Archive for August, 2011

August 29, 2011

One Island East | Hargreaves Associates

The Hargreaves Associates design for One Island East in  creates an urban plaza that bridges the competing open space and circulation needs of a commercial office tower with 15,000 workers with adjacent high density residential housing of 50,000 residents. Hargreaves Associates created a flexible program that provides a range of open space within the landscape. A plaza with artesian fountain at the base of the new office tower serves the business needs of the commercial tower, and a park-like setting with cascade fountains provides for the residents of the towers. Large terraces create connections between the commercial and residential towers.

Landscape Architect: Hargreaves Associates, Inc.
Location: Hong Kong, China
Photographs: John Gollings Photography, Hargreaves Associates

The design implements a formal language of subtly shifting rhomboids to provide structure to the site and negotiate a significant grade change from one end of the terraces to the far end of the plaza. The irregular form of the rhomboids shape the overall form and the subtleties of the site, adeptly transitioning the grades through the stepped structures. As the grade moves irregularly through the plaza, sloping away on one side and remaining constant on the other, the rhomboid unifies the spatial experience of the site. At each of the rhomboid forms cascade fountains pool water at the top of the plaza and send the flowing water over a series of illuminated granite knife edges into basins at the base of the forms. Step terraces border the cascades and create seating, which complements a wide range of built-in seating across the site. The lower part of the plaza provides the garden like setting with lush tropical vegetation and water elements, creating a passive recreation space for the residents at the plaza.

The design incorporates complex details within the plaza, including curving hardwood benches that are illuminated with internal LED lights, and a cantilevered granite bench that peels off from the groundplane. The design also incorporates a series of fountains that integrate the landform structures and plaza with the movement of water. At the entrance of the new office tower, Hargreaves designed an artesian interactive fountain that can be programmed to create different water and lighting effects. Another fountain takes the form of an egg with large, black granite bars spaced apart. Between the bars, white water spray completes the overall form. This entry area of the new commercial tower can be used for exhibitions of all kinds for the towers. Hargreaves Associates successfully designed a plaza space in Hong Kong that is flexible, allowing the needs of a commercial tower with the more intimate scale of a residential urban landscape.

These discrete landscapes present rarified, cogent ideas at the scale of the garden and small urban plaza. With specific programs and a finer grain of detail, these smaller projects are not laboratories for larger projects, but a distinct part of the firm’s practice. Programs on these sites are less far-reaching than large parks, but are still complex, and typically require several types of spaces within the design. Plazas of display are integrated with more passive, contemplative areas for shaded sitting while vibrant fountains coexist with horticultural gardens. In each of the projects the local conditions inform the overall narrative of the design as well as the materiality of the landscape features and plantings. Custom details of fountains and benches further define the identity of these places, creating strong designs with distinct design language. Smaller projects offer immersive landscape experiences with finely tuned choreographies of movement and perception.

August 28, 2011

Chicony Plaza | Goettsch Partners

The complex is designed to maximize program-specific relationships within the existing urban context. By asymmetrically stacking the hotel tower above the retail podium, the design helps integrate the building’s mass with its surroundings. The orientation of the podium entry to the north creates an ideal relationship with the active urban plaza. The hotel tower, sited to the south, provides all rooms with unobstructed views and abundant natural light. The two primary masses of podium and tower are unified by a series of stepped gardens that are accessible from the hotel’s sky lobby, ballrooms and dining facilities.

The primary material palette of opaque white glass and high-performance vision glazing establishes a dramatic contrast within the urban context. The façade design is organized by a series of architectural “planes and reveals” that provide scale to the project, while the shifting windows and joint patterns create a sense of visual movement across the taut exterior surfaces. Contemporary “retail awnings” are formed by cantilevered glass volumes that activate the base of the building. These cantilevered volumes provide a continuous rhythm of canopies for pedestrians while organizing the podium’s extensive signage and advertising needs.

The department store is one of the largest in central China, and the hotel will feature 450 rooms at full build-out. A scheduled soft opening for the hotel is planned for late 2012.

August 28, 2011

Jobs Quits as Apple CEO


Steve Jobs delivered the keynote address at the 2011 Apple World Wide Developers Conference at the Moscone Center on June 6 in San Francisco

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, the ailing tech visionary who founded Apple Inc., said he was unable to continue as chief executive of the technology giant and handed the reins to Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook.

Apple said Mr. Jobs submitted his resignation to the board of directors on Wednesday and “strongly recommended” that the board name Mr. Cook as his successor. Mr. Jobs, 56 years old, has been elected chairman of the board and Mr. Cook will join the board, effective immediately, the company said.

“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know,” Mr. Jobs said in his resignation letter. “Unfortunately, that day has come.”

Art Levinson, chairman of Genentech and an Apple board member, said in a statement that the board “has complete confidence that Tim is the right person to be our next CEO.” He added that Mr. Jobs will “continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration.”

