Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) recently revealed a new video of the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC), offering new perspectives for those who can’t make it to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to see it in person. The sprawling complex spans 750,000-square-feet and is a nonprofit research institution focused on studying the relationship between energy policy and social well-being around the world. King Abdullah Petroleum Studies And Research Centre (KAPSARC) from Zaha Hadid Architects on Vimeo. Its design riffs off of structural and formal themes the architect developed over her career. Hadid was inspired by honeycombs found in nature and also designed it in response to the environment of the Riyadh landscape. The building features irregular hexagonal shells structured around open courtyards, with a skylight oculus over each courtyard to offer strategic lighting and shading. Other passive and active environmental solutions have led to a LEED Platinum certification from the United States Green Building Council. The video showcases the building’s unique structure and gives an impression of how it feels to walk under the honeycomb-like cells. A walk-through in the video reveals the crystalline forms and modularity of the structure, which holds an energy knowledge center, energy computer center, conference center with an exhibition hall and 300-seat auditorium, a research library, and the Musalla, a place for prayer. The building was completed in 2017 and was one of the final projects that Hadid oversaw before she passed away. It was also featured in AN’s recent Saudi Arabia’s feature.
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This story originally appeared in our June 2018 issue. Read the first part of our Saudi Arabia feature here. With so many large-scale projects going up and wholly new urban areas in development, it can be hard to keep track of the myriad established architecture offices working across Saudi Arabia. Here is a quick guide to some of the biggest, tallest, and most cutting-edge projects in the works across the country. King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture Snøhetta Opening 2018 Snøhetta’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture is the by-product of a design competition led by the Saudi Aramco Oil Company, which wanted a new knowledge incubator for Saudi Arabia to symbolize the nation’s aspirations for a diversified economy. The one-million-square-foot complex will feature a 930-seat Grand Hall as well as a cinema, library, exhibition hall, museum, and archive, among other offerings. The desert-bound structure is designed to resemble a series of stacked pebbles clad in parallel bands of metal piping. Inside, these give way to graphic, linear patterns that reveal a delicate metal structure underneath. Meanwhile, the Grand Hall's ceiling is wrapped in perforated copper panels. Jeddah Tower (formerly Kingdom Tower)| Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture; Calthorpe Associates Opening 2020 When completed, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill’s 3,280-foot Jeddah Tower will stand as the tallest building on Earth. The organically shaped pinnacle will be the focal point of the Kingdom City development (population: 210,000), a forthcoming $20 billion economic area master planned by Berkeley, California–based Calthorpe Associates for Saudi Arabia’s west coast. The tapered skyscraper is structured to mimic desert vegetation and is built with petal-shaped apartment blocks at its base. It will also contain a hotel, commercial spaces, and a variety of observation platforms above. King Abdullah University of Science & Technology BuroHappold; HOK Completed 2009 In 2009, St. Louis, Missouri–based HOK designed and built an 8,900-acre campus for the King Abdullah University of Science & Technology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, in just over 30 months. The 940-student university contains some of the most advanced scientific lab equipment in the world and features 5.5 million square feet spread across 27 buildings, including two million square feet of laboratories. The labs are arrayed across four 500,000-square-foot structures designed to be “flexible building shells” with universal floor plates that can accommodate different lab setups. The structures are wrapped in horizontal metal louvers to control for glare while the campus library is faced with translucent stone cladding that casts light from within at night. Haramain High-Speed Railway Stations Foster + Partners; BuroHappold Opening 2018 Foster + Partners and BuroHappold are working on a series of transformative high-speed rail (HSR) stations across the country as the Saudi government pushes to boost regional connectivity with a new 280-mile-long HSR line with stops in Medina, Mecca, Jeddah, and the King Abdullah Financial District. Designs for the stations are meant to seed new urban areas in each locale by fusing cavernous, 85-foot-tall arched interior spaces with strategically-placed solid facades to limit solar gain, overhead bridges to create covered outdoor spaces around the stations, and direct connections to the country’s most bustling cities. The line is expected to open sometime this year and will carry 135 million passengers per year by 2042. King Abdullah Financial District Henning Larsen; SOM Opening 2020 Danish architecture firm Henning Larsen has master planned a new business district on the northern edge of Riyadh, where 59 high-rise towers are now in the works. The firm took inspiration from the city’s historic center when calibrating the positioning of each of those towers, generating a taut, tall cluster of angled and closely set monoliths. The arrangement is designed to minimize solar penetration into the city, resulting in ambient temperatures—the designers hope—up to ten degrees cooler than surrounding areas. The massive, nearly complete development area has been in the works for years and features contributions from SOM, CallisonRTKL, Gensler, Foster + Partners, and many others. King Abdullah Petroleum Studies & Research Center Zaha Hadid Architects Opening 2018 Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) recently completed the 750,000-square-foot KAPSARC (King Abdullah Petroleum Studies & Research Center) complex, a nonprofit research institution focused on “policies that contribute to the most effective use of energy to provide social well-being across the globe.” The honeycomb-shaped complex is designed to optimize solar and wind orientation and is made up of five buildings clustered around a series of interlocking courtyards topped by metal canopies. The complex, which opened earlier this year, was one of the final projects Hadid oversaw. Among other features, it includes a 300-seat auditorium, a library with 100,000 volumes in its archive, and an inspirational prayer area called a Musalla.
