The controversial lower west side project, Pier55, just got the green light from the New York State Supreme Court this past Friday, April 8, to continue moving ahead. Last spring, the City Club of New York (a nonprofit organization) filed a lawsuit against Pier55 Inc. and HRPT to stop the project. Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller are major funders of the planned $130 million, 2.7 acre island of public space off of the lower west side of Manhattan. They established the nonprofit organization Pier55 Inc., and are working in a public-private partnership with the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT). U.K. based firm Heatherwick Studio (known stateside for their collaborating with Bjarke Ingels Group on Google’s planned Mountain View headquarters) and landscape architecture firm, Signe Nielsen, are designing the project. The City Club believes the project will hurt wildlife and is against public interest. “The project would require driving about 550 piles in an area of the Hudson protected as an estuarine sanctuary,” the City Club wrote in an AN op-ed published this January. “Diller and von Furstenberg would receive a 30-year lease to operate the island as a performing arts venue and naming rights to the island in perpetuity.” In response, the Pier55 team wrote a letter to the editor, published this early February on the AN blog: “The project has also been through a rigorous and transparent environmental review process and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has already determined that an Environmental Impact Statement is not required,” said the Pier55 development team. “It must also be noted that Pier55’s 2.7-acre size is within the scope of what is allowed based on a 2013 law amending the state’s Hudson River Park Act. This amendment, crafted based on input from the local community board and other stakeholders, allowed HRPT to rebuild the former pier outside its original footprint.” Construction is expected to start this spring, with an opening in 2019.
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[Editor’s Note: This letter is in response to an op-ed from the City Club of New York. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. ] There is a pressing need for new public open space and programming along the Lower Manhattan waterfront. When Hudson River Park’s Pier 54 closed in 2011, New York City lost vital parkland that had served both local community and citywide residents. The problem was that there was never enough public funding to support a new pier at that site. Pier55 will revitalize that waterfront space with nearly three acres of new public parkland, a unique design and new arts, educational and community programming. A public-private partnership between the Diller - von Furstenberg family and the Hudson River Park Trust will ensure Pier55 will remain sustainable for generations to come. As former City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe has written, this use of a public-private partnership follows a long tradition that has supported other public parks across New York City, such as the High Line and Brooklyn Bridge Park, as well as public arts spaces like Central Park’s Naumberg Bandshell and the Queens Theatre in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. That is all part of why Pier55 has received an overwhelmingly positive response from local families and park advocates who are excited about the future of the Hudson River Park. The project has also been through a rigorous and transparent environmental review process and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has already determined that an Environmental Impact Statement is not required. Unfortunately, the City Club of New York disagrees. Instead of engaging the community — as the Hudson River Park Trust and Pier55, Inc. have done over the past year — the City Club continues to make false claims about Pier55 and its public process. The fact is that Pier55 underwent a comprehensive Environmental Assessment which found that the park would have no significantly adverse impact on fish and other aquatic wildlife. The Environmental Assessment remains publicly posted on the HRPT website to this day, and it was distributed publicly for a two-month comment period that went well beyond what is required by state law. Additionally, it has already been stated that pile driving for Pier55 will not occur between November and April, when wildlife like winter flounder and striped bass are found in higher densities in the area. The City Club has provided no actual evidence refuting the Environmental Assessment or proving why any further environmental review would be required. Pier55 will provide a diverse array of programming, but it should be noted that boating activities are already found at numerous other piers along Hudson River Park. Contrary to opposition claims, as determined by the United States Coastguard, Pier55 will not obstruct navigation in the Hudson River because that particular area has never been used for boating activities. Pier55’s commitment to public programming is also based on a commitment to public access. The park will remain open to the public all year round and the vast majority of events at Pier55 will be offered for free or at low cost. It must also be noted that Pier55’s 2.7-acre size is within the scope of