Competitions as Stepping Stones for Young Architects
Example: Weiss Manfredi


Cornell Tech’s Roosevelt Island Campus Photo: ©Iwan Baan

 

In the early 1990s, Weiss Manfredi emerged as one of the most interesting young architecture firms in the U.S. How did this happen? Winning two important competitions in 1990/91—the Women’s Military Memorial in Washington, DC, and the Olympia Fields Mitchell Park competition in a Chicago suburb—served to propel this relatively unknown pair into the national limelight. From then on, the firm began to receive invitations to participate in invited competitions, winning several high-profile competitions, which included the highly acclaimed Seattle Art Museum Olympia Sculpture Park and the more recent Kent State Center for Architecture and Environmental Design competitions.

 

What marked their rise was not simply their expertise in developing landscape plans to fit a specific site, or detail in retrofitting or realizing significant buildings, but recognizing that architecture does not cease to exist at the front door. As a result of their success in those early competitions, the firm has received a number of commissions, such as the University of Pennsylvania’s Nanotechnology Institute and Cornell Tech’s recently completed “Bridge,” at their Roosevelt Island Campus. Not known for their high-rises, the firm seemed to strike just the right chord on this project. As a major piece of the Roosevelt Island campus ensemble, this building can hold its own with any of its neighbors—a tribute to the firm’s versatility.

 

Would all of this have been possible without those winning competition efforts? It’s clear that those experiences smoothed the path to career advancement…as both a learning experience and raising the firm’s profile.

 

  
Exterior and interior views  Photos: Iwan Baan

Interview with Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi:
https://competitions.org/2016/07/interview-weiss-manfredi-architects/

 

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Interview: Linda Pollak (2013 Taichung City Cultural Center Competition Juror)

Juror Linda Pollak on the Taichung City Cultural Center Competition

Interview with Stanley Collyer

pollak2

Linda Pollak is a founding member and principal of Marpillero Pollak Architects in New York City. A member of the faculty at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design from 1992-2004, Linda has been engaged in architectural practice since 1981, and landscape architectural practice since 1979, receiving her architectural license in 1988. Her commitment to research on architecture and urban landscape spans more than 20 years, informing acclaimed results in practice and theory.


Linda recently served on the jury for the Taichung City Cultural Center competition, and talked with Stanley Collyer about the experience.

COMPETITIONS: What about the jury process for this competition? You were there twice.

Linda Pollak: It was organized beautifully. We received the brief and all the other materials ahead. It had to be very rigorous, as it was for a public work.

It appeared that there were always some public officials in the room; but we didn’t know who they were. In other words, it was a really sunshine situation in terms of transparency for the government.

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