Any architect, wondering how winning a competition can lead to a career as one of the profession's most recognized stars, need only look back to the Berlin's Jewish Museum competition. In that open, anonymous competition, Daniel Libeskind's entry, 'Between the Lines,' won out over 164 competitors from around the world. This was followed by a winning design for the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, England—a project which was ultimately realized. His winning design in an invited competition for an addition to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London was much discussed in the world of architecture and beyond. In the aftermath of those successes, he has been successful in the U.S. as well as in Germany, having been commissioned to design the Jewish Museum in San Francisco, a high-rise condominium in Covington, Kentucky, and the Frederic C. Hamilton building, an extension of the Denver Art Museum (DAM). But a competition which received world-wide attention was the Ground Zero planning competition, where the 9/11 Memorial is now located. Although chosen as the preferred design, the ensuing tug-of-war between government entities and developers led to major changes in the site plan. The only realized remnant from the Libeskind plan was a suggestion that a 1776-foot tower be built on the site—in the end designed by SOM.
An anomaly among American architects, Frederic Schwartz entered over 60 competitions during his lifetime as an architect. He did win a few of those, and in some, where he participated and did not win as a finalist or runnerup, he received high marks from the critics. In the Ground Zero competition, one of the most high-profile competitions ever staged in the U.S., his proposal on the Think Team with Rafael Viñoly was chosen as the winner by the committee, only to be overruled by then Governor Pataki. Not only did he leave a lasting mark on the environment by those projects which were realized, he was also a constant advocate for civic improvements, bettering the environment we live in.
When I spoke with him about his participation on the team which won the Nairobi Al Jamea Campus Competition, he said that it gave him great satisfaction, because it was the biggest competition he had ever won (and it was built!). Of course there are several of his projects which are often visited, where the layperson may not know who the architect was: the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in Manhattan and the 9/11 Memorials in New Jersey and Westchester County, New York are the best examples—the latter two being competition winners. Those who wish to study architecture should take a page from this architect, for he was not just about designing buildings, but making all of our lives better. -Ed
You might say that Richard Dattner is the quintessential New York architect. Although having built a number of projects abroad, especially in Switzerland, the Dattner firm has amassed a great number of important projects in New York City and its environs. After receiving his B.Arch from M.I.T., during which he spent time at the AA in London, he soon opened his own office in New York in 1967, during which time he received major commissions from Estée Lauder, both in New York and Canada. He began early on to receive commissions in New York, for schools, community centers, libraries and utilities. Along the way he won an open, national competition for the Courtlandt Town Hall in Courtlandt, New York (unbuilt). More recently, he collaborated with Grimshaw Architects to win an invited competition for a forward-looking affordable housing project, Via Verde, in the Bronx. Lately, several infrastructure projects have included the Bowling Green station canopy and Number 7 Subway Line Extension, and the much acclaimed Spring Street Salt Shed in Manhattan.