A Sign of the Times?
Port of Kinmen Passenger Service Center International Competition
by Stanley Collyer
Times change, and plans for a new Passenger Service Center on Kinmen Island illustrate how architecture can become a symbolic indicator of the recent normalization process between The People’s Republic of China and Taiwan. During an ongoing hostile conflict decades ago, Kinmen, then often referred to as Quemoy, was the occasional target of shelling from the nearby mainland, causing locals to seek shelter on a moment’s notice. A recent atmosphere of détente between the two parties, fuelled by economic cooperation, has resulted in a drastic change in priorities for the small island: it is exchanging its old fortress-like role for that of a tourist attraction and primary sea link to the mainland.Read more...
Looking into the Hi-Tech Future
New Campus of the Vietnamese-German University, Ho Chi Minh City
by Stanley Collyer
Comprehensive plans for new towns have long been on the agenda of Asian countries. In this period of globalization, those nations are now expanding university campuses to accommodate the need for a well-trained cadre in high technology. Now in the midst of a rapid catch-up mode with its neighbors to the north, Vietnam has recognized the need for more highly specialized technicians. Since this requires new educational facilities, the country has turned to the World Bank and enlisted international expertise in its effort to accelerate this process. With aid coming from the German government, a new campus for a technology university was envisioned outside of Ho Chi Minh City.
Re-Thinking the University of Manitoba’s Campus
Visionary (re)Generation International Competition
by Carmela Cucuzzella and Camille Crossman
Note: This article originally appeared in the Canadian Competitions Catalogue at the Université de Montréal
At a time when universities are summoned to assume their responsibilities in the shaping of major urban areas, and in an era of ferocious educational competitions in which benchmarking and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) released by Shanghai Jiao Tong University rule the educational market, some universities have decided to take advantage of the potential power of competitions to seek excellence in design. This was the case when the University of Manitoba launched their competition for a new campus in December 2012.
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From OMA and BIG to Small
The Miami Beach Convention Center Competition
Aerial view of design by ACE / OMA
A once ambitious plan to renovate and expand the Miami Beach Convention Center has recently fallen victim to regime change and a new, less extensive rebuilding plan. The original plan, which resulted in a price tag escalating to $1.1 billion, was discarded after the election of the new mayor, Philip Levine, who, since taking office this year, has asked for a new start to the project and issued an RfQ in that regard. As a result of this change in the City’s strategy, the winner of the original competition, led by South Beach ACE with Rem Koolhaas and OMA has threatened legal action against the City of Miami Beach for breach of contract.
EDGE/ucation Pavilion Design Competition
The site for the Pavilion Design Competition on New York’s East River was formerly a major center for rowing and other water sports along the Harlem River throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, and was home to several dozen boat clubs until the 1950s. Throughout the decades following, the area became an illegal garbage dump before the New York Restoration Project (NYRP) intervened and partnered with New York City Parks to conduct a massive cleanup project in 1996. The group removed tons of debris, silt and toxic waste, and replanted the shoreline with native plant species. The park is currently maintained by NYRP, and encompasses five beautifully reclaimed acres, with a cherry tree grove, a saltwater marsh, a children’s learning garden, the Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse, a scenic bike path, a freshwater pond, and more.
In July, NYRP launched a competition to ensure storm and social resilience along the Harlem River shoreline at Sherman Creek Park, located in Inwood/Washington Heights, traditionally an under-resourced region of New York City. In response to Mayor Bloomberg’s proposition to increase resilience of infrastructure citywide, NYRP invited eight emerging NYC-based architecture firms to participate. In September, NYRP shortlisted Bade Stageberg Cox (BSC) along with three other finalists, Desai/Chia Architecture, Urban Data + Design, and WORKac. These submissions were reviewed by a jury that included NYRP Founder and Board Member, Bette Midler, and world-renowned architects, sustainability experts, and civic decision-makers, including NYRP board members Todd DeGarmo, CEO and Principal of Studios Architecture, and Ed Hollander, President of Edmund Hollander Landscape Architects, as well as John Rhea, Board Chairman of NYC Housing Authority, and Christopher Sharples, Principal of SHoP Architects. Susanna Sirefman of Dovetail Design Strategists served as the competition advisor overseeing the development and management of the competition.
