Posts tagged with "China":

Chicago’s Willis Tower falls off top ten list of tallest buildings in world

The Willis Tower (formerly known as, and still referred to by locals as, the Sears Tower) has been bumped from the Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat’s (CTBUH) top ten tallest buildings in the world list with the completion of the Gensler-designed Shanghai Tower in Shanghai, China. The significance of the Willis Tower’s fall from the top ten is in the fact that Chicago, as the birthplace of the skyscraper typology, has consistently been included in the list of top ten tallest buildings for at least the last 50 years. At 1,450 feet tall, the Willis Tower held the position of tallest in the world for 24 years from 1974–1998, when it was topped by the 1,483-foot-tall Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Council on Tall Building and Urban Habitat measures buildings “from the level of the lowest, significant, open-air, pedestrian entrance to the architectural top of the building, including spires, but not including antennae, signage, flagpoles or other functional-technical equipment” Perhaps in a twist of irony, the tallest buildings in the world that have pushed Chicago out of the rankings have often been designed in Chicago or by Chicago-based offices. Though designed in its San Francisco office, the Shanghai Tower is the work of Chicago-based Gensler. The current world’s tallest building, Dubai's 2,717-foot-tall Burj Khalifa, was designed by Chicago-based SOM, also the designers of the Willis Tower. SOM is also responsible for the design of One World Trade Center in New York, which bumped the Willis Tower from its position as tallest building in the United States. Chicago-based Adrian Smith of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, former design partner and head of the Burj Khalifa project at SOM, is also responsible for the Jeddah Tower which will take the crown of tallest in the world when it is completed in 2020, rising over Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, at a height of over 3,300 feet. Though Chicago no longer boasts the tallest skyline, the expertise of its architects is in higher demand than ever. According to the CTBUH, Chicago’s Willis Tower, and many other towers in the United States, will hardly break the top 50 tallest buildings in the world within the next 10 years, yet it can counted on that many of the multitudes of Asian towers soon to be crowding the top will be designed in the city where it all began.

What’s happening with that giant golden statue of Mao in China?

This month, a 120-foot-tall statue of former Communist Party leader Mao Zedong in the village of Zhushigang, Henan province, was completed. The steel-and-concrete statue sat, somewhat incongruously, in the middle of a field. Days later, the statue was torn down. What happened? https://twitter.com/ChinaGravy/status/686651446918561796 Local officials claim that the statue was not approved. The statue was commissioned by local business leaders and villagers, at a total estimated cost of three million yuan ($460,000). Mao ruled China from 1945–1976, and remains a divisive figure. Photos circulating on social media in China show the statue being dismantled. Some commentators found the statue's location offensive, as Henan was the epicenter of the Great Famine that began in the late 1950s and by some estimates claimed 36 million lives. Today, the province is one of the poorest in China, and some questioned if the money spent on the statue could have been spent on poverty alleviation or education. https://twitter.com/KSLcom/status/686594932065185793 For those who would like to view an ostentatious homage to the former leader, there are many more larger-than-life statues of Mao throughout China. In Chengdu's Tianfu Square, visitors can stare at a 98.4-foot-tall statue of Mao that was erected in 1967 on the site of an ancient palace. In Changsha, there is a 105-foot-tall Mount Rushmore-esque bust of young Mao on a cliff overlooking the Orange River. Erected in 2007, the statue depicts Mao circa 1925. Alternatively, there's an opportunity to try out new techniques that allow a statue to materialize in an ephemeral form. In 2015, a Chinese inventor duo debuted hologram projections that replicated the Bamiyan Buddha statue destroyed by the Taliban in Afghanistan. https://twitter.com/alibomaye/status/607259092265148416

Penda creates a river-like pavilion for the 10th International Garden Expo in Wuhan, China

Where the River Runs, a 1,500 square-meter (4,921 square-foot) pavilion by the Beijing– and Vienna–based firm Penda Architecture and Design, is currently under construction for the 10th International Garden Expo in Wuhan, China. The expo will span over 200 acres and expects more than 12 million visitors. Walking through the river-like pavilion, visitors see the different landscapes a river forms—ranging from cliffs, caves, and canyons, to expansive grasslands. Although the installation is not significant in terms of sustainability, it strives to educate visitors on the pressing issue. Wuhan lies at the intersection of the Yangtze and Han rivers, and has historically brought goods from around the world to China. Penda therefore centered their design upon Wuhan's historical relationship with the rivers. The Penda team said, “But, the rivers didn’t just bring wealth to the city, it also brought a rich flora and fauna to the people.” The canyons' walls are filled with poems and quotes that pertain to rivers. And visitors are given seeds to plant at the canyons' edge. This memorial-like procession is intended to influence visitors to treat rivers with respect. The pavilion will contain underground tanks to collect rainwater for plants during the festival. Where the River Runs won 2nd place in the international competition and is currently under construction on plot 1590 of the 10th International Garden Expo in Wuhan, China. For further information visit Penda's project page here.