This story originally appeared in our June 2018 issue and will be followed by a list of the largest projects currently underway in Saudi Arabia. When work on the Kingdom Tower by architects Adrian Smith Gordon Gill (ASGG) is completed in 2020 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, its elevators will bring visitors up to the building’s highest residential floors 114 stories up in roughly 52 seconds, where views will stretch out over the Red Sea and beyond. The trip, dizzying as it might sound, is symbolic of the speed at which Saudi Arabia is embracing new globalized perspectives as it seeks to pivot away from oil and toward a diverse, sustainable economy via its Saudi Vision 2030 plan, an initiative that seeks to crystallize this transformation. United States Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recently touted the efforts at an economic summit, saying, “We're standing with [the Saudis] as they're about to transform both their society and their economy. This new move I think could be even more dramatic and more far-reaching for the whole geopolitical sector than was the original hydrocarbon." He means it could be more transformative than oil. The nation has been undergoing change for some time now, as it embarks on the early stages of fulfilling the dream of its recently-deceased monarch—King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud passed away in 2015—who sought to re-open Saudi Arabia to the rest of the world after a period of relative isolation. Abdullah’s initial plans involved developing several economic development zones that function outside of domestic norms and laws. These new areas aim to make the Kingdom a node for global finance between the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, seek to spur innovation at home with investments in universities, and look to boost appeal among tourists and pilgrims to its many religious and cultural sites. The effort has continued under the new king—Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud—and the heir apparent Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), who are enacting further reforms under the mantle of their Saudi Vision 2030 program. Vision 2030 The many changes are due to necessity more than anything else—over 70 percent of the Saudi population is less than 30 years old—while job and housing prospects for this group are anemic under the existing models. To boot, over 200,000 Saudis are currently earning professional and academic degrees abroad and will eventually join ascendant Saudi millennials in demanding steady, well-paying jobs (and relaxed social mores) that the oil economy simply will not be able to provide. The National Transformation Program, part of Vision 2030, calls for creating more than 450,000 new jobs for Saudis by 2020, increasing the private sector’s contribution to the national GDP, and boosting housing production and incentivizing housing affordability across the country. New cities and neighborhoods will be developed to meet this need, with Saudi authorities expecting to spend more than $78 billion on Vision 2030 initiatives between 2016 and 2020 alone. The new cities, infrastructure, and urban monuments that result will embody the manifold economic reforms the state wishes to embrace as it moves forward. Vision 2030 seeks to add no fewer than five new megacities and many smaller developments to the country over the next decade or so. These large and multifaceted developments, generally speaking, will be designed to have regionally specific industrial focuses like global finance, agribusiness, and religious tourism, and will be connected via new transportation investments like high-speed rail on the west coast and an upgraded central airport in the capital city of Riyadh and the country’s second largest city, Jeddah. The result, should it come to pass, will be one of massive change embodied by glimmering, faceted towers, cul-de-sac-bound streets, and tightly packed townhouses. As new reforms take off, and earlier experiments come online, questions on the nature of the coming changes abound. Is the sacrifice of historic and natural sites in the name of progress worthwhile? Will the reforms stave off social unrest in the future? New Cities A recently announced plan calls for the creation of a new multinational economic area called NEOM, a 10,230-square-mile purpose-built city (nearly 34 times larger in area than New York City) planned on the edge of the Red Sea. The megacity, focused on energy, water, biotechnology, and food production, is expected to cost $500 billion and will be jointly developed with Egypt, Jordan, and Israel, all of which share borders or Red Sea access with the development. Although an official master plan for the region has not been unveiled, a design document prepared for the area calls for “opulent buildings with modern and traditional Moroccan-style architecture." Like other forthcoming economic zones, NEOM will be designed with judicial and governing