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/

 

Calendar

 

 

Exhibitions and Conferences

 

Recent Archive Updates

 

Interview: Andrzej Bulanda (Summer 2008)

dscf0537
Wlodzimierz Mucha and Andrzej Bulanda
Bulanda Mucha Architects, Warsaw

COMPETITIONS: When did you decide you wanted to become an architect, and who were some of the main influences for you?

Andrzej Bulanda: I have been thinking about architecture for a long time, although I didn't start in architecture. There was some family history and I was always interested in this type of work. Also, in those days in Poland, it was the only profession in which you could frame your own (non-political) agenda, and not have to be part of a large office. You could do small competitions, small projects.

I spent one year at GSD as a Visiting Scholar and wrote a book which was an interview with professor Jerzy Sołtan concerning his personal history with Le Corbusier, everything related to architecture, and the roots of his own life. From GSD Harvard, I got my position at Penn State University, where i taught for a year. Then I came back to Europe, to France, where I was working with Groupe 6 in Grenoble for two years on projects related to health and culture. In 1991, I started the firm here in Poland with my partner — we had met at the university in Warsaw.

bre - 04
BRE Bank, Bydgoszcz, Poland (Competition 1995, completion 1999)

COMPETITIONS: When you were working in France, those were the days when a lot of open competitions were being staged.

 

Read more...