After a brief halt, Apple’s shares slid 5.13% to $355.70 in after-hours trading, after closing at $376.18, up $2.58, at 4 p.m. on the Nasdaq Stock Market Wednesday.

Mr. Cook, 50, has been widely considered as the leading candidate to succeed Mr. Jobs, who has been on medical leave since January. The 13-year Apple veteran, who joined the company shortly after Mr. Jobs took over for the second time in 1997, has been running the day-to-day operations during this period as he has done during two prior medical leaves of absence by Mr. Jobs in the last seven years.

The announcement likely marks the end of one of the most extraordinary careers in U.S. business history. Mr. Jobs not only co-founded Apple—and the personal computer industry along with it—but decades later played a central role in reshaping the music, movie, animation, and mobile-phone businesses.

“Steve Jobs is the world’s magic man. No compromises,” wrote John Sculley, who led the company from 1983 for a decade, in an email. Mr. Sculley was recruited by Mr. Jobs in 1983 as CEO, but ousted him in 1985 after a power struggle.

Mr. Jobs—widely known for his mercurial, demanding management style—drove his company relentlessly to make products that consumers lusted for, unveiling them in heavily rehearsed events that earned him a reputation as high-tech’s greatest showman.

It earned him a fortune that he said he wasn’t interested in. The company pays Mr. Jobs a salary of $1 a year. He also has Apple shares worth about $2.1 billion, and is the single largest Disney shareholder, with stock worth about $4.4 billion.

Even after his health began to fail, Mr. Jobs insisted on turning up at key product launches—including the introduction of the iPad 2 earlier this year, where he was greeted with a sustained standing ovation.

“I think his brilliance has been well-documented, but what gets forgotten is the bravery with which he’s confronted his illness,” said Howard StringerSony Corp.’s chief executive. “For him to achieve this much success under these circumstances doubles his legacy.”

Perhaps more than any other CEO, Mr. Jobs has developed a cult-like following among both employees and customers who hang on his every word at press conferences and vigorously defend the executive from those who might question his products.

Former Apple employees say he created a unique culture inside the company, and affected how other Silicon Valley companies think about innovation.

“Steve inspired an entire generation of entrepreneurs and creative people to think about things in terms of innovation and design,” said Dave Morin, the CEO of start-up Path Inc. and an Apple employee from 2003 to 2006.

The announcement focuses attention on the health of Mr. Jobs, who was diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2004 and underwent a liver transplant two years ago.

Mr. Jobs hasn’t commented on it since he said in a letter in January that he was taking another leave of absence to “focus on my health.” He appeared thin at Apple’s annual developers’ conference in June.

People familiar with the matter say Mr. Jobs has continued to be active at Apple and closely involved in the company’s product strategy. To the extent his health permits, some Apple watchers think that involvement is likely to continue even after Mr. Cook takes the CEO post.

Some Apple employees Wednesday were in a state of disbelief, people familiar with the situation said. One person noted that Mr. Jobs had been seen less frequently around the company’s campus lately.

The transition to Mr. Cook has been widely expected and many are determined to move forward, starting with the launch of the fifth-generation iPhone, which is expected in October.

Mr. Cook, an Alabama native who previously worked for International Business MachinesCorp. and Compaq Computer Corp., is known for his operational acumen. He was instrumental in wringing out inefficiencies in Apple’s manufacturing and setting up its supply chain in China.

Since then, he has gradually increased his responsibilities, becoming chief operating officer in 2005. He has also ably led the company during Mr. Jobs’s absences in the past.

Unlike Mr. Jobs, Mr. Cook has tended to stay outside of the spotlight apart from quarterly earnings calls with analysts.

Mr. Cook faces a daunting task succeeding Mr. Jobs, who proved his managerial mettle by bringing Apple back from near bankruptcy when he returned to it in 1997. And Mr. Jobs relentlessly pushed through his vision of the tech business, reviving the Macintosh computer business and developing new products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Apple faces a particular challenge in that Mr. Jobs has had an unusually strong influence in setting Apple’s corporate culture and strategy, said Charles O’Reilly, a management expert at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business “Great companies rarely go from strength to strength,” he said.

“I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it,” Mr. Jobs wrote in his letter Wednesday. “And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

“I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you,” he added.

The news of Mr. Jobs’s resignation quickly became the talk of the Internet. Overwhelmed with traffic, the blog Cult of Mac temporary went offline. “This thing is melting down,” said editor Leander Kahney, about an hour after the news broke on Wednesday.

Wall Street reacted with little surprise. “This was a ‘when’ not ‘if’ moment,” said Mike Binger a fund manager for Thrivent Asset Management in Minneapolis, which owns Apple shares. He added that he had no plans to change his holdings, saying that the stock is still “really cheap for the kind of operating fundamentals they’ve been putting up.”

The value of the company, however, has been skyrocketing as the success of products like the iPhone, iPad and ultra-thin Macintosh computers keep setting records. At close to $350 billion, Apple is second only Exxon Mobil in market valuationat the moment, recently eclipsing the oil giant for a brief period.

Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer for Solaris Asset Management in New York, which holds Apple shares said he has confidence in Apple’s executive team even without Mr. Jobs, but is hoping for more details on who will be Apple’s “creative force” now that he is gone.

While Mr. Jobs’s resignation is a blow to Apple, the company has a solid pipeline of products, churning out new versions of its Macs, iPhones, iPads and iPods every year.

A person familiar with the situation has said in the past that the board spends most of its time discussing product development and there is a roadmap in place for the next several years. Its next iPhone is expected in mid-October.

“This definitely marks the end of an era,” said Michael Gartengerg, an analyst for Gartner, but he added that “there’s much more to Apple than Steve Jobs.”

—Ian Sherr and Geoffrey A. Fowler contributed to this article.

Write to Yukari Iwatani Kane at

August 27, 2011

King’s Cross Station | John McAslan + Partners

“It’s incredible to watch the reinvention of the station taking shape into a compelling piece of place-making for London. You can already see how the Western Concourse – Europe’s largest single span station structure and the heart of the development – reconnects this much-loved Victorian terminus to its context. It’s immensely satisfying to see the project move forward at such pace and we look forward to celebrating the project’s completion in 2012 for the London Olympics.”-John McAslan, Chairman 

Architect: John McAslan + Partners
Location: London, 
Photographs: Courtesy of John McAslan + Partners, Hufton Crow, John Sturrock

With multi-phased, major works to Kings Cross station well advanced and the dramatic new Western Concourse in the process of being completed, the significance of the King’s Cross Station redevelopment is becoming increasingly apparent day by day.

As lead architects and masterplanners, John McAslan + Partners’ (JMP’s) transformation of King’s Cross Station for Network Rail is an object lesson in the fusion of three very different styles of architecture: re-use, restoration and new build. The train shed and range buildings have been adapted and re-used, the station’s obscured Grade I listed façade has been very precisely restored, and a new, highly expressive Western Concourse has been designed as a centrepiece and the beating heart of the project. When the works to the station are complete and it opens to the public in March 2012, the transformed station and its memorable new Western Concourse will take on the role of a new, iconic architectural gateway to the city in time for the 2012 London Olympics. This structure re-orientates the station to the west, creating significant operational improvements and revealing the main south façade of Lewis Cubitt’s original 1852 station, a masterpiece that has been hidden behind a canopy since 1972.

Although the Western Concourse is probably the most visually striking change to the station, JMP’s work on the project also involves a series of layered interventions and restorations that started with the completed restoration of the Eastern Range building (finished in 2009) and will also see the Main Train Shed, Suburban Train Shed and Western Range buildings revitalised.

Having begun work on the project in 1998 and establishing the masterplan for the development in 2005, John McAslan + Partners has played a key role in the profound infrastructural, social and commercial changes occurring in the area, connecting the station with the massive King’s Cross Central scheme north of the station as well as connecting to St Pancras, the London Underground, and surrounding context. The architectural ambition of JMP’s scheme recognises the opportunity to drive meaningful urban improvement in this part of the city, whilst also allowing King’s Cross Station to cope with increasing passenger numbers, which are thought to reach 50 million a year by 2012.


The centrepiece of the £500m redevelopment is the new vaulted, semi-circular concourse to the west of the existing station. The concourse rises some 20m and spans the full 150m-length of the existing Grade I Listed Western Range, creating a new entrance to the station through the south end of the structure and at mezzanine level on the northern end of the Western Concourse.

Designed by John McAslan + Partners, and engineered by Arup, the 7,500sqm concourse has become Europe’s largest single-span station structure, comprising of 16 steel tree form columns that radiate from an expressive, tapered central funnel. The graceful circularity of the concourse echoes the form of the neighbouring Great Northern Hotel, with the ground floor of the hotel providing access to the concourse.

The Western Concourse runs delicately alongside the façade of the Western Range, clearly revealing the restored brickwork and masonry features of the original station. From the concourse’s dramatic interior space passengers can reach the platforms either through the ground level gate-lines in the Ticket Hall via the Western Range building, or by using the mezzanine level gate-line, which leads onto the new cross–platform footbridge.

Sitting above the new London Underground northern ticketing hall, and with retail elements at mezzanine level, the concourse will transform passenger facilities, whilst also enhancing links to the London Underground, and bus, taxi and train connections at St Pancras. The concourse is set to become an architectural gateway to the King’s Cross Central mixed-use developments, a key approach to the eastern entrance of St Pancras International. It will also act as an extension to King’s Cross Square, a new plaza that will be formed between the station’s southern façade and Euston Road.


