Senses and Sensitivity: The Opening of Taichung’s Central Park by Catherine Mosbach/Philippe Rahm

 

 

 

 

The abandonment and closing of airports, including decommissioning those that were used for military purposes, has presented design communities with several opportunities to convert them entirely to civilian purposes. Notable among those which have been the result of competitions are Orange County Great Park, Irvine, California (Ken Smith Landscape Architects), The Estonian National Museum (Dan Dorell, Lina Ghotmeh  and Tsuyoshi Tane), and Toronto’s less successful Downsview Park competition, whereby the winning design by OMA, with trees as the primary feature, has been basically ignored. Instead, the area has become the site of numerous commercial and residential projects.

 

The Taichung Gateway Park Competition (now Taichung Central Park), won by Catherine Mosbach and Philippe Rahm with Ricky Liu and Associates, has been completed after a two-stage international competition and an intensive development phase. Also the site of a previous city airport, this was an ambitious project, covering a 168-acre parcel of land. The original competition participants were faced with a large, comprehensive program, not only incorporating a number of significant features, but doing so sustainably. When we reported on the results of that competition in 2012, author Dan Madryga summed up the challenge presented to the designers as follows:

 

Serving as the central backbone of the new community, Gateway Park will help set the standard for Gateway City’s subsequent development. The open, two-stage competition challenged architects, planners, and landscape architects to develop a meandering 168-acre parcel of land into a functionally complex recreational park running north to south through the new city, linking its various functional zones. The competition organizers sought a park that combined “tranquility, ecology, landscaping, disaster mitigation, carbon reduction and recreation.” Various recreational and cultural facilities had to be skillfully integrated into the park’s fabric, including a Cultural Center, Movie City, and the aforementioned Taiwan Tower. With a preliminary construction budget set at approximately US$85,000,000, the park is certainly a large-scale, high stakes endeavor with great potential.*

 

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Middle leisure land Image with pavilion: ©Mosbach/Rahm

 

In the meantime the development phase saw the Mosbach/Rahm team settle on an interesting idea, placing structures along the breath of the site, representing “senses” according to the Rudolph Steiner method. For some, this may hark back to Bernard Tschumi’s “follies”, which were an essential element of his winning design for Parc de la Villette in Paris. In this case, it can be seen in its value not only for its educational/discovery features, but rather as a visual site-integration strategy with thematic connecting links.

The park is to be dedicated on December 6th in Taichung. With its multiple attractions, it promises to be a most important addition to the life and the well-being of the residents of the city and beyond.

 

*For the original competition Mosbach/Rahm entry: https://competitions.org/2012/01/taichung-gateway-park/

 

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Science Island Design Competition Finalists

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The Eisenhower Memorial: Sending Mixed Messages?

The Eisenhower Memorial: Sending Mixed Messages? by Stanley Collyer

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Preface

Since this article was written, several events have occurred which have changed our perception of the final design process. Frank Gehry went back to the drawing board and has modified his memorial design, eliminating some of the columns which we objected to at the edge of the site (January 2011, see above). One may only hope that the tapastry design element, which the Arts Commission still has some reservations about, can be resolved successfully.

More recently, a group called the National Civic Art Society in Washington has issued a call for another Eisenhower Memorial competition for the same site. Apparently stuck on the idea that everything in Washington near the Mall should be in the Beaux Arts traditional style, they take offense that the Gehry design does not meet their standards of what a memorial to Ike should look like. Although probably well-meaning, this group evidently would like to turn back the clock on progress in this field. They would like to erase from memory all the advancements in new materials and ideas which have surfaced and been implemented over the past century. Is it then surprising that not one architect on their board is a national name (Most of their members are laypersons). Although their competition will undoubtedly draw some entries, it should hardly be taken seriously, much less receive any attention from the press. What they are doing is adding nothing to a positive dialogue about architecture in this country—only attempting to set it back by decades.  -Ed

Frank Gehry's preferred idea for the Eisenhower Memorial was one of three proposals which the firm presented in March 2010 to the Eisenhower Memorial Commission after prevailing in the earlier selection process. Although not touted as a pure competition by the Memorial Commission, the original selection process in 2009 was typical of the General Services Administration’s Excellence in Architecture program, often used to adjudicate the design process for government projects such as federal courthouses.

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