Venerable old institutions in England are looking for a fresh look these days. The nearly 200-year-old Old Vic Theatre in London is the latest to make plans for a much-needed facelift. The institutions artistic director, actor Kevin Spacey, is committed to bringing the structure into the 21st century through refurbishment of the current building and expansion into a newly acquired adjacent space.
In architecturally crowded Hong Kong, plazas are a rare breath of open air. The luxurious Causeway Bay district, whose retail rental rates surpassed New York City’s Fifth Avenue in 2012, is home to one of these sparse open spaces, Sunning Plaza. I.M. Pei’s 27-story edifice faces a large public courtyard, a hardscape relief within the densely built area devoted to commercial shops and restaurants.
But, such a luxury is always in threat of expansion. Artinfo reported that developer Hysan will soon be converting the space into additional commercial stores and offices. Pei’s 1982 building is to be demolished by the end of this year and the plaza is going with it.
This past weekend, a jury of architects, engineers, and market experts scored Team Austria’s home entry as the winner of the United States Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, a student design competition aimed at educating and encouraging thought about the affordability and efficiency of solar homes. As AN reported, the Team Austria private residential design is environmentally sensitive and easily adaptable, chosen for its overall energy efficiency, attractiveness of design, cost, and comfortable living conditions.
However, of the 19 designs by collegiate teams from the United States, Canada, the Czech Republic, and Austria presented in Irvine, California, the public had a dissenting opinion about the Decathlon winner. The People’s Choice Award vote went to UrbanEden from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; this concrete and glass-based modern structure was the majority’s favorite home entry. Continue Reading After the Jump
Proving the beauty and sustainable capability of steel construction, the winning projects of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) 2012-2013 Steel Design Student Competition have been announced. The competition, launched last spring, called for comprehensive and environmentally thoughtful steel designs in two categories. The first, Building to Bridge, sought a plan for a long-span pedestrian bridge whose location would be enriched by the connection it created. And the second, Open, allowed for full flexibility in student design ideas of steel construction.
The ACSA chose winners whose projects represented “creative and innovative use of structural steel in the design solution, successful response of the design to its surrounding context, and successful response to basic architectural concepts.”
Children are the focus of twenty new designs by some of the United Kingdom’s top architects. A Dolls’ House, launched by UK property redevelopment firm Cathedral Group, invited architects like Zaha Hadid, David Adjaye, and Alford Hall Monaghan Morris to scale down their architectural feats to a miniature size, each creating a dollhouse of innovative design for auction at Bonhams next month.
Next Tuesday, the nearly 850-foot-tall Shenzhen Stock Exchange Building will be inaugurated as the new head of capitalist trading in Hong Kong. OMA, Rem Koolhaas’ architectural firm, was commissioned to design and construct the soaring structure in 2006. After nearly $500 million in expenditures, according to reports by the Wall Street Journal blog, the square-form skyscraper with a surprising floating base, is complete.
Plans have been revealed for the reconstruction of London’s famed Crystal Palace and its surrounding 180-acre public park after London’s Mayor Boris Johnson, accepted an $800 million investment promise from Shanghai-based investors ZhongRong Group. Constructed in 1851 for the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, a fire ravaged Joseph Paxton’s glass and cast iron structural innovation in 1936. Since then, the area has been mostly abandoned with even the sizable public green space around it largely unused except for temporary events. At the launch event last week, ZhongRong Group announced its funding plans and independent engineering firm, ARUP, revealed their renovation renderings and park design plans.
In St. Paul, Minnesota, public art is valued as more than just decoration. Susannah Schouweiler of Walker Magazine reported that the city has been proactive in the encouragement of artist-city government collaboration for nearly three decades, long before initiatives like ArtPlace became popular. City Artist in Residence positions exist on the government council, City Art Collaboratory puts artists in conversation with scientists to embed themselves in the “ecology” of the city, and art start-ups are encouraging business growth on “Central Corridor.” This cross-disciplinary relationship is only expanding in what Schouweiler calls St. Paul’s “quiet revolution in public art” and the city is reaping the benefits.
A few years ago, 12th-century-built Astley Castle was no more than a fire-ravaged, crumbling medieval structure in the English countryside.
Now, since its clever restoration by Witherford Watson Mann Architects in 2012, the Landmark Trust-sponsored residence in Warwickshire has been deemed “building of the year” as the winner of the most prestigious architectural prize in the United Kingdom, the Royal Institute of British Architects’ 2013 Stirling Prize. With its fortified ruins artfully incorporated into contemporary construction as a luxury vacation home, RIBA President Stephen Hodder praised the Astley Castle restoration as “an exceptional example of how modern architecture can revive an ancient monument.”
However, this year RIBA was unable to secure a sponsor to provide the £20,000 given to winners of the past, BD Online reported. This is the first year that the Stirling Prize comes with no cash value.