The Biennial Lakefront Kiosk Competition

by Stanley Collyer

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Winning entry by Ultramoderne

ÂÂÂÂÂ Ki-osk: 1. in Turkey and Persia an open pavilion; 2. a building of similar construction such as a newsstand, etc. What is a Biennial with architecture as the central theme without a competition?

The Chicago Biennial not only has invited a number of high profile architects from around the world to participate in various events stretching over several months, but looked for a suitable theme and site to showcase what modern architecture is all about. They settled on a Kiosk Competition on the city’s lakeshore next to Millennium Park, a high traffic area in all but the winter months. There are to be four kiosks—one to be the result of the competition—and all are to be permanent structures. It is no surprise that scores of kiosks are already commonplace on Chicago’s lakeshore, taking advantage of the streams of summer visitors who are drawn to the shore of Lake Michigan. Overseen by the Chicago Park District, over forty kiosks punctuate the shoreline, which during the summer offer food, retail, and recreational services—ranging from beverages to clothing to surf rentals.

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The shoreline of Lake Michigan has always played a central role in Chicago’s urban identity. During the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, architect Daniel Burnham sought to incorporate the lake into the fairgrounds, and his 1909 Plan for Chicago proposed to reclaim the entire length of the lakefront as a place of leisure for all inhabitants of the city—an idea realized during the 20th century. Today, the lakefront is a celebrated and heavily used public space that is a major destination for both visitors and local residents. It features over twenty miles of public parks and beaches, as well as pedestrian and cycling routes.

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The Competition

Organized in partnership with the Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago, The Lakefront Kiosk Competition issued a call for an inventive design of a new kiosk to be installed on the lakefront. The competition attracted wide interest, both domestically and internationally: 421 entries were received from 40 countries. The winning competition entry and the three commissioned kiosks are to be displayed in Millennium Park during the Chicago Architecture Biennial (October 2015 – January 2016). Instalation of all four kiosks on the lakefront is scheduled for the spring of 2016.

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The competition’s announced winner, Ultramoderne, received the BP Prize, which includes a $10,000 honorarium and a $75,000 budget to realize the design.

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The competition jury was comprised of:

David Adjaye, Adjaye Associates, London, U.K. Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang Architects, Chicago Joseph Grima, Chicago Architecture Biennial Sarah Herda, Chicago Architecture Biennial Sharon Johnston, Johnston Marklee and Associates, Los Angeles Michael J. O’Brien, BP, Chicago Rob Rejman, Chicago Park District

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Designing for the Workplace: UNO/WHO Headquarters Extension Competition

by Stanley Collyer

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Winning entry by Berrel Berrel Kräutler AG (image courtesy BBK)

For all its perceived shortcomings, the United Nations Organization (UNO) can make a good case for its approach to the design of its facilities located in Geneva, Switzerland. Leading up to the most recent competition for the Headquarters Extension of the WHO offices, it staged three successful competitions: • For the 1966 World Health Organization (WHO) Headquarters building, won by Swiss architect, Jean Tschumi; • For the 2000 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) building, won by the German firm, Behnisch Architekten; • For the 2006 WHO/UNAIDS building, won by the Austrian firm, Baumschlager & Eberle As the principal anchor of the WHO headquarters complex, the 1966 building, now over a half century old, has not only seen the deterioration of its basic mechanical systems and programmatic changes, but has not kept pace with the needs generated by the world’s health crisis. This necessitated the on-site construction of seven temporary or precast structures, none of which were the result of any architectural guidelines or urban planning and did not conform to present code standards. Studies undertaken by the client indicated that future requirements of the organization would be best served by eliminating the seven temporary/precast structures and undertaking the construction of a brand new building to facilitate the incorporation of the various programs in closer proximity, while completely retrofitting the 1966 structure. According to the study, “the analysis showed that it would be possible to reduce the energy consumption of the HQ site in Geneva of 8.25 Kwh/year to potentially 3.37 Kwh/year by investing more in high quality long-term energy efficient solutions, which would consequently result in potentially important cost savings in the HQ operating budget over the next 40-year lifecycle.” The competition brief outlined seven requirements, which had to be included in the design of the new building: • The new building is to accommodate a minimum of 770 work places (administration, office spaces); • Reception, exhibition and entertaining spaces; • Conference space (with a capacity for 500 to 600 people, divisible into four rooms, which could be used simultaneously); • “SHOC room” area • Underground garage with 500-700 parking spaces • Archives and technical services The success of this concept was dependent on phasing, which foresaw more of the programs moved to the present Main Building during demolition and construction of the new building. With the completion of the new building, programs could be moved into that structure, while the Main Building was undergoing renovation. The Competition The design competition for the new building was run according to Swiss competition rules, with anonymity being maintained during both the first and second stages. An international jury was impaneled, and the jury had to sign off on the competition brief before the competition launch. According to the competition brief, “The Jury shall approve the regulations, specifications and program of the competition, and shall answer queries from the candidates. It shall assess the competition proposals, decide on their ranking, and award the prizes and any awards. It shall produce a report on its final decision and issue recommendations for further action.” The Jury thus signed up for a comprehensive set of obligations, in excess of what is usually required of most juries, and indicating that this competition was not only well conceived, but well financed in light of the time demands required of the panel. The First Stage jury* was composed of: Mr. Dominique Perrault (Chair) Architect, France Members: Dr Mariyam Shakeela: WHO EB, Chair of the Executive Board Dr Margaret Chan: WHO, Director-General Dr Hans Troedsson: WHO, Assistant Director-General –