what is allowed based on a 2013 law amending the state’s Hudson River Park Act. This amendment, crafted based on input from the local community board and other stakeholders, allowed HRPT to rebuild the former pier outside its original footprint. Aside from all that, it is odd to see the City Club argue that Pier55 — one pier among many at Hudson River Park — will block views of the river. The pier will provide park visitors with new and unique views of the Hudson River, and it will replace a fenced-off site that currently provides no public benefit. Overall, Pier55 is a public benefit that is being funded by necessity through a public-private partnership. Pier55, Inc. is not a corporation — it is a nonprofit organization. It will not reap profits from any events held at Pier55, and all programming revenue will go back into funding the park and serving the public. As New Yorkers for Parks and other supporters have noted, this public-private model will ensure that the new pier remains sustainable for generations, even in the absence of public funding. The City Club’s arguments against Pier55 may be numerous, but they are without merit and do not reflect the overwhelming community support for the project, which has only grown as more local residents hear what the new park will provide for their neighborhood. We look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders on making Pier55 a success for the community and the city. We hope the City Club will reconsider its inaccurate claims and join us in that effort. —Pier55 Development Team
Good news Lincoln Center fans! Heatherwick Studio and Diamond Schmitt Architects will lead the renovation and reimagination of David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center’s largest concert hall. The team was announced as the selection today by Katherine Farley, chairman of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and Oscar S. Schafer, chairman of the New York Philharmonic. The pairing of the two high-profile firms is an intriguing collaboration. Heatherwick Studio is best known for the Garden Bridge in London and a master plan for the new Google campus in Silicon Valley (with BIG). The UK Pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010 and a redesigned London bus are also some of Heatherwick’s high-profile projects. Diamond Schmitt Architects is best known for their performing arts venues including the New Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, and the Maison Symphonique de Montréal. The design will attempt to create a place where the architecture is one with the music, as well as a host of gathering and programming spaces. A new “Legends at Lincoln Center: the Performing Arts Hall of Fame" will also be created on the site. "The inspiring combination of Heatherwick and Diamond Schmitt will bring contemporary design excellence, respect for the historic architecture of the hall, and extensive experience creating acoustically superb performance halls," said Farley in a statement. “We believe this pairing of Heatherwick and Diamond Schmitt offers the most compelling potential for the New York Philharmonic’s new home that will reflect the excellence and artistry of this Orchestra, as well as further enhance and support the Philharmonic’s evolution as a 21st-century institution,” said Schafer in a statement. The project is expected to be complete in 2019 at a preliminary estimated cost of $500 million. The team was selected from a list of over 100 firms, during a strict process.
Hospitals can often be bleak settings, awash in florescent lighting and beige hues that do little to bolster the mission of healing and recovery. However, Maggie's Centre— an organization that provides free support and services for people living with cancer and their families—has made great strides in elevating the healthcare environment (and experience) through design, making it an uplifting, welcoming, and aesthetically-pleasing place to heal. This has been accomplished by tapping some of the most well-known talent in the field—Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, Snohetta, Norman Foster, Rem Koolhaas, and Richard Rogers—to design centers at NHS cancer hospitals, which boasts 18 facilities and several more in the process of being built. Now Heatherwick Studio is on board with a garden-inspired center on the campus of St. James's Institute of Oncology, one of the largest cancer hospitals in Europe. Planned to be one of the largest centers, according to Heatherwick Studio, the new building is made of a series of different-sized containers, resembling "a collection of garden pots," enclosed by flat sheets of glass that protect against the elements. Intended for both visitors and passersby to enjoy, the building's exterior will overflow with greenery as trees and plants sprout from the roofs and flora grows in and around the structures. Wallpaper reported that the center will be built adjacent to the hospital's oncology unit and sit among several gardens designed by Marie-Louise Agius of the landscape design firm Balston Agius. "Surrounded by the huge and complex medical machine for healing we wanted to capture the positive and therapeutic experience of plants and see if it could be possible to make a whole building out of a garden," explained Heatherwick Studio on their website. The center will open its doors in 2017.