Iconic design is matched at King’s Cross Station by considered architectural interventions. King’s Cross Western Range is the historic station’s biggest component and will provide the greatest range of uses. Complex in plan, and articulated in five buildings, its renewal will deliver greatly improved working conditions for the station staff, train-operating companies and Network Rail management teams. The Northern Wing, destroyed by bombing in World War II, has been rebuilt to its original design. The reinstatement of the Western Range by JMP will deliver key gated connections, including a new gate-line at the southern end, which will become the main point of connection between the Western Concourse and the platforms of the Main Train Shed.


The station’s Main Train Shed is 250m long, 22m high and 65m wide, spanning eight platforms. It is being transformed by John McAslan + Partners’ several major interventions. The bold architecture of the main south façade will be re-exposed and is in the process of being restored, whilst the north and south gables are being re-glazed and platforms are also being extensively refurbished. In addition, the brickwork is being cleaned and any ad hoc accretions and outdated services stripped out.

The two barrel-vaulted roofs are currently being refurbished, with the first section of the work soon to be unveiled, and are being lined with energy-saving photo-voltaic arrays along the linear roof lanterns. JMP has designed a new glass footbridge – which has recently been installed – to extend across the Main Train Shed, replacing the old mid-shed Handyside bridge and giving access to every platform as well as the mezzanine level of the concourse.

JMP’s design integrates the main and suburban train sheds for the first time, creating a completely coherent groundplan for passenger movements into and through the station. Improvements to the Suburban Train Shed located to the north of the Western Concourse and Western Range buildings will enhance the operation of its three platforms (the busiest in the station during peak-hours at King’s Cross).

Network Rail’s ambitious transformation of the station, with John McAslan + Partners as lead architect, creates a remarkable dialogue between Cubitt’s original station and 21st Century architecture, marking a shift in strategic infrastructural design in the UK. This relationship between old and new will raise King’s Cross position to that of a modern transport super hub, whilst revitalising and unveiling one of the great railway monuments of Britain.



August 27, 2011

Shenzhen Stock Exchange | OMA

The NASDAQ equivalent Shenzhen Stock Exchange by OMA, continues to progress forward nearing completion. The latest photographs of the new building, which poses a strong representation of capitalism in , highlight the robust exoskeletal grid and the and complexity of construction.

“For millennia, the solid building stands on a solid base; it is an image that has survived modernity. Typically, the base anchors a structure and connects it emphatically to the ground. The essence of the stock market is speculation: it is based on capital, not gravity. In the case of Shenzhen’s almost virtual stock market, the role of symbolism exceeds that of the program – it is a building that has to represent the stock market, more than physically accommodate it. It is not a trading arena with offices, but an office with virtual organs that suggest and illustrate the process of the market.”


The project is based on pure volumes, a combination of a tower and a podium suspended 36m high. The podium is one of the biggest cantilevers in the world, an operation that liberates the ground to create a big public plaza which is visually connected (representing the new economic openness) to the lower part of the tower and the podium itself, the places were the stock exchange operations take place. Above the podium, there is a series of office space for internal operations of the SSE, totaling 200,000sqm for the entire building.

“The tower’s structure is a robust exoskeletal grid overlayed with a patterned glass skin – the first time such glass has been used for an exterior at this scale. The patterned glass reveals the detail and complexity of construction while creating a mysterious crystalline effect as the tower responds to light: sparkling during bright sunshine, mute on an overcast day, enigmatic at dusk, glimmering during rain and glowing at night.”


August 27, 2011

Atrisco Heritage Academy | Perkins+Will and FBT Architects

Architect: Perkins+WillFBT Architects
Location: , New Mexico
Project Team: Eric Brossy de Dios, Angela Kunz, Ann Knudsen, Charlene Martin, Kevin Mereness, Ashley Stoner, Nathan Wilcox
Executive Architects: Fanning Bard Tatum Architects AIA, Ltd.
Project Year: 2008
Photographs: New York Focus Photography

collaboration between Perkins+Will and , the Atrisco Heritage Academy features a set of autonomous school buildings, unified by a common pedestrian plaza. Located on the gently sloping southwest mesa of Albuquerque, New Mexico, this innovative high school campus strives to safeguard the community’s past, with an eye toward the future in a rapidly changing environment. Accordingly, the campus architecture and interiors boast colors and murals that represent the unique cultural heritage of the community with a modern appeal. This 60 acre campus site serves to ignite development in this growing community.

The planning and design phase was based on a joint process which included representatives from the district’s education leadership and facilities departments, community groups, and most importantly high school students. As a result, the campus consists of career academies organized into three distinct buildings. Each academy has planning and activity space internally and externally to promote hands on work.

The notion of preserving the natural landscape was a primary goal in planning and design. The site, visible from the entire downtown Albuquerque community and outlying areas, will serve as a focal point in the changing landscape. The campus provides many societal function, and defines a true purposeful community center.

The campus serves the needs of 3,100 students, with flexible classrooms to accommodate for future changes in curricular needs. The school responds thoughtfully and is committed to addressing the real needs and opportunities of each high school student and educational team member. Moreover, the open campus and common areas provide dynamic places for people of all backgrounds to congregate and learn.