bodies that exist outside traditional Saudi governmental structures, a bid to leapfrog over incremental reforms and develop globalization-friendly areas that are attractive to young Saudis, international investors, and tourists. At least four other economic zones were planned prior to MBS’s tenure, including the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD), a 17.2-million-square-foot development master planned by Danish architects Henning Larsen on the northern edge of Riyadh. After lengthy delays, the leaf-shaped business district will be complete later this year. According to Henning Larsen, the district is planned in tightly grouped clusters of high-rise office and residential towers that are organized to mitigate solar heat gain. The faceted towers connect via networks of elevated skyways and will frame lively pedestrian zones along lower levels inspired by the region’s seasonal wadi riparian landscapes. Here, pedestrians will find shelter from the crippling heat while infrastructural elements capture and recycle runoff and rainwater. Overhead trams will provide further shade while the buildings’ varied geometries deflect direct sunlight. The firm studied the site’s solar and wind patterns intensely in order to generate a development envelope and site plan for KAFD that work together to bring down ambient temperatures by as much as ten degrees. KAFD will be connected to the rest of the city by a new metro system—one of many ground-up transit systems being built across the country—that will include six transit lines with 85 stations and 110 miles of track. The system is being developed by Bechtel, Siemens, Alstom, and Samsung, while station design is being undertaken by international architecture offices, including Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) and Snøhetta. At the center of the citadel will be HOK’s Central Market Authority Tower. Developed with Saudi architects Omrania, the 76-story office building will feature triangulated exterior walls wrapped in an outward layer of horizontal fins and perforated metal panels. The highly articulated building will be joined by 58 other skyscrapers designed by various international firms, including SOM, CallisonRTKL, Gensler, Foster + Partners, and others. Describing the project, Roger Soto, senior vice president at HOK, said, “We carefully designed the building to be a part of [its] place.” Another new economic zone is the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) outside of Jeddah on the Red Sea coast. The 65-square-mile development is master planned by a consortium led by SOM and BuroHappold and is billed as “a new world city for Saudi Arabia” that will take the country “far beyond the oil-based economy,” according to Fahd Al-Rasheed, managing director and CEO of KAEC. The new megacity will ultimately house two million residents and is located near the major cities of Mecca, Medina, and Jeddah. Carved into successive coastal, industrial, port, and business zones, the district will include the aforementioned Jeddah Tower by ASGG, which is currently under construction in the city’s “financial island,” a central business district. The nearby King Abdullah University of Science & Technology, also by HOK, opened in 2009 as the kingdom’s first co-ed university. The two nodes will sit at the nexus of the Haramain HSR line connecting Medina in the north with KAEC, Jeddah, and Mecca to the south. The rail line will feature stations designed by Foster + Partners and BuroHappold that are meant to act as large-scale welcome portals to each city. Each station is unique to its locale, but all present cavernous, 85-foot-tall arched interior volumes with intricate structural detailing. The stations, designed to strategically avoid direct solar glare and filled with wide-ranging functions, will also create accessible pedestrian zones at each stop, allowing travelers to seamlessly arrive into town car-free. When the 280-mile-long HSR line opens sometime this year, it will effectively create a contiguous urban spine along Saudi Arabia’s west coast with economic, educational, civic, and religious nodes. Two other economic cities are in the works, including the Knowledge Economic City (KEC) outside of Medina that will focus on intellectual property, knowledge-based industries, and medical, hospitality, tourism, and multimedia endeavors. The development is planned by AECOM as a residential hub and will offer housing for 150,000 Saudis across four distinct neighborhoods populated by apartment blocks, townhouses, and detached homes. The city will aim to provide roughly 20,000 jobs and is planned to contain large shopping and commercial areas. KEC is currently under development and is expected to be finished in 2025—five years later than originally anticipated. Smaller satellite cities across the country, anchored by cultural, academic, or economic institutions—like ZHA's King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) in Riyadh—are also in development. The