Architects and designers from 47 countries are competing to win prizes in the 2015 World Architecture Festival Awards following the announcement of the shortlist today. Nearly 400 designs in 31 categories have been chosen ranging from small family homes to huge commercial developments, landscape projects and interiors. Major world architects taking part include Foster Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects, Rafael Vinoly Architects and the designer of the controversial Garden Bridge in London, Heatherwick Studio. As usual there are also small practices unknown outside their own countries, who will be presenting their shortlisted work, along with big names, at the annual World Architecture Festival (WAF) in Singapore this November. This is the eight year of the WAF awards, which cover completed buildings, future projects, landscape designs, and interior architecture and design. WAF programme director Paul Finch commented: ‘ We are delighted that our entry numbers were up this year, and the quality of submissions is as high as ever. ‘What is fascinating about these awards is the opportunity they provide to compare how different architects and designers tackle the same sort of problems in completely different parts of the world.’ For more information www.worldarchitecturefestival.com
The final touches have been put on London’s now-infamous Garden Bridge, designed by Heatherwick Studio with Arup and landscape designer Dan Pearson. The most recent renderings, released early this week, show exactly what the spaces on the bridge will look like by offering an up-close look at the garden-like landscaping. The Garden Bridge Trust (GBT) describes it as an “oasis of escapism.” Like New York’s High Line, the bridge is a collaboration between the architects and landscape designers, but Pearson said that “Thomas [Heatherwick] always described the garden as being the reason the bridge is there and we have a very generous space with which to make a garden.” This includes 27,000 square feet of planted green space, with ferns, grasses, 270 trees, 2,000 shrubs, hedging plants and climbers, more than 22,000 perennials, and 64,000 bulbs, according to GBT estimates. The new details of the plan include a conceptual framework laid out by Pearson and his team that includes five separate zones that make reference to the green spaces of London. They are: a marsh, a “cliff top landscape,” two woodlands, and a traditional, planted garden area. The design is the last step in unveiling the bridge to the public, which includes several skeptical parties. The approval process has been called into question, including the quick approval of former MP at the Department for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles. Others have questioned the design itself as unnecessary given the extreme need for bridges across the river in other, lower-income East London neighborhoods. Heatherwick has also been tapped to design a similar park that will hover above the Hudson River in New York. It remains to be seen if the Manhattan version will meet the same opposition as the London bridge. Part of the difference is that the Garden Bridge is being sold as a piece of public infrastructure that will connect two important parts of town, but is being heavily regulated including no bicycles, no protests, and no night walking, as Olly Wainwright has mentioned in the Guardian. Sam Jacob pointed out that the bridge raises many questions about public space in a city rapidly consumed as a territory of global capital and speculation. He probably would have preferred the city just build his version, which included the lyrics to Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind 98” etched into the stone balustrades. It's hard to fault Heatherwick for the political turmoil, however. He has delivered a beautiful piece of parkland, and we would have to believe that he is doing his best to mitigate the undercurrents of neoliberalism and inequality that are highlighted by the project. In a recent interview with AN, Heatherwick said, "I’m very influenced by the Jane Jacobs book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. It almost made me fall in love with public-ness. With the bit we share together, and the subtle chemistry existing in the social interactions in public space." Sometimes the architect is hard to blame. [via gizmag]
Google trumped (for once) by LinkedIn, leaving Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick swoopy plans in limbo
Mountain View, California's city council has decided that LinkedIn and not Google will be able to develop the majority of its North Bayshore area, leaving Google's ambitious plans by Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick in jeopardy. According to Silicon Valley Business Journal, LinkedIn will be able to develop 1.4 million square feet of the 2.2 million square feet of the area's available commercial space, leaving Google with enough room for only one piece of its four-part plan. “I’m not sure how I make any of this economically viable with one building,” David Radcliffe, vice president of real estate and workplace services for Google, told the council. Google's four structures were to be draped in glass canopies and connected by walking trails. plazas, community gardens and oak groves. Now they may face the same fate as Google's former plans for a new Leed Platinum campus in Mountain View's Charleston East area by Ingenhoven Architects and SHoP Architects, which were proposed in 2012 and 2008, respectively. According to public documents, LinkedIn's plans (left), designed by Studios Architecture (the firm that, ironically, designed the building that currently serves as Google's main headquarters) call for six office buildings, a new theater, health club, and a retail street. LinkedIn's rectilinear site plan is much more conventional than Google's looping, twisting, and intertwining complex would have been. Most of the office buildings would surround a public space called "The Green." According to the Business Journal, the decision does not approve LinkedIn’s project, rather "it merely gives the company the green light to turn in formal plans." So this saga isn't over yet.