The career academies at Atrisco Heritage Academy will stress academic success in core subject while providing hands-on career experiences by creating partnerships with local higher education campuses and the surrounding community. These partnerships will help to ensure students are better prepared for college and careers by including programs such as an on-site student-run bank. In 2009, the Atrisco Heritage Academy High School was unanimously selected as the grand prize winner of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) Exhibition of School Architecture.


August 27, 2011

Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation | EDGE Studio, Nbbj


Architect: EDGE StudioNbbj
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Project Team : Gary Carlough AIA, Jeff King AIA, Mick McNutt AIA, Stephen Mrdjenovich
Project Team Nbbj: Doug Parris AIA, A.J. Montero AIA, Kathy Kelly AIA
Project Area: 22,000sqf
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Ed Massery

The  decided to expand and renovate Benedum Hall, the 1960′s home for the Swanson School of Engineering on Pitt’s main campus in Oakland. The original limestone clad modernist tower and disconnected auditorium buildings had become obsolete, as the school’s focus shifted to the 21st century disciplines of nanotechnology, bioengineering, and materials research. As a result, EDGE Studio and Nbbj have designed a more flexible facility that is advantageous to inter-departmental cooperation, and helps attract the best and brightest research faculty and students from around the world.

The project has two segments: a 22,000 square foot addition to house the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, and a full renovation in phases of the existing buildings, including full upgrades to all mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and life safety systems.

The project started with an extensive master planning and programming phase, with the often conflicting needs and desires of over 70 research faculty and administrators. Both the addition and renovations were completed while the building remained fully occupied and functional, making the planning, move management, and construction management a significant challenge.

The addition, housing the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, forms a raised link on the site’s north side between the original tower and auditorium. A poured-in-place concrete structure carefully threads its way through the existing basement and subbasement lab spaces below, expressed by the large sloped piers supporting the building over O’Hara Street.

The metal panel and curtain-wall-clad addition contains computer labs, conference spaces, and administrative spaces, which acts as a laboratory for cross disciplinary research into sustainable building and product design. It also contains a new four story open stair hall, linking the three buildings of the assembly, forming a new entry down to the original building’s basement which has been opened up to house a new Teaching / Learning Center.

The project achieved LEED Gold Certification. However, the most important sustainable characteristic is the work that goes on inside, researching into water use, energy use, building construction systems, and collaborations with sustainable technology industries.

August 20, 2011

Surrey City Centre Library | Bing Thom Architects

The new  City Centre Library, designed by Vancouver-based Bing Thom Architects(BTA), is set to open on September 24, 2011. This new building marks the next phase of a major civic investment in the area that will continue the transformation of downtown Surrey, from sprawling suburb to the Region’s next great downtown, which began with BTA’s Central City project. Creating dynamic environments that look to the future of Surrey is nothing new to BTA. Nearly a decade ago, the firm designed the incredibly vibrant Central City, which sits down the street from the new Surrey Library. The architectural and social innovation evident at Central City—a fusion of office space, a shopping center and a university—is further exemplified in BTA’s library design.

Architect: Bing Thom Architects Inc.
Location: 10350 University Drive, Surrey, , Canada
Project Team: Bing Thom, Michael Heeney, Venelin Kokalov, Ling Meng, Francis Yan, John Camfield, Shinobu Homma, Robert Sandilands, Marcos Hui, Lisa Potopsingh, Harald Merk, Berit Wooge, Dan Du, Michael Motlagh, Nicole Hu
Landscape Architect: Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg
Project Year: 2011
Project Area: 82,000 sqf
Photographs: Courtesy of Bing Thom Architects

Structural Engineer: Fast + Epp
Mechanical Engineer: AME Consulting Group
Electrical Engineer: Applied Engineering Solutions
Civil Engineer: CitiWest Consulting Ltd.
Geotechnical: Trow Consulting Engineers Ltd. (now exp Services
Building Code: LMDG Building Code Consultants
Traffic: Bunt & Associates
Quantity Surveying/Costing: LEC Quantity Surveying Inc.
Building Envelope: Morrison Hershfield
Acoustic: Brown & Strachan
General Contractor: Dominion Fairmile Construction Ltd. (now Stuart
Olson Dominion)
Project Manager: Turnbull Construction Services Ltd.

The Design of a 21st-Century Library
BTA understands that the role of the library is changing and that the book collection is no longer the central focus. With advances in easily available electronic information and inter-library loans, providing the appropriate spaces for evolving library activities is now the priority. These activities range from the traditional research and education roles, to the need for libraries to become a point of connection and even a gathering place in the community. As a result, BTA’s design includes a diverse mixture of large interconnected “high” spaces with generous natural light and “low” more intimate spaces to accommodate the book stacks and individual activities like studying and writing. These spaces are modulated throughout the complex, and are revealed as patrons explore the building. For instance, one of the most dramatic spaces is the “living room,” a casual reading area adjacent to massive windows overlooking a future public plaza to the east, is in a double height space that is not apparent until you reach the third floor. In all cases, the spaces have been deliberately kept informal to make the library feel like an extension of the patron’s home. As Thom says, “The design evolves out of the need to provide a space for reading, studying, and above all, gathering as a community. This building is very flexible and will accommodate all of these purposes, but does so in a way that will intrigue and entice the users through the building.”