energy- and technology-focused think tank headquarters and cultural center is envisaged as a cluster of courtyard pods. The building is joined nearby by the KAPSARC Community, a new 200-home sustainable neighborhood by HOK. The 500-acre development features umbrella-shaded community spaces, a spiritual district, and neat rows of geometric, off-white villas. HOK is also at work on a similar arts-focused community located beside Snøhetta’s King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture (KACWC) in Dhahran. Snøhetta’s pebble-shaped cultural center contains an auditorium, a cinema, a library, and a museum, among other services, all spread out across a stack of bulbous, metal-tube-wrapped volumes. In creating a complementary residential component to KACWC, design principal Roger Schwabacher and his team at HOK aimed to “create a place to celebrate traditional Saudi craft that also doubles as a next-generation incubator space” for Saudi creatives, Schwabacher said. Too Much Too Fast? In the city of Mecca, however, development is moving too quickly for some. Mecca is the Holiest City in Islam and hosts over 2.4 million pilgrims during the 2017 Hajj and Umrah annual pilgrimages. Efforts are underway to expand that number to north of 17 million pilgrims in coming decades, a prospect that has resulted in many renovations and large new public and private works. Recent hotel expansions, in particular, have led to the loss of much of the historic fabric surrounding the Great Mosque at the center of the city. In 2013, for example, the house of Muhammad's first wife, Khadījah bint Khuwaylid, was torn down and replaced with a new public bathroom facility intended to handle the increased visitors. The loss, one of several high-profile demolitions in recent years, angered many and brought into question the lengths Saudi officials are taking to solidify tourism as an economic force in the country. Other high-profile improvements include the addition of wheelchair-accessible viewing ramps to the Great Mosque, as well as a forthcoming expansion of the Great Mosque’s worship spaces that will double capacity to 1.2 million worshipers. All of these changes can now be seen from the city’s tallest spire, the Abraj Al Bait tower, by German architecture firm SL Rasch GmbH. The 1,972-foot-tall Big Ben–like structure is rooted in a cluster of midrise hotel and shopping mall towers and was completed in 2011, ushering in a wave of high-rise development directly beside the Great Mosque. The massive clock-tower-topped complex is now joined by the multiphase Jabal al Kaaba hotel, an even more tightly packed cluster of mixed-use towers containing a total of 8,500 hotel rooms. The projects will soon be joined by additional developments by Foster + Partners, HOK, and other international offices. The Foster + Partners project, for example, will bring a crystalline bundle of hotel and apartment towers conceived under a philosophy of “luxury with humility,” marketing speak meant to attract wealthy pilgrims to the new high-end residences. Once completed in a few years, the project will function as a gateway to the new multimodal King Abdul Aziz Road, a 2.27-mile-long spine of development connecting central Mecca with the country’s transportation network. The road will contain a 200-foot-wide promenade and will be surrounded by 100,000 residential units and 28,000 hotel rooms. Regardless of the reception, however, one thing is clear: In Saudi Arabia, the future is almost here, and it looks very, very big.
The first-ever “Hat Party on the High Line” event drew a rowdy crowd of art, culture, fashion, and architecture aficionados to the elevated park last night courtesy of the Friends of the High Line, with proceeds going to support the park’s continued operation and atmosphere of inclusivity. The night was sponsored by a huge host committee made up of some of architecture’s biggest names (including Diller Scofidio + Renfro, BIG, James Corner Field Operations, Zaha Hadid Architects, Rafael Viñoly Architects, and more) and hosted by Diane von Furstenberg. Perhaps the biggest draw was the 9:00 PM hat contest, where guests strutted their stuff on a runway in front of judges Alan Cumming, Aki Sasamoto, Florent Morellet, Charles Renfro, NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, and Vi Vacious and Acid Betty from RuPaul's Drag Race. Partygoers rose to the challenge and presented their wildest hats, most of them inspired by the plant life and views of the High Line, to raucous applause. While BIG debuted a twisting-tower hat reminiscent of their High Line-topping XI, Zaha Hadid Architects 3D printed a swooping blue and white hat reminiscent of the curves found at 520 West 28th, and other studios including SOM and DS+R all competed to take home the crown. Ultimately the night was won by Vinayak Portonovo of Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU), seen modeling the studio’s contribution; a glitzy take on PAU’s plan for the new Penn Station.