Mr. Alexandre Fasel: Mission of Switzerland (DFAE), Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Switzerland

Mr. François Reinhard: FIPOI, Director Mrs. Isabel Girault: Canton of Geneva, Director-General, Urban Planning Department Mr. Bernard Tschumi: Architect, USA Mrs. Momoyo Kaijima: Architect, Japan Mr. Diébédo Francis Kéré: Architect, Burkina Faso Mr. Bernard Kouhry: Architect, Lebanon Mr. François de Marignac: Architect, Switzerland Mrs. Julia Zapata: Architect, Switzerland To satisfy entry requirements, architects not only had to establish their credentials as registered architects, but also pay a registration fee in the amount of CHF 250 or 200 €. It can probably be assumed that the size of this registration fee was intended not only to attract firms with considerable resources, but also discourage small firms from participating and keep the numbers of entries at a manageable level. As a result, 327 paid registrations were received, and 253 entries were submitted and deemed complete and presented for preliminary review, excluding two entries, which were identified as identical and submitted twice. From the latter, The shortlisted teams for participation in the Second Stage were to receive CHF12,000 in compensation. The top-ranked teams were also to receive substantial prize money.

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The Guggenheim Helsinki Competition Draws 1,715 Entries From Around The World

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Winning Entry by Moreau Kusunoki Architectes

The Guggenheim Helsinki Winners on Stage in New York by Jayne Merkel

 

Staging a completely open, international competition for one of their museum projects marked a significant departure for the Guggenheim Foundation. The Bilbao Museum had been an invited competition won by Frank Gehry, and the more recent Whitney Museum project in New York was a Renzo Piano commission. So the Helsinki Guggenheim project—though without any guarantee from the Finns that it will be built—was open to all comers, completely absent of shortlisting based on size of office or any history of built projects. But this was Finland, and that Scandinavian country is known for opening up important projects to international competitors—the most recent Helsinki Library and Serlachius Museum competitions being prime examples.

The soothing circular auditorium beneath the rotunda of Frank Lloyd Wright’s New York Guggenheim Museum was an unusually suitable setting for the revelation of the winning design for the proposed Helsinki Guggenheim and a discussion of the process that led to its selection. On July 1, the winners of the competition, Hiroko Kusunoki and Nicolas Moreau, of Moreau Kusunoki Architectes in Paris, took turns describing their scheme as they showed an impressive series of drawings and models. After their presentation, they joined a discussion, moderated by Architectural Record Editor Cathleen McGuigan, with Guggenheim staff members Ari Wiseman and Troy Conrad Therrien. Wiseman, a Deputy Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, has shepherded the competition from the conception stage in 2013. Therrien, the Curator of Architecture and Digital Initiatives, has created the state-of-the-art digital archive that has brought this competition and its entries into the public domain. Although their English was sometimes halting, Kusunoki and Moreau managed to explain the thinking process that brought their scheme into being with a charming combination of confidence and modesty. Then they showed a few other projects they have already managed to build at their young firm. The couple met in Tokyo, where Kusunoki worked for Shigeru Ban after graduating from the Shibaura Institute of Technology there. Moreau, who was educated at l’École Nationale d’Architecture de Belleville in Paris, started out at SANAA, where he worked on the New Museum in New York, then joined Kengo Kuma and Associates. The two paired up to start a Parisian office for Kuma in 2008 and formed their own firm three years later.