A custom concrete curtain wall complements a Singapore university building's unique form.The new Learning Hub at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore looks nothing like a typical campus building. School administrators conceived of the facility as the embodiment of a pedagogical sea change, and commissioned London-based Heatherwick Studio to design an iconic structure emphasizing small-group learning and cross-disciplinary interaction. Eschewing perpendicular classrooms and isolated corridors, the architects developed a unique plan in which rounded meeting rooms are arrayed around a central atrium. The Learning Hub's textured concrete facade, punctuated by zig-zags of glazing and pockets of greenery, translates the interior program to the building's exterior, and announces the arrival at NTU of a new way of teaching and learning. The Learning Hub's plan, said project leader Ole Smith, "is basically the whole story of the design." The first challenge was to accommodate a radical departure in the university's mode of instruction. In lieu of traditional master classes, students meet in groups of six with a professor as facilitator. NTU asked Heatherwick Studio to eliminate corners where possible; once the architects observed that the classes would meet at round tables, the next step was to consider rounding the classrooms themselves. Knowing that the windows in the classrooms would need to be small in order to reduce thermal gain, they looked for another way for students to connect with one another and decided upon a central courtyard. "That was part of the brief as well, to enable the students to mix," said Smith. "It's the only building on the campus of 33,000 where they all come together. Art students might have class next to math or engineering students; the hope is that they'll meet up and inspire each other, or develop a business plan together." Singapore's stringent environmental standards necessitated the use of concrete on the building's facade as well as its structure. "That scared us a little," recalled Smith. "In northern Europe we see a lot of Brutalist buildings, and that's not the direction we wanted to go in. We started looking at how we could use the material in a different way." With local concrete contractor LWC, the architects played with pigment, using different colors to signal structure and ornament. In terms of form, they sought a balance between uniqueness and standardization. Heatherwick Studio's 3D modeling specialists came up with a set of 10 curvatures that, distributed across a total of 1,050 facade panels, could be recombined to deliver a unique shape to each classroom—thus streamlining fabrication without introducing obvious repetition. To further camouflage the facade's standardized elements, and to avoid swerving into Brutalist territory, the architects introduced a texture of horizontal bands, spaced, per local code requirements, to be pigeon-proof. In the end, explained Smith, "the panels are all unique because of the system we developed to treat the facade pattern." The system involved applying stripes of glue-like retardant onto the formwork, pouring the concrete, allowing it to set 24 hours, then hosing it down to remove the still-wet material. "We didn't add anything to the facade; we subtracted it," said Smith. To minimize solar gain, Heatherwick Studio introduced narrow bands of glazing around the perimeter of each classroom. Having rejected curved glass as too costly, but wishing to avoid a faceted appearance, the architects arranged the flat panes in a zig-zag pattern. A slight floor-by-floor cantilever further cuts the heat, turning each story into a natural sunshade for those below it. Meanwhile, induction units positioned under the windows passively ventilate the classrooms. Rounded bronze-mesh balconies situated between each classroom wing draw air into and through the courtyard, producing a cross breeze no matter the direction of the wind. The final pin in the Learning Hub's sustainability cap (the building achieved the highest sustainability rating awarded by the government of Singapore) is the hydroponic greenery distributed across the balconies and rooftop garden. For Smith, the ongoing collaboration with concrete fabricator LWC was a crucial element of the Learning Hub's success. The contractor's ingenuity and willingness to work with the architects provided the level of distinction required by the NTU brief. "We spent a lot of time with the consultants working on colors and texture," said Smith. "The concrete has a handmade feel; we're very happy with that. In Europe you pick your facade from a catalogue, but in this situation we were able to design it from scratch."
Just two days ago, AN brought you word that Copenhagen- and New York–based Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and London-based Heatherwick Studio were teaming up to design the new headquarters for Google in Mountain View, California. At the time, it was only being reported that the complex would comprise "a series of canopylike buildings.” Well, now we know what those canopylike buildings will look like and a whole lot more. The Silicon Valley Business Journal first reported on the project design, publishing dramatic renderings and details on how the architects came up with their groundbreaking scheme. "Google—along with a team of prominent architects—has spent more than a year rethinking every assumption about office buildings, tech campuses, and how they relate to their neighborhoods," reported the newspaper. "The result? Four futuristic structures where basic building elements — floors, ceilings and walls — attach or detach from permanent steel frames, forming whole new workspaces of different sizes. With help from small cranes and robots ("crabots"), interiors will transform in hours, rather than months." Hear that? Crabots! A spokesperson at BIG declined to comment further on the design. http://youtu.be/z3v4rIG8kQA These four structures will be draped in glass canopies and are scaled as entire city blocks. The overall campus would also reportedly "see wide swaths of land returned to nature, criss-crossed by walking trails and dotted by plazas, community gardens and oak groves." There would even be a walking path that cuts through a building "letting outsiders inside the Google hive." Joining BIG and Heatherwick on this massive project is the San Francisco–based CMG Landscape Architecture, which is working with Gehry on the Facebook campus. "Today we’re submitting a plan to redevelop four sites—places where we already have offices but hope to significantly increase our square footage—to the Mountain View City Council," David Radcliffe, Google's Real Estate VP writes. "It’s the first time we'll design and build offices from scratch and we hope these plans by Bjarke Ingels at BIG and Thomas Heatherwick at Heatherwick Studio will lead to a better way of working." Google further unveiled the project on its blog this morning, revealing the video above. "The idea is simple. Instead of constructing immoveable concrete buildings, we’ll create lightweight block-like structures which can be moved around easily as we invest in new product areas," Radcliffe said on the blog. The project totals 3.4 million square feet and includes four sites. Google reportedly wants to have the first of these sites, known as "The Landing," completed by 2020. But before construction can start, the city must approve Google's hugely ambitious plans.