The Morpheus Hotel, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, opens today in Macau. The 40-story, 770-room hotel is part of the City of Dreams resort complex and rises out of a foundation laid for an abandoned condo project. ZHA used this existing foundation and “extruded” the building up from it, creating a sculpted structure in part inspired by jade carving traditions. The building is fundamentally two separate towers connected by floating passages. The central voids carved out of the structure offer a visual connection to the surrounding urban area while maximizing views for guest rooms. Mirroring the outside structural elements, the “world’s first free-form high-rise exoskeleton,” the interior public spaces are filled with lattices sculpted into ZHA’s signature biomorphic forms. Apart from the guest rooms, there are ample public spaces, meeting rooms, event spaces, gaming rooms, a restaurant, a spa, and a rooftop pool. The bridges traversing the voids form spaces for the hotel’s various restaurants, bars, and lounges. More than a singular, striking structure, however, ZHA project director Viviana Muscettola says that the hotel’s unique parametric design “will radically change how our built environment is planned and constructed.”
As preparations and celebrations unfurl for the 2018 FIFA World Cup kick-off in Russia tomorrow, AN has rounded up our favorite up-and-coming projects (and new sports venues) across the country. From James Bond-esque houses and parachute-themed neighborhoods to massive new developments, Russia has provided a playground for high-profile firms to experiment with new forms. Below are some of the wildest and most ambitious projects announced or completed recently, including the venues for the games themselves: Silhouette Location: Moscow MVRDV The modular Silhouette was the result of a design competition that concluded in January of this year and will serve as a “gateway to Moscow” once completed. The 256-foot-tall, mixed-use complex contains a bit of everything—luxury apartments on the top floors and a roof terrace, offices, a sports center, and a grocery store at its base. The pixelated tower block will be clad in a red ceramic tile, and the form takes cues from abstractions of Moscow’s skyline and the constructivist Ministry of Agriculture building across the street. The extrusions and sculptural cuts at the building’s base were carefully planned to create an inviting presence at ground level. Tuschino District Residential Development Location: Moscow Steven Holl Architects and Kamen Steven Holl Architects and Kamen Architecture Art-Group have proposed a new “Parachute Hybrids” typology for their residential development in Moscow’s Tushino district. Drawing inspiration from the site’s history as a former paratrooper airfield, the vertically-oriented slabs and horizontal bases have been run through with circular cuts reminiscent of parachutes drifting through the sky. Tushino will offer residences of every type and target every income bracket, while a new kindergarten and elementary school will serve residents in the development. “Tushino can be an important urban model for 21st century high density living, shaping public open space,” said Steven Holl. “The new building type we have proposed here, inspired by the site’s history, is unique to this place.” Capital Hill Residence Location: Moscow Zaha Hadid Architects The recently completed Capital Hill Residence was the only private house designed by Hadid herself, and the towering form bears all of the late architect’s signature biomorphic curves. Rising above the tree line of the Moscow’s Barvikha Forest like an emerging submarine, the house’s prominent “mast” seemingly floats 72 feet above the landscape and provides sweeping views. The building’s base gradually tapers into the earth below and provides a private area for the homeowner to retreat to. The organic shape of the concrete and dramatic change in elevation is meant to give viewers the impression of something fast-moving and fluid. Admiral Serebryakov Embankment master plan Location: Novorossiysk Zaha Hadid Architects and Pride TPO (Moscow) ZHA will be responsible for revitalizing nearly 35 acres of coastal neighborhood along the Black Sea in Novorossiysk at Russia’s largest port. Residents can expect new opportunities for outdoor leisure activities on the Black Sea, a new port, marina, new piers, and a weaving of the new areas into the city’s existing urban. The master plan will also bring nine new buildings to the waterfront, each representing a different stage in a sequential iterative design, creating a sweeping, wave-like skyline in the process. The one million square feet of new space will be used for a hotel, civic and conference spaces, and offices. The project is moving quickly, and construction on the first phase will begin in the second half of 2019. Ekaterinburg Arena Location: Yekaterinburg PI Arena (2015-2017 renovation) Originally built in 1956 as the multi-sport Central Stadium, Ekaterinburg Arena was recently renovated in 2011. Although it was modernized, the arena’s 20,000-seat capacity meant that another round of work would be needed to bring the arena up to FIFA’s 35,000 seat minimum. Another renovation took place in 2015 that saved the building’s historic facade and increased the stadium's capacity, but temporary seating to bring the arena’s capacity up to 45,000 seats was still needed, and has been installed behind both goal areas for the four World Cup games being played there. Volgograd Arena Location: Volgograd Sport-Engineering A spiraling lattice swirls around the base of Volgograd Arena, one of the stadiums built for this year’s World Cup. The project was built on a budget, but the exposed superstructure, squat single-piece form, and colorful cable roof makes it architecturally distinct from many of the Soviet-era venues made from concrete. After the World Cup, Volgograd Arena will have its seating capacity reduced down to 35,000 and the stadium will become the new home of local football club Rotor Volgograd. Nizhny Novgorod Stadium Location: Nizhny Novgorod OAO Stroytransgaz A light and airy stadium at the fork of two rivers, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium was designed with elements of air and water in mind. The white-and-blue color palette and spacious use of columns to create open-air areas helps lend the stadium a feeling of openness. At night, the building emanates light from the top and sides through its semi-transparent facade. The stadium was commissioned for the 2018 World Cup and was completed last year. The building boasts a 45,000-seat capacity and will be handed over to football club Olimpiyets Nizhny Novgorod after the World Cup is over.
