Sverdlovsk Philharmonic Concert Hall Competition

 


Image courtesy Ministry of Construction and Infrastructure ©Zaha Hadid Architects

 

Zaha Hadid Architects prevailed over the entries of 47 other firms to win the Sverdlovsk Concert Hall Competition in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Staging this competition in the Urals, in a remote location in European Russia from the centers of power, is testimony that culture can thrive in regions outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Considered the capital of the Urals, the city of Yekaterinburg is Russia’s third largest economy. Its population has increased by over 10% in the past decade to 1.5 million and continues to grow as the primary hub and meeting point connecting east and west, Europe and Asia; attracting the many cultures, talents and industries from across Eurasia.

 

Organized by the Ministry of Construction and Infrastructure with the support of a charitable foundation for the support of the Ural Philharmonic Orchestra, the competition adjudication process narrowed the number of finalist firms down to three:

 

  • Zaha Hadid Architects, London (Winner)
  • Alvisi Kirimoto Partners Srl, Rome, Italy (2nd Place)
  • Robert Gutowski Architects, Budapest, Hungary (3rd Place)

 

The dimensions of the site and its location in a space between buildings prioritized the entrance experience to the concert hall. The Zaha Hadid and Robert Gotowski teams approached this in a somewhat similar fashion. Whereas the Zaha Hadid design suggested an almost open stage with setback as the arrival feature, Gotowski went even farther, imagining a curtain-like, concave structure as a prelude to the concert inside. Alvisi Kirimoto was more conventional, using an extension of the roof toward the street as shelter theme. The Hadid designers also extended the roof over the entire program at one level, suggesting an archeological theme.

 

Solving this program, which included two music performance venues, posed a real challenge to the architects. All three proposals could be understood as valid performance venues, and assuming the Zaha Hadid design is realized as proposed, we might see a few pilgrimages to Yekaterinburg in the coming years.

 

First Place

Zaha Hadid Architects (London)
Local Architect: SPEECH (Moscow)
Landscape design: ARTEZA (Moscow)

 

 

   
Images courtesy Ministry of Construction and Infrastructure ©Zaha Hadid Architects

 

 

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Interview: James Mary O’Connor FAIA (Winter 2017)

After receiving his Diploma in Architecture from the Dublin Institute of Technology and BS in Architecture from Trinity College in Dublin, James received his Masters in Architecture from the University of California, Los Angeles while a Fulbright Scholar in the U.S. Shortly after his time as a student in Charles Moore’s Master Class at UCLA, he joined the Moore firm in Los Angeles, now Moore Ruble Yudell. Beginning in the late 1980s, he was involved in the firm’s many projects in Germany, many of which dealt with masterplanning and the construction of large housing, primarily in Berlin. Subsequently, he was involved in the Potatisåkern Master Plan & Housing, as well as the Bo01 Housing Exhibition, both in Malmö, Sweden.
James was MRY’s point person in its subsequent involvement with the firm’s many projects in the People’s Republic of China, beginning with their winning competition proposal for the Century Center project in Beijing. Although unbuilt, it didn’t escape the notice of the Chinese, who invited the firm to participate in a competition for the Tianjin Xin-He large neighborhood masterplan—which they won. This was followed by the 2004 Chun Sen Bi An Housing Masterplan competition in the city of Chongqing, located in central China—completed in 2010. This high profile project resulted in a number of affordable and high-end housing projects throughout China. The firm’s most remarkable sustainability project was the COFCO Agricultural Eco-Valley Master Plan project outside Beijing, envisioned to become the first net zero-carbon project of its kind in the world.
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Interview: Allison Williams (Summer 2009)

awcc_final_side3
August Wilson Center for African American Culture, Pittsburgh, PA (Competition 2003, competion 2009)
COMPETITIONS: When did you first decide you wanted to become an architect? Was it a sudden revelation?
ALLISON WILLIAMS: My undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley is in the practice of art. It would be wrong to say that I wanted to be an architect from the beginning; but frustration with the practice of art not really feeling that it was going to be a career-based thing for me. At the time, in the late 60s and early 70s, I was surrounded by some really promising artists. For me there was also the of what the art was going to be used for — how do you know exactly whether something is working or not, whether it’s interesting or not, whether it has a sort of bigger platform of use or service? I grew up in a home which was very visually based. My father was not an architect by the strict terms of the AIA; but he was an engineer-urban designer type—he built our house in Cleveland. So architecture was part of my life from the beginning. My mother, who was a journalist, was very artistic. So it came together, but rather as a graduate degree at Berkeley.
COMPETITIONS: I guess Yung-Ho Chang (previous Chair at MIT) wasn’t at Berkeley when you were there. But he was so good at rendering, that everyone sort of waited to see what he was doing before they got started.

 

AW: When I started there, I was the only one in my class of thirty who knew how to draw or knew how to express things. We had all kinds of backgrounds in the masters program at Berkeley, psychologists, structural engineers—you name it in terms of their background. They were very unfamiliar with the tools of architectural or life drawing.

 

COMPETITIONS: Was there a particular person or persons along the way who helped shape your ideas on architecture?

 

AW: Beyond my father, there were some inspirational people. People who really taught me the most are those who think of architecture as series of problems you need to solve. Gerry McCue, who later became the dean at Harvard was one. If I was going to identify the most inspirational architect, it would be Le Corbusier. I don’t know if it’s just a generational thing, or just total admiration. It probably has more to do with more time in Paris and France than any place other than places I have lived. I have probably visited almost every work by Corbusier.
During my time at Skidmore, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Marc Goldstein, who was an incredible mentor. I benefitted in my experience and success at the office because of working with him. When he became ill, he looked to me to just take it and run.

 

COMPETITIONS: What was the first competition you ever entered? And the most memorable?

 

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