The library encourages the gathering of diverse groups of people from the surrounding community. Its design features large windows, a welcoming entrance with clear sight lines that allow visitors to quickly orient themselves in the space, and an upward winding central atrium and two skylights that allow natural light into the building. The form of the building is inspired by the curvature of the adjacent University Drive, with an added dynamism provided by outward-sloping walls. While seemingly complex, by utilizing state of the art computer modeling software, the architects were able to ensure that the concrete formwork was highly efficient and easy to construct. The exterior concrete structure is carefully detailed as the final surface, thereby eliminating the need for expensive building cladding. Designed to LEED standards, the outward sloped walls also provide solar shading.

Using 21st-Century Technology, including Social Media, as a Design Tool
The $36 million library project was funded as part of Canada’s Federal Infrastructure program, with costs shared by the federal, provincial and municipal governments. Because of the time constraints placed on these federally funded projects, the firm went head-first into the use of social media to circumvent the standard (and lengthy) community consultation process. The end result is a dynamic design—one that recognizes and supports the changing role of libraries and that incorporates the needs of the client and the ideas of the community – but that also is coming in on time and on budget.

BTA’s social media ingenuity was born out of the need to compensate for a substantially shortened standard public workshop phase. The project was awarded to BTA in November 2009, the groundbreaking took place just a few months later in February 2010, and the opening is scheduled for September 2011 –in total less than two years from start to finish. Traditional public meetings can take months, so BTA developed a social media strategy using blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr to speed things up. BTA worked with Surrey librarians to create a blog on the library website which, in turn, was linked to a Flickr site where BTA posted photos of libraries and other spaces the firm liked. Members of the community were encouraged to post comments and photos; those who did not have a computer or experience with social media went to their local libraries where librarians helped them voice their opinion.

In this way, BTA was able to communicate with a broad range of stakeholders in a short period of time, ensuring that the design got off on the right track. These open, collaborative systems online were also used by BTA and the Surrey Public Library to extend the reach of public meetings and “Meet the Architect” talks to the young and diverse population of Surrey that might not have otherwise voiced their opinions in typical Town Hall forums.

“Surrey has a young population – often families with two working parents who don’t have time to go to public meetings,” says BTA Principal Michael Heeney. “We realized early that it would take us months and months to gather information from the public in the usual ways. Social media made it easy for us to engage in a dialogue with Surrey’s large and disparate community. It was a very eye opening process for us.”

The resulting, innovative design of the library reflects this collaboration, and incorporates the needs of the surrounding community, as well as the demand for libraries to adapt to the way we live and work today. With a grand, center atrium and the requisite private study areas, the design includes a large community multipurpose room that will accommodate 120 people, a computer classroom, a meditation room, and a teen lounge and gaming area.

The virtual “workshops” resulted in several aspects of the design that “might not have been incorporated otherwise,” explains Heeney. Combining both the old and the new techniques of public engagement, BTA teamed up with students from the local high school to create, share, and discuss possible furniture designs and layouts for the Library. Among these are: a pair of special listening music chairs that allow users to preview library media or enjoy their own iPod music in privacy and comfort; a “dinner” table for group work; an LCD-screen TV with comfortable chairs around it; and bean bags throughout. Actual workshops with younger audiences resulted in several additions to the interior, including “a place to color and write,” “a clock to see if we are late,” and “big couches for mom to wait for me.” In addition, custom millwork has been incorporated to promote parent-child reading, interaction, curiosity, play and discovery. Ongoing photo and information streams about the library are building public interest and excitement long before the doors open.

Planning for Future Growth
Surrey is the second largest and fastest-growing city in British Columbia. In fact, the population is expected to outgrow the originally proposed 65,000-square-foot library in a span of about five years. As a result, BTA encouraged the city to future-proof the five-level building by constructing 83,000 square feet now. The excess space will be leased by neighboring Simon Fraser University to operate their Continuing Education program until the library can grow into it. Similarly, there is a full level being built underground, which can later be integrated into an underground civic parkade, another strategy for future expansion and integration with the community.

A New Downtown Continues to Grow
This new building marks the next phase of a major civic investment in the area that will continue the transformation of downtown Surrey from sprawling suburb to the Region’s next great downtown, a process that began with BTA’s Central City project, completed in 2004. This new civic development will ultimately include a new City Hall, a large urban plaza, underground civic parkade, performing arts centre, and additional commercial space – all of which will be arranged adjacent to one of the most intensively used transit hubs in Metro Vancouver. As Bing Thom states, “Surrey City Centre Library is the beginning of a new civic initiative that’s going to further establish the downtown–continuing what we started with our Central City project–for this growing and important city.”