KSP Jurgen Engel Architekten to Design New Shenzhen Art Museum

German studio KSP Jurgen Engel Architekten was selected last month in an international competition to design the new Shenzhen Art Museum and Library complex. The winning scheme was chosen over submissions by world-renowned firms including OMA, Mecanoo and Steven Holl. The winning design consists of an art museum, a library and archive, and a public square known as the “Culture Plaza,” all encased within cubic glass structures. An approximately twenty foot high stone pedestal forms the basis for the museum, library, and plaza. In addition to the podium and the plaza, the museum roof and the uniform facade material of matte glass help accentuate the coherent character of the structure’s designed components. The new museum is marked by different-size spaces; it includes about 160,000 square feet of exhibit space extending over three levels. The library features a four-story reading room with nearly 1,000 desks and a large skylight, and the archive is located in the podium and on the basement levels. Set back terraces have a cascading effect and act as a wayfinding element, while at the same time affording an impressive view of the “Culture Plaza” and the city. According to the architects, the central idea of the design is to create a public place that promotes interaction between people and culture. The art museum represents just one of many high-profile architectural projects that are currently taking place in the city of Shenzhen. Skyscrapers designed by Morphosis Architects, NBBJ and RMJM are in the works. Rem Koolhaas’ OMA has also won a competition to design their second tower in the city, following the Shenzhen Stock Exchange building.

Enough Buildings: the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture

“City-ness” is at the heart of the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture, which kicked off last Friday in Shenzhen, China. Titled Re-Living the City and curated by Aaron Betsky, Alfredo Brillembourg, Hubert Klumpner, and Doreen Heng Liu the event brought together architects, designers, urbanists, and makers on the site of the former Dacheng Flour Factory not far from Shekou Port.

Opening night culminated with giant animated graphics projected on the factory’s abandoned concrete silos, a dramatic light show that reflected the organizers and curators ambitious attempt to rethink how China, and especially still-booming Shenzhen, approaches continued urbanization. The industrial port area is primed for redevelopment and the biennial activities and adaptive reuse of the main five-story concrete building and adjacent structures seem poised to remake this part of the city into a hub a cultural activity based on tactical and informal urbanisms.

The curators divided the biennale into subthemes: Collage City 3D, PRD 2.0, Radical Urbanism, Social City, and Maker Maker, which are distributed across the site. The third floor of the former flour factory is dedicated to thematic and national pavilions. (It’s here that I co-curated with Tim Durfee an exhibition on behalf of Art Center’s Media Design Practices Program entitled Now, There: Scenes from the Post-Geographic City.)

While each thematic category manifests through distinctly different projects—Collage City for example featured Hood Design’s Symbiotic Village installation of hanging fish bowls, while Radical Urbanism presented a mural-like illustration from Interboro Partners’ Arsenal of Exclusion and Inclusion: The Battle for the Beach—there’s a shared emphasis on bottom-up urbanism, hands-on techniques, and citizen agency.

Or, as Betsky is quoted as saying in the catalog: “enough buildings, enough objects, enough images.”

His statement is certainly a provocation given Shenzhen’s skyline—at night the architectural products of the last 20 years are ablaze with LED light shows, screens, and advertisements. The curators ground their explorations in the here and now, emphasizing how the present offers future lessons for a “re-lived” urbanism. But given the recent Chinese edict “No more weird buildings,” one has to wonder if “enough” is enough to carry the next decades. Will the absence of formal agenda lead to a vacuum filled with banal buildings or instead offer space for these types of urbanisms to authentically emerge on their own?

On View> Cao Fei’s “Shadow Plays” explores the rapid pace of Chinese development

Cao Fei: Shadow Plays The Mistake Room 1811 E. 20th St., Los Angeles Through November 21, 2015 Cao Fei’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, Shadow Plays, features a chaotic conglomerate of contemporary urban forms in Chinese life. Focusing on the obscurities, Fei’s work offers a surreal sideways glance at China’s rapid development. Utopian and dystopian universes exist in her video and “Second Life” artworks, representing the hypothetical extremities to which China is susceptible as a product of growth and potential collapse. Pop-culture references punctuate Shadow Plays, intertwining developmental, cultural, psychological, and economic shifts in her home country. Fei adds an overriding sense of playfulness to the situation. The almost childlike arrangement and oversaturation of components makes the dystopian undertones of her work all the more disturbing, amplifying the fact that, like children, we are all perhaps powerless to the external forces being exhibited on and in China today.

