeh from Paris, and Tsuyoshi Tane from London, certainly accomplished this expression of place with a clear and simple proposal.

 

The site for the Estonian National Museum is not, as one might expect, in Estonia’s charming capital, Tallinn, but in the second largest city, Tartu. Located a few hours to the East of the seaside capital, almost on the border with Russia, Tartu is an industrial and trading node at the edge of the vast planes of pine forests and tundra that stretch from here to Siberia. It was on the outskirts of Tartu, in an 18th century manor house, that local agitators for defining a national identity by preserving local culture conceived the museum before there was even a country. In 1909 they began collecting “Finno-Ugric” (as the local population is called) artifacts and displaying them to show citizens that there were traditions of which they should be proud. Clothing, implements and especially lacework all showed the culture of a rapidly disappearing peasant population. Later, films documenting those peoples also joined the collections.

 

During the Second World War, the Museum moved to downtown Tartu, and it wasn’t until recently that the decision was made to reoccupy the former site. In the meantime, a large Russian airbase, now abandoned, took over much of the area, and its disused landing strip points directly at the site’s core, while the ruins of the military complex dwarf the remains of the former manor estate. A small lake provides a bucolic counterpoint to this rather bleak collection of artifacts. “This is the frozen edge of Europe,” says Winy Maas, who was part of the competition jury; “it is where you have a collection of incredible textiles dating back to the 14th century, but it will be housed on a site where wolves roam. You are really between worlds, and we thought the most important thing was to define that condition.”

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Syracuse National Veterans Resource Center

 

An Interview with Dean Michael Speaks

 


Winning entry by ©SHoP Architects - View from Waverly Avenue

 

In this interview, juror Michael Speaks was clear that his remarks were that of an individual juror and that he in no way was speaking for the entire jury. In other words, this could not be considered as an official jury report.

 

COMPETITIONS: As for research possibilities, isn’t this new facility programmatically about reentry into civilian life by veterans?

 


Michael Speaks: Many veterans are non-traditional students, and having a prominent location and facility on campus for them is important. Indeed, one of the Veterans organizations to be housed in the National Veterans Resource Center (NVRC) is the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). But, as you note, returning to a university campus that is welcoming is important, and the NVRC will serve as the central point of that re-entry.

 


You may know that Syracuse really grew to become a large university after the Second World War, based largely on veterans returning from the war and taking advantage of veteran’s benefits. There is a long history at Syracuse of involvement with the veterans’ community. When our new Chancellor, Kent Syverud, was hired, he made veterans' affairs and veterans' issues a central part of his administration and agenda. As I recall, during his first address as Chancellor, he emphasized veterans' issues as one of the most important issues to be addressed by his administration.

 


COMPETITIONS: From your experiences with competitions, you have experienced both open and invited competitions (Taiwan Taoyuan Terminal 3 competition). I wondered what was behind this choice for an invited competition process.

 


MS: Over the past 18 months we have been involved with developing a University Master Plan with Sasaki Associates. Early on the masterplan was designated a framework rather than plan, emphasizing that it would be a living document that would adapt and change over time. That plan was signed off on last May. Although it was never completely finished—it was called a ‘draft framework plan.’ The NVRC was is to be among the very first built projects to emerge from that framework plan. The decision was made to run the NVRC building selection as a competition, something the university had not done before. In the past, more typically there would have been a request for qualifications and sometimes a request for proposals, but never a competition as such. At least that is my understanding.

 


The idea for the two-stage competition was that the NVRC would be the first building project that resulted from the framework plan. It would be an important project in itself; but it would also announce the true start of the building process. The NVRC is necessarily located on one of the most prominent sites on the campus, and so there was great interest .in attracting world class design talent for the design of the building. As such, it would be a fitting project to celebrate the university’s history with veterans and the veterans community and to announce the commencement of the framework building process.

The: the university decided in consultation with the members of the campus framework advisory group and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, to use the competition as the means of procuring a design firm to design the building. The decision was made to hire Martha Thorne, who is the Dean of the School of Architecture at the IE Madrid and Executive Director of the Pritzker Prize, as professional adviser.

 


COMPETITIONS: So my question is, why an invited competition, rather than an open competition, as was the case where you were a juror in Taiwan?

 

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TWIN CREEKS: Trail as Experience Maker


First Place entry by Apliz Architecture (Images © Apliz)

 

Parks are becoming more than just a place for relaxation, hiking and recreation. They are becoming places to experience high design. One of the best examples, which has set the bar higher, is La Villette in Paris, where Barnard Tschumi designed a number of “follies” to enliven the park experience.

 

Now numerous examples abound here in the states, where landscape architects such as Michael Van Valkenburgh, Peter Walker, Chris Reed and George Hargreaves have added visual elements to their park designs. To give the Orange County Great Park an added feature, Ken Smith went so far as to feature a balloon ride to the former navy airstrip.

 

Kansas City saw a trail as an opportunity to add to the pedestrian biking and hiking experience. As part and parcel of a competition to enhance the visual and connective aspects of the trail, the organizers identified four “stations” along the way where the journey could take on additional meaning.

 

The illustrations and directions in the competition brief provided the competitors with a clear and exemplary framework for presenting creative solutions.




Map © Twin Creeks Design Competition


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