 

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From left: Jan Wurm, technical team leader, ARUP; Hiroko Kusunoki, Principal, Moreau Kusunoki Architectes; Nicolas Moreau, Principal, Moreau Kusuonoki Architects; Pekka Pakkanen, Architect, Huttunen Lipasti Pakkanen Architects. Photo: Ritta Supperi

 


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Mesa’s Answer to Urban Sprawl: The Major Redesign of a City Center

 

by Stanley Collyer

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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. To flesh out the best design for the 18.3-acre site, the City decided to stage an invited design competition. The first step was a call for expressions of interest, to which 18 firms responded. Of these, three were shortlisted to compete in the subsequent design competition. The competing teams were undoubtedly aware of the passage of a $70M City bond issue, which is allowing Mesa to allot $750,000 for design of the plaza site. Because this was a real project, each firm was to receive $25,000 upon completion of their entry. Under the supervision of Jeffrey McVay, a planner and the Manager of Downtown Transformation, a committee made up of principals from the City administration with only one exception—the Director of the Downtown Mesa Association—convened to arrive at a shortlist for the competition. It consisted of:
  1. Jeffrey McVay, AICP – Manager of Downtown Transformation
  2. Christine Zielonka – Director, Development and Sustainability Department
  3. John Wesley, AICP – Planning Director, Mesa
  4. Marc Heirshberg, CPRE – Director, Parks, Recreation, and Commercial Facilities
  5. Cindy Ornstein – Director, Arts and Culture
  6. Zac Koceja, RLA – Landscape Architect, Engineering Department
  7. Vincent Bruno – Engineering Designer, Engineering Department (At time of competition, he represented the Transportation Department)
  8. Lori Gary, CEcD – Project Manager, Office of Economic Development
  9. David Short – Executive Director, Downtown Mesa Association

The selected finalists were:ÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ
• Woods Bagot, Sydney/Portland (lead) with Surface Design, INC., San FranciscoÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ
• Colwell Shelor, Phoenix (lead) with West 8 urban design & landscape architecture, Rotterdam/New York and Weddle Gilmore, Scottsdale, Arizona
• Otak, San Francisco (lead) with Mayer Reed, Portland, Oregon ÂÂ

This initial phase of the competition was replete with site visits and public forums and left no stone unturned when it came to interaction between the competing firms and the client and public. The City thought this phase of the process worked well, and the Colwell Shelor team was especially active in fielding public input during this phase. Each team then had to translate those public priorities into a feasible design concept. As they say, this is where the rubber hits the road.

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Return of a Favorite Son to the Windy City? – CAC’s Barack Obama Library Competition

 

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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.

 

A lot has happened in Chicago as both government and the University of Chicago have taken steps to prepare for the city’s bid. A recent article has described aggressive real estate purchases by the University starting in 2008, including an entire block along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. These could well be attributed to future expansion plans by the University into an adjoining neighborhood, near Washington Park. But many see these real estate acquisitions as part of a strategy to assure the library’s location near the university, where Obama briefly taught in the Law School before going to Washington. In any case, the City also regards the Washington Park and Jackson Park locations on the South Side as the most logical sites for the library.

With the prospect of a presidential library in Chicago, the Chicago Architecture Club (CAC) could not resist staging an ideas competition with the design of an Obama library as the design challenge. As the 2014 Chicago Architecture Prize, this has become an annual event for the CAC, and this time they picked an obvious subject as a winner. Aside from a designated site on the Chicago River, the program was flexible, and participants were asked to fill in the blanks themselves. Although the prize money was relatively modest, the subject matter had to be tantalizing for potential participants. The jury was local, consisting of architects from several of the city’s major firms:

• Andy Metter (Epstein)

• Brian Lee (SOM)

• Dan Wheeler (Wheeler Kearns Architects)

• Elva Rubio (Rubio Studio)

• Geoffrey Goldberg (G. Goldberg + Associates)

• Stanley Tigerman (Tigerman McCurry Architects)

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The results of the competition revealed that the competition was highly successful, in that it elicited a range of ideas, which were not only at the highest creative level, but quite doable.

