For Architects, Landscape Architects, and Planners
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Mesa's Answer to Urban Sprawl
The Major Redesign of a City Center
by Stanley Collyer
Designing a city plaza as a “people place” is no small challenge. One only has to recall the various redesigns that Pershing Square in Los Angeles went through, or Seattle’s Pioneer Square, to recognize how intent and reality were often in conflict. In both of these temperate climate municipalities, the image of an otherwise welcoming destination was tarnished by an unforeseen presence of the homeless.
The City of Mesa, in sunny Arizona, believes that a new plaza, well connected to the surrounding urban environment, can present “a signature public space” that will not only serve as a destination for public activities, but also as a catalyst for downtown revitalization. It would appear that a number of favorable conditions already exist: city administration buildings are located directly within the two block site area; Arizona’s largest art center borders the area to the south; and the city library is in the block immediately facing the site to the north. With this kind of built-in pedestrian activity, the site should be well positioned to attract a higher-than-average number of locals and visitors.
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.
A Conversation with an Icon
Steven Holl Wins the Mumbai City Museum Competition
The decision to stage an international competition for a “North Wing extension” to the Mumbai City Museum had to be an interesting challenge for the organizers. The present building, also known as the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum (photos, left and opposite), was dedicated in 1872 and had a distinct English colonial flavor, with emphasis on the Victorian. It had recently undergone a major restoration, and the interior is certainly one of the major examples of architecture of the pre-modern age in India. With that in mind, the initial question for any structural addition—aside from space requirements—had to be: what should it look like, and how would it relate to the existing museum?
Bernard Tschumi On Competitions
Interview with Stanley Collyer
COMPETITIONS: You grew up in an architectural environment; so was this always going to be your future, or did you speculate about doing anything else?
BERNARD TSCHUMI: My father was an architect, and I believe a very good one. But at first my inclination was more in the literary and philosophical realms. But then, living in cities, experiencing cities had a great fascination for me. And that’s how I became an architect.
COMPETITIONS: I was in Parc de la Villette in Paris shortly after it was completed. Winning that competition must have been a game changer for you.
BT: It was a real game changer, because, until then, I had never entered a real competition. I had pursued rather theoretical research for almost ten years, and I decided it was time to test some of the conceptual ideas in a real project. Clients don’t just appear out of the blue; so like many young architects I entered an anonymous competition with a lot of entries. By an incredible set of circumstances, out of 476 entries, I won it. In a way, it was really an attempt to translate and transpose certain ideas and concepts that had been explored prior to the competition and through the competition.
The Earth as an Affordable Housing Alternative
Ghana’s Mud House Design Competition
For years, the earth has long been the basic construction material for houses in rural Ghana. Although 98% of the houses in the Abetenim area of Ashanti province—typical of warm, humid climate conditions—are made of earth, stereotypes about this building type persist because of eroding which takes place from poor construction and water damage. This has resulted in a stigma associated with mud architecture and the local perception that mud architecture is only for the poor. Instead of earth, metal and cement block have become the material of choice—at a considerable expense.
In light of this problem, the Nka Foundation, a non-profit organization dealing with art and design in Africa, staged the Mud House Design Competition—to encourage designers, architects and builders to use their creativity to come up with innovative designs for modest, affordable homes that can be built locally. The focus of the design was to aim at creating a single family and semi-urban house type that would be a place to live, a place to rest, store modest belongings, and feel safe.
- Northwestern University's Medical Research Center Competition
- Vienna School of Economics
- Science and Fiction Museum, Washington, DC
- A Challenging Site for Calgary’s New Library: Snøhetta Tops Four Firms in Invited Competition
- Adaptive Reuse of a Hospital Site: The Royal Adelaide Hospital Competition