“We’re thrilled to see such innovative and creative proposals responding to our call for storm-resistant architecture on the banks of the Harlem River,” said Amy Freitag, NYRP Executive Director. “BSC’s thoughtful approach to providing access to the water's edge directly responds to the city's call for resilient design, making Sherman Creek Park a spectacular destination for local residents, students, rowers and anyone who seeks to discover the Northern Manhattan waterfront park.”
The Pavilion’s site, currently known as the “Former Boat Club Site,” is a flood plain zone frequently inundated by storms and tides. Entitled Edge Portals, the winning design by Bade Stageberg Cox incorporates flooding as an integral part of the life cycle of the architecture. It consists of two buildings, an open classroom and a boat storage building, situated along the site’s newly constructed shoreline. The layout places the buildings on twin peninsulas at the water’s edge and orients the structures towards the water, creating a direct connection with the river.
“We chose to site the buildings on the peninsulas where the land interlocks with the river, directly engaging the waterfront and highlighting the relationship between the city and the river,” said Tim Bade, Principal at Bade Stageberg Cox. “Together, the classroom and boathouse form a threshold between land and water.”
To address flooding, the classroom and boat storage building are constructed with a metal skin made of expanded weathered steel panels, with slotted openings that allow water to flow in and out freely. In addition, a cistern will store and reuse stormwater for garden irrigation, and a rock garden at the site’s lowest elevation will collect storm water and run-off.
In addition to its storm resilience, the Pavilion also allows NYRP’s education team to embrace the natural environment and storm events as learning opportunities. The open classroom will have sustainable features that complement and interact with the natural environment, such as a rainwater skylight to provide natural light within the space and act as a rainfall gauge, and water tables at which children can conduct water testing and analyze microbial samples with microscopes.
The design incorporates a ‘science cove,’ a waterside classroom for educational programming and active engagement with the river. This cove is created by passageways leading from the peninsulas to a floating dock. It will host a variety of activities, including seining, wildlife observation, oyster gardening, and boating instruction protected from boat wakes and river turbulence. In addition, the site will feature:
§ benches that also function as 100-year flood markers;
§ ‘tidal mirrors’ that will capture water and mark high and low tides; and a solar garden with photovoltaic panels that will power path and building lighting. Together, the buildings and landscape offer rich opportunities for boating, recreation, and the exploration of nature and science. With goals to secure funding for the project, estimated at approximately one million dollars, the new site will harbor a vibrant waterfront culture that has been absent from this region for decades.
Entitled Edge Portals, Bade Stageberg Cox’s design takes advantage of the site’s interlocking profile with the river by placing two new buildings on twin peninsulas at the water’s edge. Oriented towards the water, the buildings are like portals, which frame views of the landscape and create a direct connection with the river. Unlike much of New York City’s new waterfront development, Edge Portals blurs the line between shore and river, allowing water to enter the buildings and the landscape and encouraging visitors to explore beyond the water’s edge through boating, walking out onto the floating dock, and engaging with the site’s diverse ecology.
The "What If" Factor
The Louisville Children’s Museum Competition
By sponsoring a local ideas competition in Louisville, the Central Kentucky Chapter of the AIA was clear that this was more than about adding to the portfolios of the winning designers. They saw it as an opportunity to increase awareness of what might be and raise the bar on architectural design in the community. The other sponsor, the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) regarded it as a way to lure additional local designers and engineers to the AIA CSI annual Trade Show at the city’s convention center.
A Blueprint for Change in the Rockaways
Devising Strategies to Guard Against Another Sandy
by Sharon McHugh
The devastation wreaked by Super Storm Sandy has awakened communities along the North Atlantic coast to their vulnerability to extreme storm surges and has spawned several competitions intended to address this issue. Foremost among these is the Far Roc Competition (For a Resilient Rockaway), which sought ideas for developing an 80+ acre City-owned site known as Arverne East into a mixed use, mixed income, sustainable and storm resilient community. Besides maintaining a balance between innovation and affordability, participants also had to take into consideration the new physical and regulatory challenges of waterfront development. Although the focus of the competition was on this particular site, it was just as much about developing strategies that could be applied to low-lying and vulnerable regions elsewhere.
SANAA's Cultural Tour de Force
The Taichung City Cultural Center Competition
by Dan Madryga
A Library as Ultimate Building Block
The Helsinki Library Competition
by William Morgan
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.Read more...