The two winning entries were by:

Zhu Wenyi, Fu Junsheng, and Liang Yiang, Beijing, China

Aras Burak Sen, Los Angeles/UAE (OMA)

Honorable Mentions

Dániel Palotai, Budapest, Hungary

Drew Cowdrey and Trey Kirk, Boston (Harvard GSD) 


Ann Lui and Craig Reschke, Boston (Harvard GSD)


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A Conversation with an Icon: Steven Holl Wins the Mumbai City Museum Competition

 

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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?

 

The space program asked for an 8,000-10,000 sqm.(approximately 120,000 sf.) extension to include a conservation centre, library and archives, and a new museum shop and cafe. The new structure was to be freestanding, and thus, not simply a background building, but an architectural statement in itself. What kind of statement was somewhat evident in the choice of the short-listed architectural firms. Not one of those selected could be called a traditionalist, and some could obviously be connected to a certain style. In any case, the participating architects did not have to be concerned about a jury panel that might be leaning toward a traditionalist solution.

 

The short-listed firms were:

• AL_A with PK Das, Arup, Turner & Townsend, GROSS. MAX and Superflux
• Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos with Malik Architecture, Arup and Empty
• OMA + S&K with Meinhardt India, Houtman + Sander, GMD Consultants and Langdon Seah
• Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects with Christopher Charles Benninger Architects (CCBA), Leslie E. Robertson Associates International (LERA), Buro Happold, WORKSHOP: Ken Smith Landscape Architect and George Sexton Associates
• Steven Holl Architects with Opolis Architects, Guy Nordenson and Associates, AECOM, Dongre Project Management Consultants, Transsolar and L’Observatoire
• Studio Mumbai Architecture + Edifice Consultants with Sterling Engineering Consultancy Services and Eskayem Consultants
• wHY with Ganti + Associates, Sterling Engineering, Sterling and Wilson, Magnusson Klemencic Associates, Buro Happold, Local Projects and Quantsoft India
•Zaha Hadid Architects with Sameep Padora Associates (sP+a), AKT II, Max Fordham, Dan Pearson Studio and AECOM

 

The competition jury may have been short on architects, but was heavily represented by institutional experts from museums. One interesting choice was museum director Martin Roth, whose Victoria and Albert Museum in London had been the subject of a controversial modern extension in the 1990s by Daniel Libeskind. Initially, the Mumbai Museum was named its London V&A counterpart, but later renamed. The competition was administered by Malcolm Reading Consultants of London, a firm which has gained an international reputation for the organization of such events.

 

The jury panel consisted of:

• Sitaram Kunte – Chair of Jury, the Municipal Commissioner of Mumbai and Co-Chairman,Trustee of the Museum
• Tasneem Mehta – Deputy Chair of Jury, the Managing Trustee & Honorary Director of the Museum
• Minal Bajaj, a Director of Bajaj Auto Ltd. and a Donor Trustee of the Museum
• Shyam Benegal, a Trustee of the Museum and a prolific filmmaker
• Homi Bhabha, Director of the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard as well as the Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities in the Department of English
• Vishakha Desai, the Special Advisor for Global Affairs and Professor of Professional Practice in the Faculty of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University
• Rajiv Jalota, the Additional Municipal Commissioner, Projects, M.C.G.M., and Trustee of the Museum
• Sen Kapadia, founder of Sen Kapadia Associates
• Anand Mahindra, Chairman and Managing Director of the Mahindra Group
• Martin Roth, the Director of the V&A Museum in London
• Aroon Tikekar, the former President of the Asiatic Society in Mumbai, a prolific author, journalist and authority on Mumbai

 

The jury selection process lasted for three days, during which jurors examined the entries and interviewed the participating firms. In the end, the jury was unanimous in awarding the commission to Steven Holl Architects, with Amanda Levette’s AL_A firm receiving an honorable mention.

