The World Architecture Festival is in its third year of existence, and, despite the worldwide recession, seems to have more attendees, trade show participants, and strong projects in its awards program. In what is surely a sign of the times, however, there seem to be many more strong projects in the “future” category than completed buildings. As it has been for the past three years, AN was the event’s American media sponsor, and this year I juried projects in the category of “Future Health and Education Buildings.” The “future” presented several problems for the jury, as the various projects were all in different states of completion. In fact, one of the buildings the jury selected, the Kuwait Children’s Hospital by Madrid-based AGi Architects, had no window openings on its facade—at least not yet—or a credible entry into the complex. Nonetheless, we decided to give it an award for its adventurous design, in hopes that the client would actually see the project through to completion. What it will look like at the end is anyone’s guess, but at this point it stood out in the Health category. We gave our Future Education award to another Kuwait project, Sabah Al-Salem University in Kuwait, designed by Perkins+Will’s office in New York City. For this project, the future seems much nearer, as it was more developed and seems to have financing in place. It was recommended for its balancing of large-scale planning issues with small-scale detailing—the building’s facade was particularly well thought out, as it creatively dealt with the harsh climate of Kuwait. When this project moved through to the final round, however, where it was considered for the award as the outstanding future project of the year, it was attacked by jurists Will Alsop and Charles Jencks for its monolithic facade, which uses a repetitive flange system to shade 80 percent of the surface much of the day and thus reduce energy consumption in this hot climate. I also think Alsop actually wanted a brighter color on the facade (it’s white) and asked the Perkins+Will presenter Anthony Fieldman: “Do you really like the building?” To his credit, Fieldman stood his ground with a firm Yankee “Yes!” In a final comment that would only come from a Brit, Alsop asked Fieldman, “What’s it like to work in a country that does not allow the consumption of alcohol?” Thank god for the British! The festival’s Best Building winner was no surprise: Zaha’s Maxxi Museum in Rome. Zaha may stand triumphant in Barcelona, but Americans should be proud of the Los Angeles (and Palestine) based firm Suisman Urban Design, which won Best Future Project for the ARC Plan for occupied Palestine. Winning the student category was the Campus Catalyst Project in Port Au Prince, Haiti, designed by Harvard University students Robin Bankert, Michael Murphy, Caroline Shannon, and Joseph Wilfong. According to the jury’s notes, this project offered a powerful statement, built around the premise of education as a driver for reinventing the landscape after the 2010 earthquake. The project focused on practical applications like agronomy and carpentry, while developing education centers on unoccupied or damaged land adjacent to the current tent villages, where they are most needed. The team won a $16,000 prize courtesy of AECOM, which sponsored the student competition. Among the other category winners recognized by the juries: Check the WAF winners site for a full list of winning category projects, and check back here for more on the overall winners.
Posts tagged with "AECOM":
Another day, another corporate architecture takeover. But this time it’s not the usual suspect, AECOM, which has recently swallowed Davis Langdon, Ellerbe Becket, DMJM, and EDAW. It’s Canada's largest architecture firm, Stantec (whose stock ticker on the NYSE, for the record, is STN), which already has a total of 10,000 employees in North America and designs behemoth projects ranging from airports to wastewater treatment plants. The firm today announced it was eating up storied SF firm Anshen + Allen. Anshen, famous for building the original Eichler Homes in California, the amazing Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona, and a big chunk of the University of California campuses, still has a firm stronghold in healthcare, education, and research. Recent projects were at Cornell University, UCSF Medical Center, UC Santa Cruz, Stanford, and Kaiser Permanente. Some have decried the move as part of architecture’s inexorable march toward just a few “too big to fail” firms. But one of AN’s Deep Throat sees it as a smart move for Anshen in this economy: “Mid-size firms, even larger mid-size firms, are going to have a rough go of it during the next few years,” our source said. “You need a larger platform to keep getting healthcare (and presumably other institutional) work."
We learn via email today that California firm WWCOT has been taken over by midwest mega-firm DLR Group. WWCOT's offices in LA, Modesto, Palm Springs, Riverside, and Shanghai will be known as DLR Group WWCOT. The merger, says 500-person DLR, will give the firm a needed presence in California and Asia, and improve its education, healthcare, and senior community design. Like most businesses, architecture's biggest firms are interested in the takeover, which gives them more geographic reach, more talent, and more clients. This move follows behemoth firm AECOM's purchase last October of Ellerbe Becket, and in 2007 RMJM's purchase of Hillier, and Arcadis' purchase of RTKL. According to a 2009 survey by business management consultant ZweigWhite, Seventy-one percent of architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting firms plan to conduct a merger or acquisition in the next five years. Sounds high, but maybe there will be one giant firm running all of architecture the next time we check?
On Saturday the LAPD cut the ribbon on its new police headquarters in downtown LA. The $437 million dollar facility, designed by AECOM, will house officers and staff within a 10-floor building that includes a rooftop helipad, glass-walled passageways, a large plaza, and exterior concrete walls with energy efficient high-performance glazing. Visitors will be able to eat at the 200-seat restaurant, LA Reflections, before viewing the outdoor memorial created to honor officers killed in the line of duty. AECOM partnered with a massive team that also included landscape architect Melendrez, Gensler, John Friedman Alice Kimm, and many many more. Read our review of the building in the next California issue, where we also give props to interesting new police buildings in LA by A.C. Martin, Perkins + Will and others.