Presumably not wanting to be outdone by Facebook and its Frank Gehry–designed digs or Apple and its Norman Foster–designed doughnut, Google has tapped two architectural big hitters for its new Mountain View, California headquarters. According to the New York Times, the company is expected to announce that the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and Heatherwick Studio are behind the yet-to-be-seen design, which given the two firms' portfolios, should be pretty dramatic. But all we know at this point is that the headquarters will be comprised of "a series of canopylike buildings." No matter what the building—or buildings—looks like, it will likely get some pushback from the community which feels that Google is overextending its footprint in Mountain View. "When Google moved here in 1999," wrote the Times, "it had a dozen employees and a search engine known only to computer aficionados. Now, its 20,000 local employees make it the biggest employer in a city that is bursting at the seams." Two of the most pressing issues that Google and the city will have to hash out moving forward are housing and traffic.
Q+A> Thomas Heatherwick talks about architecture, being an outsider, and his new exhibition at the Hammer Museum
The new exhibition Provocations: The Architecture and Design of Heatherwick Studio opened Friday at Los Angeles' Hammer Museum. The show, curated by Brooke Hodge, explores the firm's creative process and the remarkable scope of its work, with a particular focus on public scale projects. AN West Editor Sam Lubell talked with Thomas Heatherwick about the exhibition, his outsider approach, and where he's heading now. Sam Lubell: There doesn't seem to be a category for your work. You're a designer and you're an inventor. Thomas Heatherwick: It surprised me, when I was growing up the word inventor was always connected to the word mad—mad inventor. And you couldn't study it. But the paintings we valued had an inventive move, the pieces of writing would have an inventive something in them. Sculpture, science, transportation. We're all curious about what the future will be, and the future is made from ideas. But you couldn't study that. The world of developing, evolving ideas was chopped up into these different things with titles. So I was quite surprised. I've always been motivated by where can you make a difference. In a way I'm a problem solver, that's what interests me. The thing is trying to find which problem, and your analysis of what a problem is and where it is. It's all problem solving. It's trying to work out the order to solve those in. You've called your firm "experts in not being experts." To me that's so fascinating. To not be stuck in the expected ideas of what you should be doing. It seems very challenging to maintain that. Especially when you get to be more of an expert in something. Luckily the world is big. Life is relatively short. Projects take so long to actually do that I don't feel worried about it. My studio's been going for twenty years, but you're seeing photographs of our first completed building project in Singapore. (The UK Pavilion is technically a big bungalow.) I think within everything, why waste your time copying yourself or others? There's an attempt to try to hunt down what the solution is. To me with each project, I feel like not that we're generating a solution, but that we're trying to find it. Which means it helps it to be broader than just myself. It really is we're together trying to solve a crime somehow. Often we'll do development work knowing it's not right. But you're needing to eliminate from your enquiries a strand of your ideas to see if they'll teach you something that might work. You've moved from smaller work to buildings and bridges. What's the next frontier? I feel I've barely scraped any frontier. This is going to sound very dull, but my grandmother at the end of her life was in a nursing home. We found the best nursing home we could for her, but it was a really poor environment. But the most alarming part of it was for the staff. We are all going to be that person one day who's there. I want to know society thanks them. I know I'll be old and rotting. It felt to me there's something really wrong in that. You feel you could make a real difference with relatively little resource. Another example is the prison system. Do you really want to hurt someone more and then they come out and sit next to you on the bus? Most people in British prisons have not had the benefits in their life that you and I have had. The notion of a prison as a learning place and not a hurting people more place is exciting. If there's a way to politically enable that to happen when the public wants to condemn. If you hurt them more it's not going to help you. You seem to have this spirit that anything's possible. People are resigned to these areas that you've mentioned. For you it's like no, it doesn't have to be that way. People are cynical, and you guys have this idealism that is really refreshing. I think I've been lucky that for some of the early projects, there were people who supported them and allowed them to happen. That gives you more encouragement to keep going and to believe the best in people. I've