 

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The Earth as an Affordable Housing Alternative: Ghana’s Mud House Design Competition

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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. What was the preferred construction method for the winning entries? It could be cob construction, rammed earth, mud brick, cast earth (poured earth) by formwork, or any other earth construction techniques that can be easily learned by local labor. Roofing design could be of vault, fired mud roof, or corrugated zinc sheets, which is the conventional roofing materials, because zinc roofing withstands the heavy rainfall better. As a prototype, the intended solution should be a durable mud house that promotes open source design for the continuity of building with earth for a more sustainable future. The house was to include a kitchen, living area, bedrooms and a toilet. The maximum cost of the house was to be $6,000, for which each entry was required to present a detailed budget. The Process

After a Preselection Jury of experts examined all of the entries, it was charged with shortlisting 20 for adjudication by a Grand Jury. The members of the latter were:
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• Belinda van Buiten, Utrecht, The Netherlands
• Marcio Albuquerque Buson, University of Brasilia
• Mariana Correia, Escola Superior Gallaecia, Portugal
• Toby Cumberbatch, The Cooper Union, New York
• Ahmad Hamid, Ahmad Hamid Architects, Egypt
• Rowland Keable, UNESCO Chair on Earthen Architecture
• Bruno Marques, Oporto Lusiada University, Portugal
• John Quale, Professor, University of New Mexico, USA
• Roland Rael, University of California, Berkeley
• Humberto Varum, University of Porto, Portugal

According to John Quale, he agreed to participate as a juror because he found the topic to be quite interesting. The selection process by the Grand Jury did not, however, take place face-to-face, but electronically. A web interface during the final stages of the process did occur, resulting in the final ranking of the entries. Prof. Quale found this to be an adequate method to adjudicate the designs, as this was obviously a competition with a limited budget, obviating the cost of impaneling the jury on-site. Judging criteria involved the functionality, aesthetics and technical factors to the degree to the degree that the design responded to the design program. The Winning Designs Of the short-listed projects (20), there were three winners. Jurors awarded prizes for first, second and third place consisting of a commemorative plague and cash prizes to the winning designs as follows: 1st prize—$1,500 or construction of the design in Ghana, plus a short trip to Ghana for the opening ceremony once construction is completed (in case the winner is not located in Ghana and to a maximum of 1 person); 2nd prize—Construction or $1,000 and 3rd prize—construction or $500.

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Northwestern University’s Medical Research Center Competition

by Dan Madryga

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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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Bienen School of Music © Goettsch Partners
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Kellogg School of Business © KPMB

The new Medical Research Center is a huge undertaking for Northwestern. Once complete it will introduce 1.2 million square feet of state-of-the-art lab space, with which the University expects to attract an additional $150 million a year for medical research, as well as create 2,000 new full-time jobs. Needless to say, the project is at the forefront of the university’s projected master plan.

 

Of course the architectural evolution of any urban campus necessitates some selective purging of the existing building stock. For the Medical Research Center’s central location on the Chicago campus, this has unfortunately meant the loss of Bertrand Goldberg’s 1975 Prentice Women’s Hospital. This move created no small amount of controversy amongst preservationists and fans of Goldberg’s distinctive, sculptural concrete cloverleaf form. Goldberg was a Chicago architect—a protégé of Mies van der Rohe—who also designed the instantly recognizable twin corncob towers of Marina City. Originally hailed for its innovative engineering and striking form, the Prentice took an innovative approach to organizing medical wards in clusters, thus lending to its distinct form. General reactions have always been mixed: for some it was an iconic work of Brutalism, for others it was simply an eyesore. Either way the hospital was clearly dated by the 21st century standards of functionality, and Northwestern’s development future did not include the Prentice.

 

Proponents of the Prentice pulled out all the stops to try and save the endangered hospital. Preservationist groups sought to protect it with a Landmark status designation that was ultimately denied. Chicago’s Studio Gang offered up a striking design idea that would save and incorporate the Prentice into the new research center. The efforts even extended to an ideas competition. In 2012, the Chicago Architectural Club organized “Future Prentice” as the timely theme of the annual Chicago Prize Competition. Entrants were challenged to find creative solutions for repurposing the old hospital building, in hopes that thought-provoking design could spark a useful public dialogue about solutions that went beyond full-on preservation or wholesale demolition. In addition to the 71 entries received, the Chicago Architectural Club commissioned designs from ten up-and-coming local architecture firms. Together these 81 ideas were displayed at the Chicago Architecture Foundations “Reconsidering an Icon” exhibit in late 2012 and early 2013.

 

The Future Prentice entries ranged from compelling yet largely grounded adaptive reuse ideas (the first prize entry by Cyril Marsollier and Wallo Villacorta imagines the Prentices distinctive concrete shell as a museum presented amongst the boxy volumes of a new research lab facility), to wildly left-field theoretical concepts (the second prize entry by Noel Turgeon and Natalya Egon, where various architectural additions are vertically stacked upon the Prentice to form a “timeline of trends in architecture”). In the end, the competition might have created an interesting dialogue but not with the people who really needed convincing. Given the longstanding plans to demolish the vacant hospital, Northwestern made it clear that all ideas for saving the Prentice would not be seriously reviewed by the University. Like the attempts to enact landmark status, the Future Prentice ideas competition was too little, too late.