Makeup brand Il Makiage has opened up a new Soho pavilion designed by Zaha Hadid Architects to coincide with the launch of their new 800-product collection. The pavilion’s angular tunnel of ribbons with alternating gloss and matte finishes mimics the makeup’s packaging in exploded form. Each of the ribbons is slightly different and lighting is installed in them and around the mirrors, helping shoppers accurately choose the right color and tone. Kar-Hwa Ho, head of interiors at Zaha Hadid Architects, said that they “wanted to create an environment defined by the woman celebrated by Il Makiage,” adding that the pavilion is intended to be a “personal space that’s all about her.” The mobile pavilion will be open in Soho for six months and a second New York City pavilion will be opening in Flatiron this summer. Zaha Hadid Architects is also developing the permanent Il Makiage New York boutique, as well as locations in D.C. and Miami.
Following a 2017 change to U.K. law that required firms with 250 or more employees to report their gender pay gaps, Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) has released data showing their female employees were paid 20.86 percent less on average in 2017. The firm’s pay gap reflect a general trend across the industry, although some firms have an average pay gap as low as ten percent, according to the Architect’s Journal. Through an in-house report produced by ZHA (available here), the firm compared the median incomes earned by both men and women–the middle-most figure–to calculate the pay disparity. Men were paid 20.86 percent more on average and received bonuses 64.94 larger on average, while only 75.6 percent of women received a bonus in 2017 versus 84.05 percent of men at the studio. Across the firm’s 310 U.K. employees, 37 percent are women. ZHA has chalked this imbalance up to the higher percentage of men in leadership positions, who have been with the firm the longest and command bonuses that are tied to the company’s revenue. According to the report:
“This pay gap exists because [a] higher proportion of our longest-serving team members who grew the practice with Zaha Hadid over the past 30 years are male and have continued to lead the company since her passing in 2016. We therefore currently have a smaller proportion of women than men in higher paid senior positions.”In an effort to address these imbalances, ZHA has increased the company’s maternity pay and partnered with the Architect’s Journal’s Women in Architecture forum. A mentorship program has also been established throughout the firm. Still, even as firms are motivated by public exposure to address the imbalances in pay between men and women, studies have shown that the pay gap is widening. Foster + Partners, AECOM, and other big names have disclosed similar figures, though they claim that the imbalance also results from having more men at the top and not as an equal pay issue. Foster + Partners has, for their part, also committed to broadening gender diversity at the senior level, while AECOM pledged to create a more inclusive workforce. Transparency in the field has become a pressing topic as of late, as more and more women have been coming forward with their experiences regarding harassment, discrimination, and general misconduct. A full list of U.K. companies who have disclosed their pay and bonus gap data is available here. Companies have until April 4 to disclose their pay gap report, and more industry figures will be forthcoming.
Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) is facing community backlash over recently unveiled plans to bring a double-pronged, mixed-use tower to Vauxhall, South London. As reported by the Architect’s Journal, the building was submitted for local council approval in December, but has caught the public’s ire over the 53-story and 42-story towers that would rise right on the bank of the River Thames. Linked by an 11-story base, the Vauxhall scheme would hold 257 apartments and 618 hotel rooms across the two towers, as well as seven floors of office space in the base and retail at the ground level. Both the towers and the base will feature a glass curtain wall overlain with a unifying exoskeleton-like façade that stretches and decompresses as the building rises, exposing uninterrupted glass near the top. It would also become the tallest building in the emerging Vauxhall area, with the taller tower potentially topping out at about 607 feet. It would be ZHA’s first major mixed-use residential building in the United Kingdom, and the studio sees it as a “breakthrough project,” according to the Architect’s Journal. Local critics see the development as a “two-fingered salute.” The site had previously won permission for a pair of 41- and 31-story towers designed by London’s Squire & Partners, and residents, as well as non-profit groups, are gearing up to contest the development. “Although these buildings are better designed than the Squires ones, this application is attempting to add more height by stealth,” architect Barbara Weiss told the Architect’s Journal. ‘The River Thames is becoming a canyon and the price to the skyline of Boris Johnson’s liberal approach to tall buildings is becoming increasingly clear.” Other than the project’s height, advocates are also outraged over the lack of specific affordable housing promises, the decrease in residential units from the prior Squires plan, and the projected traffic congestion the project would cause. Compounding the controversy is that the ZHA towers would rise next to the iconic Vauxhall bus station, which was designed by ARUP in 2005 and now faces demolition only 13 years later. ZHA has for their part, pushed back against the controversy and claimed that fears of congestion or shadows were without merit. Jim Heverin, ZHA’s director, told the AJ that the studio was still in talks with the project’s developer over finalizing the number of affordable housing units. ‘When we came onto this scheme, it was right that we looked at the heights,’ said Heverin. “We evolved the scheme to create a new public square. Our scheme takes less land on the ground but is higher. There is a lot more density coming into this area. Our project fits within a master plan that has been looked at by Transport for London.” The soaring Vauxhall towers plan would seem to fit well with ZHA head Patrick Schumacher’s fondness for density and what the Guardian has called a propensity for “neoliberal privatization schemes.”
Nearly 50 well known architecture, engineering, and landscape architecture firms have teamed up to bring a massive edible exhibition to life, as London’s Museum of Architecture hosts its annual Gingerbread City show. Master planned and sponsored by Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, the utopian cookie metropolis is built to 1:100 scale and comprised of four neighborhoods. Old Town, which has twisting, narrow streets and is centered around Crumble Square, an industrialized New Town with a Central Baking District, a waterside energy district, and “eco-town”. The vastly differing styles of each neighborhood allowed the museum to feature every architectural typology, while designers were free to experiment in every style. Participants were asked to design for one of four categories, housing, landscapes, landmark buildings, or bridges, but with the caveat that they had to bake and decorate the gingerbread themselves. Foster + Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects, NBBJ, Periscope, Pitman Tozer, Burwell Deakins and dozens of other studios have all contributed to the Gingerbread City, including several bridges which link the distinct districts together. Zaha Hadid Architects and Foster + Partners were each given entire inidvidual islands in the eco-town to decorate as they wished. Because gingerbread is a finicky material to build with, firms had to find ways to keep their buildings structurally sound, while still being edible. Sugar glass, gumdrops, frosting and melted candy were all turned into supporting elements. But even the most intelligently designed cookie building is vulnerable to the elements. Speaking with CNN, museum director Melissa Woolford said that humidity inside the museum wreaked havoc on last year’s display, and that several buildings had collapsed in 2016’s show. Gingerbread City will be on display at the Museum of Architecture until this Friday, December 22nd.
Zaha Hadid Architects, Arcplus, and Wilson Associates join forces to offer comprehensive project services
Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA), Arcplus, and Wilson Associates have teamed up to offer comprehensive design, architecture, and engineering services to clients across the globe. With over 7,000 employees, Arcplus is the largest design group in China. The firm focuses on civic and commercial architecture, as well as transportation. Wilson Associates, meanwhile, works primarily in high-end hospitality and interiors. Recent projects include the Hilton Chengdu in Chengdu, China and the Montage Kapalua Bay, Hawaii. And ZHA almost doesn't need an introduction—with offices on three continents, the firm's 400 designers are currently working on more than 60 projects worldwide. In addition to project collaboration, the team will also research high-rise buildings (though ZHA's latest skyscraper, 666 Fifth Avenue, may be off the table for good). “We see this alliance as a continuation of global best practice, pioneering research and innovation, where each of the three firms' individual strengths will deliver the most ambitious projects," Zaha Hadid Architects explained in a prepared statement. "The combination of design excellence, resources, knowledge and sector leading expertise enables us to deliver more sophisticated, high-performance and high-value projects.” The collaboration will be celebrated in London and New York, following a ribbon cutting ceremony and partnership agreement in Shanghai.