August 20, 2011

Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?

Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?

In Ho Chi Minh City, Carlos Zapata Studio and EE&K (now owned by Perkins Eastman) are working on a 7.5 million-square-foot development dubbed Ma Lang Center.
Image courtesy Carlos Zapata Studio and EE&K, a Perkins Eastman company
Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?
In Ho Chi Minh City, Carlos Zapata Studio and EE&K (now owned by Perkins Eastman) are working on a 7.5 million-square-foot development dubbed Ma Lang Center.
Image courtesy Carlos Zapata Studio and EE&K, a Perkins Eastman company
Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?
SOM has six projects in Vietnam, including Green Tech City, in Hanoi. The master plan features two villages and a lush park that will act as a sponge for rain runoff.
Image courtesy SOM
Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?
SOM has six projects in Vietnam, including Green Tech City, in Hanoi. The master plan features two villages and a lush park that will act as a sponge for rain runoff.
Image courtesy SOM
Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?
In Long Xuyen, which is on the Mekong Delta, EE&K has conceived a master plan that calls for transforming 470 rural acres into dense urban neighborhoods.
Image courtesy EE&K, a Perkins Eastman company
Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?
In Long Xuyen, EE&K has proposed a multibuilding project for downtown.
Image courtesy EE&K, a Perkins Eastman company
Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?
Perkins Eastman has conceived a 229-acre residential district that will be part of North An Khanh New City, a new mixed-use development in Hanoi designed to accommodate 30,000 inhabitants.
Image courtesy Perkins Eastman
Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?
Perkins Eastman has conceived a 229-acre residential district that will be part of North An Khanh New City, a new mixed-use development in Hanoi designed to accommodate 30,000 inhabitants.
Image courtesy Perkins Eastman
Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?
Carlos Zapata Studio has designed a 450-room waterfront Marriott in Hanoi. The building, which resembles a crooked horseshoe if viewed from above, is now under construction.
Image courtesy Carlos Zapata Studio
Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?
As this photo illustration shows, the 68-floor Bitexco Financial Tower, completed in 2010 in Ho Chi Minh City, features a helipad jutting like a diving board from its glass-walled upper stories. Carlos Zapata Studio designed the building.
Image courtesy Carlos Zapata Studio
Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?
In Danang, SOM has been tapped to design the master plan for FPT City (FPT is a telecommunications company). The 180-hectare mixed-use project features a town center, university campus, business district, and residential zones.
Image courtesy SOM
Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?
In Danang, SOM has been tapped to design the master plan for FPT City (FPT is a telecommunications company). The 180-hectare mixed-use project features a town center, university campus, business district, and residential zones.
Image courtesy SOM
It might have been unthinkable as a place to do business just a few decades ago, when half of the country was at war with the United States. It doesn’t have the resources of China, its booming neighbor to the north. And its communist government might not appeal to citizens from capitalist nations.

But quietly, Vietnam has in recent years become a hot spot for many Western architects, as work in their home countries remains elusive. About two dozen North American and European firms now have projects in the Southeast Asian nation, including Foster + Partners, HOK, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). And some are opening permanent offices there, according to architects working in the country.

Vietnam is “starting to dip its toe into the pool with more Western buildings, because it wants to make a mark on the international scene,” says architect Anthony Montalto, a principal with Chicago-based Carlos Zapata Studio. “There is definitely an opportunity to try something fresh.”

Two of his firm’s buildings — reportedly among the first by U.S. designers to be built in Vietnam — appear strikingly different from the low-slung and boxy structures in the country’s cities. Its 68-floor Bitexco Financial Tower, completed in 2010 in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), features a helipad jutting like a diving board from its glass-walled upper stories. And in Hanoi, the firm’s 450-room waterfront Marriott, which resembles a crooked horseshoe if viewed from above, is now under construction.

Many of the opportunities in Vietnam entail urban planning. Unlike buildings, master plans do not require collaboration with licensed local architects, perhaps making them easier for Westerners to take on, according to sources.

HOK, for one, was recently hired by Sacom, a telecom and real estate company, to conceive a 27-acre development in Ho Chi Minh City (where the firm has a six-employee office, founded in 2009). Geared toward young professionals, the scheme features 1,600 homes and is crisscrossed by canals, says Tyler Meyr, an HOK senior associate. Like many projects in Vietnam, the Sacom development will be built on state-owned farmland, which is viewed as expendable now that the country is transitioning from agriculture to heavy industry, architects say.

The state, and the population at large, do not seem to bear a grudge against America, despite the fact that it conducted a decades-long war there, adds Meyr. “They are in a very optimistic time and thinking about the future rather than the past,” he says.