Clifford Pearson, deputy editor at Architectural Record, will direct USC’s American Academy in China

Clifford Pearson, deputy editor at Architectural Record, is leaving his post to join the University of Southern California's (USC) School of Architecture as Director of the American Academy in China (AAC). The AAC was founded in 2007 by USC School of Architecture Dean Qingyun Ma. The program uses the humanities, art, and architecture to understand contemporary China. In addition to directing the AAC, Pearson will teach a class on architectural journalism at the academy. He will assume his new role in January 2016, though he will continue at Architectural Record as a contributing editor. Why China now? Pearson explains that, because China's building boom is slowing down, this is an ideal time to "catch our breath and examine what's happened over the past 25 years." Currently, the AAC is a six-week summer program open to U.S. and Chinese students. Its programs are geographically far-reaching and immersive: this past summer, students from 12 universities traveled to Shenzhen, Beijing, Xi’an, and Lushan to study how the mass migration from the countryside to the city has influenced the rural-urban dynamics across China. Pearson would like to enhance AAC's profile among university students in these two countries by expanding the academy into a year-round series of seminars, lectures, and events in Los Angeles and cities throughout China. Pearson envisions the AAC as China's answer to the American Academy in Rome. Similar to the AAR, there will be fellows living on site and working on China-focused research projects. Pearson was tapped for the role because of his expertise in the culture and development of China. From 2005 to 2013, he was editor-in-charge of Architectural Record China, and he is currently co-director of the Asia Design Forum, a think tank that fosters debate around the built environment. He intends to use his "journalist's eye" to create programming that contextualizes and critically examines China today.

Winner of 2015 Curry Stone Design Prize Announced

Hong Kong–based nonprofit research and design firm Rural Urban Framework (RUF) won the Curry Stone Design Prize for its work rebuilding villages across China. Joshua Bolchover and John Lin, both professors at the University of Hong Kong, founded RUF in 2006. Their goal is to harness design to “stabilize, reinvigorate, and rebuild” China’s rural populations. Currently, China is experiencing a mass exodus of population from villages as people move to cities in search of better opportunities. In 1980, approximately 80 percent of all Chinese lived in villages. Today, more than half of the population lives in cities. According to research by Tianjin University, China loses approximately 300 villages every single day. Working closely with the locals, RUF has completed a variety of projects to meet each community’s specific needs, including bridges, schools, hospitals, houses, and even a garbage collection center. To date, RUF has worked in 18 villages to combat the effects urban sprawl and is designing and planning entire villages and prototype housing. “The work of RUF is addressing one of the most urgent current geopolitical issues, how to deal with the imbalances created by large mass migrations,” said Emiliano Gandolfi, the Prize Director. “Their work is exemplifying how architecture should establish a dialogue with the community and the environment in order to built structures that respond to their changing needs.” The Curry Stone Design Prize, founded in 2008 to celebrate socially-engaged designers and inspire others to use design, selects winners by consulting social impact experts and humanitarian advocates. RUF will receive a cash prize to aid its mission and projects in China. RUF will participate in a panel at the Chicago Architectural Biennial, led by Prize Director Emiliano Gandolfi on Friday October 2, from 2:30-4pm CST, taking place at the Claudia Cassidy Theater inside the Cultural Center. A short film produced by the Curry Stone Foundation about RUF’s work will also be shown during the panel.

Who needs Paris? Chinese copycat culture strikes again with I.M. Pei’s Louvre

China is no stranger to unashamedly ripping off landmark Western structures—the country has replicas of the Eiffel Tower and several renditions of the White House. However, this time they have copied one of their own architects, I. M. Pei, with a 1:1 duplicate of the Louvre in a Shijiazhuang theme park. The latest addition to the country's collection of replica Parisian architecture lies among overgrown shrubs and unkempt grass in an obscure amusement park in Hebei province. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it sits adjacent to an ancient Egyptian Sphynx. China has already created "Little Paris" in Yuhang, Hangzhou, Zhejiang (East China), which features more mock-Parisian style architecture replete with Tower de Eiffel (though not the real one, obviously). Is this latest piece of "mockitecture" a tipping point or a simply one of more to come?