 

Not long after the ideas competition came and went, Northwestern officially released their request for qualifications for the new Medical Research Center, with proposals due in April 2013. The RFQ was sent to 23 architecture firms, six of which were local Chicago firms, and most of which had previous experience in large research and medical projects.

 

Northwesterns program called for a research center that would be implemented in two phases. Phase 1 will consist of a 600,000 square foot, 12-story mid-rise complex to fit the former site of the Prentice, with a groundbreaking slated for early 2015 and completion forecasted for 2018 or 2019. It will also serve as a base for the second phase, capping Phase 1 with a multistory tower featuring even more lab space and offices. It should be noted that there is currently no timetable or funding in place for the Phase 2 tower. Thus it is of particular importance that the design for Phase 1 does not end up looking like a vacant pedestal, should Northwesterns long-term development goals not pan out.

 

The design criteria included: an iconic design that respected the campus context and would be a major asset to Northwestern, the Streeterville neighborhood, and the Greater Chicago community; a building that best met all the functional needs of the Medical School; a building that could be easily implemented in two phases; a design that respected and enhanced the neighborhood connections at ground level (particularly with the labs of the adjacent Lurie Medical Research Center); and a design that provided extensive green space. The University also expected at minimum a LEED silver ranking.

 

Similar to Northwesterns most recent invited competitions, the RFQ procedure was a hybrid between a pure design competition and an interview. Or rather a series of interviews, as the shortlisted teams underwent a series of meetings during the design phase with the client group. The university prefers that the names of this evaluation committee remain anonymous, although Northwestern spokesperson Alan Cubbage has disclosed that the group included members of the University Board of Trustees as well as key administrators of the Feinberg School of Medicine. Two outside architects also sat in as advisors.

 

During these design meetings, the committee offered comments and critiques to each shortlisted team. Northwestern has chosen to keep the specifics of these meetings confidential, but we do know through reliable sources that the each team felt that the evaluation comments were well founded, and that no single competitor was singled out for criticism.

 

By November of 2013, the three shortlisted teams final designs were ready for a final verdict. In a gesture of transparency, Northwestern officially unveiled the resulting shortlist designs in an exhibit at the Lurie Medical Research Center. The university welcomed and recorded comments from faculty, staff, students, and other visitors to this public display. The three projects on display were by Perkins+ Will, Adrian Smith+Gordon Gill, and Goettsch Partners. It is good to see that all three firms have local Chicago offices; it seems fitting to replace a building by the indelibly Chicagoan architect Goldberg with a new generation of successors.

 

A casual observer of the shortlisted designs could be forgiven for finding them all remarkably similar. In fact, no one design stands out as wildly out of the box, an obvious winner. Instead we see three elegant, highly competent, if rather predictable options. Part of this stems from the nature of the building program—the rigid constraints of medical and research facilities often have a way of confining creativity. Theres also the persistent issue of making glazed skyscrapers energy efficient. Each entry uses high-performance building skins, which give them similar façade materiality and depth, not to mention employment of textbook sun shading techniques (cue the obligatory vertical fritted glass fins on the east and west facades). Just as the chunky Brutalism of the Prentice had become emblematic of 1970s modern architecture, the sleek, crystalline forms of the shortlist are very much of our own time. Theres nothing wrong with that, but it would have been interesting to see at least one unconventional curve ball, even if it had no chance of winning the commission. *

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Science and Fiction Museum, Washington, DC

Science Fiction Museum, Washington, DC

By Stanley Collyer

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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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Vienna School of Economics

An Academic Cluster Pointing to the Future

The Vienna School of Economics Campus Plan

By Stanley Collyer

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

At the turn of the 21st Century, the Vienna School of Economics (Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien), the largest of its kind in Europe, was bursting at the seams. Over 23,000 students were scattered throughout different locatons 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 strategy was typically European, as student dormitories were not envisaged as an integral part of the overall campus plan.

To begin with, a local Viennese firm, BUSarchitektur, was engaged to complete a masterplan for the site, and a 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 local firm being the author of the masterplan.

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