trained around some really hard-bitten architectural characters, and you understand why. Because it's very hard to make a building at all, let alone one with any value or quality. And it's really easy to get downtrodden and bitter. I suppose I've very consciously put that in my brain and tried to protect that, and not fall into that trap. Because it's like an itch that's easy to scratch. And as soon as you start scratching, if you don't believe the best of the people around you, then they will conform to being the worst. I see there's a lot of that idea of protecting and not allowing in the forces of cynicism. We're in an interesting time. Particularly in America there's a culture of entrepreneurial optimism and societal improvement in entrepreneurship. So I don't feel alone, I feel particularly inspired by the extraordinary examples of people pursuing an idea and believing something can happen, and there's no reason something shouldn't. Not blaming the world for ideas not happening. Since you're willing to rethink these processes, sometimes people get rubbed the wrong way. There's been some backlash about your attempt to move up in scale. People saying "he's not an architect." How do you respond to that? The studio has 120 architects, and it's a brilliant training. I'm very lucky to work with people who've trained in that way. There's always some friction in change. It would be very weird if there wasn't. The public area between all the private zones is the bit we all share. As we all know, some people are good at adapting to change and others are very fearful of it. You can't predict and control how people feel about things. But I'm very lucky to have this team, and I'm very lucky to have the support that I do. Any innovation I see happening is when people step outside their bubbles. And it seems like that's what you're willing to do. I've never been in a bubble. Maybe I've deliberately protected that. But I've also tried to bring in people who have that expertise to work with us. These designs are very provocative and complex, but they're very human. They're always grounded and approachable and understandable somehow. It's a very real interest. I'm very influenced by the Jane Jacobs book The Death and Life of Great American Cities. It almost made me fall in love with public-ness. With the bit we share together, and the subtle chemistry existing in the social interactions in public space. And William White, who analyzed public space so well in the 70s. Lessons that haven't been learned since. It's just re-tuning in to thinking that's already there, but trying to synthesize and bring that to bear on projects now. Do you think you have more interest now in the public realm than in doing projects for individuals? I've always had that. In a sense you can make more difference. We already know peoples' private homes can be sensational and gorgeous and impressive and that things in art galleries can be stunning and wonderful and in fact you're positively disappointed if they're not. Whereas we have very low expectations of public space. People really don't expect much at all. Having scaled up, are there any major lessons you've learned from working with architects? I built my first building when I was 21 at university, so this isn't new territory. But it takes years to be trusted by cities and property developers and cultural institutions. To be an architect is an impossibly big job. A really good architect is a collaborator, and harnesses the brainpower and brilliance of others. And I feel a strong sense that my role is to try to harness the brilliance of others, and to synthesize and bring that together into projects that have some meaning. I don't see myself so much as an author, I see myself as a "bringer-togetherer" of things. It's deep in me, the passion for both the space and the materiality. And I'm lucky to work with such good people.
The UK-based firm Knight Architects has created a pedestrian bridge in London that opens and closes like a Japanese folding fan. The Merchant Square Footbridge is comprised of five steel beams that sequentially open with the help of hydraulic jacks. The structure spans about 65 feet across the Grand Union Canal in the new mixed-use Merchant Square development in Paddington. Knight Architects, alongside structural engineering firm AKT II won a design competition for the bridge in 2012. In a statement, Knight explained that the individual beams together form the bridge's deck and that counterweights and a hydraulic system reduce the structure's energy use. Dezeen reported that the bridge opens up every Friday to accommodate passing ships. “A fixed structure wasn't viable at that site as the constraints wouldn’t allow for the ramps necessary to get above the shipping envelope,” project architect Bartlomiej Halaczek told Dezeen. “A moving structure however would have to be maintained, and as these are usually quite significant costs, we had to keep them low by not overcomplicating the structure and picking a relatively simple mechanical system.” Not far from Knight's fan-like bridge, is another impressive, canal-crossing structure: Heatherwick Studio's Rolling Bridge, which can curl up into a “circular sculpture.”