Despite no first prize winner, competition to rethink urban growth in China produces some big ideas

To address the urgent and emerging issue of urban development in China, Creativersal and the International Union of Architects (UIA) staged the Mount Lu Estate of World Architecture (MOLEWA) competition. The program took a long-range and somewhat utopian view of the matter. "Rather than an unchecked flow to the big cities, the strategy endeavors to evolve existing medium-sized population centers naturally into prosperous, sustainable, clean and rationally distributed 'new cities'," states the competition website. "To be viable, these cities must not only be functionally complete and efficient, but also beautiful and pleasant." Responding to an existing master plan of the site, a riverside city in the foothills of Mount Lu called Ruichang with a population of 430,000, professional and student teams were invited to propose solutions for residential and commercial/cultural sectors. Diverse—but apparently not definitive, as the jury declined to award a first prize—the submissions came from 40 countries. Instead, they recognized two second-place winners and three third-place winners in each of the two categories. Work on the 20-hectare project is expected to commence in 2016. The third-place winners in the residential division:       A second-place winner of the residential category: An Honorable Mention entrant in the residential category: The third-place winners of the commercial/cultural category:     A second-place winner in the commercial/cultural category:

First this casino in Macau built the world’s first figure-eight Ferris wheel, then it built a time-lapse LEGO model of the spectacle

Calling itself Asia's entertainment capital, the nearing completion casino, Studio City Macau, is a $3.2 billion resort that has enough glittering amenities to claim such a title. But as we know from Las Vegas, no casino sprawling out over the size of a mini city is complete without some sort of amusement park flourish, and Studio City doesn't disappoint, boasting the world's first figure-eight Ferris wheel. Hovering 427 feet above the ground, the so-called Golden Reel is the crown jewel of the $3.2 billion complex. With a gold-tinted structural system that carries round cars on the novel journey, switching them between rings along the way, the spectacle is sure to be as pleasing from the ground as for visitors spinning up above. The Golden Reel was inspired by an idea right out of a disaster action flick. Melco Crown Entertainment CEO Lawrence Ho, who is developing the project, envisioned the dramatic storyline: "not one, but two flaming asteroids crashed through the building facade in tandem to create an almost perfect figure-8 form," according to the company's press release. "The Golden Reel is a ‘world’s first’ technological innovation that reinvents the gondola-ride and Ferris wheel experience for our visitors," Lawrence Ho said in a statement. "As a new iconic landmark in Macau, the Golden Reel is a totally unique entertainment offering to Asia, and indeed the world, and we continue to deliver on our commitment to expanding the non-gaming leisure and entertainment offerings available in Macau, as a continuing strategy in supporting its evolution into a highly-diversified and world-leading leisure and tourism destination." macau-figure8-01 Besides holding title as the first figure-eight wheel, the Golden Reel will also be the highest Ferris wheel in Asia. Seventeen pods, each large enough to accommodate ten people, will traverse the amusement ride. Visitors will spend 15 minutes making the round beginning on the building's 23rd floor. The attraction is situated between what developers are calling "Art Deco meets Gotham City" hotel towers designed by the Goddard Group, designers and master planners of theme parks around the world. But if such a spectacular Ferris wheel isn't enough to satisfy your interest in the bizarre, Studio City has also built a replica of the towers and Golden Reel out of LEGOs, filmed it in time lapse, and put it online for the world to see. Take a look below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5jTgw3TfjI

Chinese tech exec Liu Dejian builds $100 million home modeled after Star Trek’s USS Enterprise

Architecture purists, turn back now. Star Trek aficionado and wealthy tech exec Liu Dejian purchased the rights from CBS to build a home and office space that’s a deadringer for the sci-fi film franchise’s famous starship, the USS Enterprise. Located in the coastal city of Changle in China’s Fujian province, the 853-foot long building features the circular contours and tubular features of the iconic spaceship, which appeared three times in Star Trek films released in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The building’s cleverest design quirk is that when viewed from the ground, it looks like a somewhat typical office mounted on columns with a parking space beneath. However, satellite and Google Maps imagery reveals it to be a starship with a football field and four tennis courts on a roughly circular plot of land surrounded by water. As the only licensed Star Trek building in the world, it has become the headquarters of online game developer NetDragon Websoft, founded in 1999 by Dejian, also a board member of Chinese search engine giant Baidu. Inside, the 43-year-old tech exec has installed a lifesize replica of a T-Rex named Stan after the paleontologist who discovered parts of its skeleton in South Dakota in 1987. True to Star Trek legend, the work spaces are divided by automatic sliding gates, and 30-foot metal slides on the third floor whisk employees down to the ground floor in a flash. Regarding the company’s first attempts to contact CBS to purchase building rights, NetDragon Websoft told the Wall Street Journal: “That was their first time dealing with an issue like this and at first they thought it was a joke. They realized somebody in China actually did want to work out a building modeled on the USS Enterprise only after we sent the legal documents.” Construction commenced in October 2010 and completed late last year, costing a reported 600 million yuan ($97 million). The building has inspired heated debates online among Trekkies as to which ship it is modeled after, but general consensus maintains that it’s the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E.