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Originally unveiled in 2013, Zaha Hadid’s first residential property in New York is nearing completion. Situated on the High Line in close proximity to Hudson Yards, one of NYC’s largest developments, the intimate building offers 39 condo units, many of which include private vestibules and entrances. The project is perhaps the epitome of luxury “21st-century dwelling” in New York, but for all of its loaded amenities catering to private residents–an automated valet, one of the first private IMAX theatres in the world, advanced home automation capabilities, 24-hour gym, juice bar, private automated storage accessed via a secured viewing room (inspired by the design of a Swiss bank vault nonetheless)–the architects say the essence of this project is about an urban contextual response that results in a building that doubles as public art for passersby to enjoy. This dynamic plays out in the building envelope, a sculptural expression of hand-rubbed steel that weaves between motorized doors, windows, and curved glass units. Ed Gaskin, senior associate at Zaha Hadid Architects, said “in the great tradition of quintessential New York buildings, such as Rockefeller Center and the Chrysler Building, 520 West 28th is a building that seeks to improve the public realm through art and architecture.” The proximity of the High Line was particularly important for the architects, who say they were inspired by the overlay of public space near the site, namely the contrast between an elevated free-flowing High Line pathway with the urban grid of streets below. In response, the architects developed an “urban layering” concept that resulted in split levels, challenging the orthodoxy of flat floor plate construction. The resulting split-level configuration is articulated by a continuous chevron ribbon composed of a 900-piece hand-rubbed steel panel installation. “Rather than a staggered zigzag climbing the facade from floor to floor, the chevron is a continuous line, extending along and framing living spaces, bending around the soft curves of unbroken panoramic glass corners and wrapping the facade in free flowing lines each connected and looping continuously from one floor to the next,” said Gaskin. “Balconies and set-back terraces further express a sense of layering in the urban fabric heightened by balconies projecting and dynamically gesturing toward the High Line where it meets the site.” The metal facade was meticulously hand-crafted from stainless steel, recalling the spirit of Chelsea’s industrial past. The panels were engineered, cut, and welded by M. Cohen and Sons, a Philadelphia-based metal fabrication group offering design assist, engineering, project management, and installation services. They achieved a lustrous blackened finish by an antiquing process, light orbital brushing and hand tinting, to produce an effect that resonates with the adjacent elevated rail structure of the High Line. The structuring of the 11-story building was achieved with a conventional flat plate in-situ reinforced concrete. Local areas of post-tensioning were required where cantilevered floors and balconies exceed the limits of flat plate spans. Glazing design was key to the energy and visual performance of the building envelope. Insulated glazing units (IGU’s) track continuously around flat and radiused segments of the perimeter of the building. IGUs are composed of a layered assembly of three low iron glass panels, two of which are laminated together, with an air void along with low-e coatings for solar protection. The transition between flat and curved units was greatly scrutinized by the project team to ensure visual clarity and color consistency across the fluid expression of the building envelope. One of the challenges, however, was the convex and concave curvatures of the design required varied glazing manufacturing processes which yielded slightly different visual results. The major difference between concave and convex glazing was the location of the coating surface, which produced an “almost imperceptible change in color” according to Gaskin, who said the team “exploited architectural conditions to minimize the visual impact of these differences.” The concave units were located in full shade at deep balcony recesses, contrasting with exposed conditions of the convex units. Gaskin said this contrast of conditions assisted in masking the already subtle differences in glazing appearance. Additionally, during the product sourcing phase, the project team’s attention was focused on testing the supplier’s capability to deliver consistent quality through production and inspection of full-scale mock-ups. This attention to detail ultimately resulted in a “continuity of quality,” according to Gaskin, which was achieved by “understanding material qualities, impacts of manufacturing techniques and working with suppliers to coordinate and test results across different types of glass manufacturing and window unit assemblies.” The project complied with all code requirements, maximizing gross floor area (GFA), building height, and standard setback conformance. The IGUs were installed in a curtain wall system that hung on the outside of floor decks to fully enclose the building. These were selected after design simulation models of thermal and energy performance, which compared the assembly to more commonly-specified window wall systems which sit between floor decks. Gaskin said the facade design at 520 W 28th “successfully demonstrates a way of achieving dynamic and organic sculptural form by repetition of a limited number of standard cladding panel types. Further, use of common installation details and practices allows us to apply the best practices for envelope performance and costs.”