Winning entry by Stewart Hollenstein Image©Stewart Hollenstein
When reaching a final decision on the winner of a design competition in Sydney, Australia, clients and jurors alike will invariably hark back to the controversy surrounding the Sydney Opera House competition. Because of the large cost overruns associated with that project, it has cast a long shadow over local projects decided by the design competition process. With this in mind, organizers of the more recent Green Square Library competition went to great lengths to address buildability and budget issues associated with the various designs. Their precautionary measures seemed to validate the selection of Stewart Hollenstein as the winner. As unconventional as that entry might have appeared to some, it not only got the green light from a bevy of cost consultants who were brought on board; the feedback from the community turned out to be very positive.
Return of a Favorite Son to the Windy City?
CAC’s Barack Obama Library Competition
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.
An Academic Cluster Pointing to the Future
The Vienna School of Economics Campus Plan
By Stanley Collyer
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 aÂ 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.
A Challenging Site for Calgary’s New Library
Snøhetta Tops Four Firms in Invited Competition
Winning design by Snøhetta (image courtesy Calgary Public Library)
The site of Calgary’s new public library will occupy part of a city block, directly across from the City Hall. One might assume that a project of this size would have deserved a more spacious, flexible site. However, the location the library here was regarded as an important urban statement, not just for downtown Calgary, but also for the East Village neighborhood. That the intended site was also home to a trolley line was not enough to cause the City to abandon this strategy. According to the client, “The location of the new library, adjacent to City Hall, will strengthen the fabric of community life by weaving East Village, the original heart of Calgary, back into the story of Centre City. From this prime location, the library will not only serve Calgary’s growing population but also the 140,000+ workers and students who travel downtown every day.”
Locating a main library in the center of a metropolitan area, regardless of the density issue, is a logical solution. The location of the new Grande Bibliothèque by Patkau Architects in Montreal’s downtown is a great example of what a major public institution can do for a neighborhood. In that case, a nearby Metro line has made the library easily accessible to most of the city’s inhabitants. It can be assumed that the same will hold true for Calgary.
A Library as Ultimate Building Block
The Helsinki Library Competition
by William Morgan
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.
Slovenian Architects Dominate the International
Ljubljana Library Competition
by Stanley Collyer
Winning entry by Bevk Perović Arhitekti d.o.o.
Locating the new National and University Library NUKI II in the heart of historic downtown Ljubljana on a highly visible corner site was itself a major challenge for architects entering this competition. Of the 120 entries from throughout the world received, 116 were admitted for adjudication. Almost half of the designs submitted were of Slovenian origin, with foreign submissions heavily represented by entries from other European countries. One might have assumed that such a high profile international competition would have attracted even more entries. However, the stipulation that a physical model be part of the package must have given many architects pause. Such a requirement may not have been viewed as a serious obstacle for architects residing in the European Community. But, for those living outside of the EU, mailing costs and concerns about getting such a package through Slovenian customs on time undoubtedly reduced participation.
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