That upbeat mood can be explained partly by the influx of jobs due to foreign investment. With 87 million people, Vietnam is seen by many as a favorable place to locate factories because the labor force is comparatively cheap—about half that of manufacturing districts in China, according to World Bank figures. Intel, for one, opened a $1 billion semiconductor factory in the country last year. The United States’ normalization of trade within Vietnam in 2000 has also strengthened relations and spurred development, analysts say.

In turn, architects have come knocking, prompted by continued softness in the U.S. building industry. There are about a dozen American firms working in the southern city of Long Xuyen alone, explains architect Ming Wu, a design principal with Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects (EE&K, now owned by Perkins Eastman). “Every day, more and more foreign architects are piling into Vietnam,” he says.

In Long Xuyen, which is on the Mekong Delta, EE&K has proposed a multibuilding project for downtown, in addition to conceiving a master plan that calls for transforming 470 rural acres into dense urban neighborhoods. Both schemes await approval.

EE&K is tapping into other cities, as well. In Ho Chi Minh City, it is working alongside Carlos Zapata on a mega-development dubbed Ma Lang Center. In Hanoi, the same team has created a master plan for a new 200-acre district called Hoang Mai Park City. British firms are showing up in Vietnam, too. Last fall, Foster + Partners broke ground on a bank complex in Hanoi.

One of the busier global firms in Vietnam might be SOM. It has six projects in the country, all master plans. It recently was tapped for Green Tech City, in Hanoi, which features two villages and a lush park that will act as a sponge for rain runoff, says Daniel Ringelstein, SOM director of urban design and planning.

Working in Vietnam does have its drawbacks. Projects don’t always pay competitive fees, and some cite systemic corruption in the awarding of contracts. Also, clients often emphasize cars over trains, meaning the country might repeat mistakes seen in the United States. “We’ve learned in the West that if you build more roads, it won’t solve traffic problems,” Ringelstein says. “It means more cars will come.”

By C. J. Hughes


August 20, 2011

Architects: Zaha Hadid Architects
Location: , England
Client: Olympic Delivery Authority
Main Contractor: Balfour Beatty
Project Team: Alex Bilton, Alex Marcoulides, Barbara Bochnak, Carlos Garijo, Clay Shorthall, Ertu Erbay, George King, Giorgia Cannici, Hannes Schafelner, Hee Seung Lee, Kasia Townend, Nannette Jackowski, Nicolas Gdalewitch, Seth Handley, Thomas Soo, Tom Locke, Torsten Broeder, Tristan Job, Yamac Korfali, Yeena Yoon
Project Area: 15,950 sqm (Legacy), 21,897 sqm (Olympic)
Project Year: 2011
Photographs: Hélène BinetHufton + Crow

Design Concept

The architectural concept of the London Aquatic Centre is inspired by the fluid geometries of water in motion, creating spaces and a surrounding environment that reflect the riverside landscapes of the Olympic Park. An undulating roof sweeps up from the ground as a wave – enclosing the pools of the Centre with a unifying gesture of fluidity, while also describing the volume of the swimming and diving pools.

The Aquatics Centre is designed with an inherent flexibility to accommodate 17,500 spectators for the London 2012 Games in ‘Olympic’ mode while also providing the optimum spectator capacity of 2000 for use in ‘Legacy’ mode after the Games.

Site Context

The Aquatics Centre is within the Olympic Park Masterplan. Positioned on the south eastern edge of the Olympic Park with direct proximity to Stratford, a new pedestrian access to the Olympic Park via the east-west bridge (called the Stratford City Bridge) passes directly over the Centre as a primary gateway to the Park. Several smaller pedestrian bridges will also connect the site to the Olympic Park over the existing canal.

The Aquatic Centre addresses the main public spaces implicit within the Olympic Park and Stratford City planning strategies: the east-west connection of the Stratford City Bridge and the continuation of the Olympic Park along the canal.


The Aquatics Centre is planned on an orthogonal axis that is perpendicular to the Stratford City Bridge. All three pools are aligned on this axis. The training pool is located under the bridge with the competition and diving pools located within the large pool hall enclosed by the roof. The overall strategy is to frame the base of the pool hall as a podium connected to the Stratford City Bridge.This podium element contains of a variety of differentiated and cellular programmes within a single architectural volume which is seen to be completely assimilated with the bridge. The podium emerges from the bridge to cascade around the pool hall to the lower level of the canal.The pool hall is expressed above the podium by a large roof which arches along the same axis as the pools. Its form is generated by the sightlines of the 17,500 spectators in its Olympic mode. Double-curvature geometry has been used to generate a parabolic arch structure that creates the unique characteristics of the roof. The roof undulates to differentiate between the volumes of competition pool and the diving pool. Projecting beyond the pool hall envelope, the roof extends to the external areas and to the main entrance on the bridge that will be the primary access in Legacy mode. Structurally, the roof is grounded at 3 primary positions with the opening between the roof and podium used for the additional spectator seating in Olympic mode, then in-filled with a glass façade in Legacy mode.