Eavesdrop> Dictating Taste in a Dictatorship

Architecture, Eavesdroplet, International
Thursday, November 20, 2014
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beijing-birds-nest

Beijing’s “Bird Nest” stadium by Herzog & De Meuron. (Jean Wang / Flickr)

Contemporary monarchs and world leaders have a mixed record when it comes to dictating architectural taste (see Prince Charles: wrong on classicism, right on sustainable agriculture). Even so, it seems significant that Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for an end to “weird architecture,” the kinds of formally adventurous projects China has been building at a breakneck speed for the last few decades. It’s unclear at this point if he was expressing a personal preference or if this edict will have teeth. One Bird’s Nest too many?

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Kean University announces Michael Graves School of Architecture

Exterior of Wenzhou Kean Campus. (Michael Graves via Kean University)

Exterior of Wenzhou Kean Campus. (Michael Graves via Kean University)

This Saturday, Kean University, in Union, New Jersey, will launch the Michael Graves School of Architecture in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Michael Graves Architecture & Design. Over his career, Graves has racked up an impressive list of architectural accolades including the AIA Gold Medal, the National Medal of the Arts, and the Driehaus Prize for Architecture.

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Martha Schwartz’ Hillside Mountain Range

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Fengming Mountain Park features a series of metal pavilions imagined as abstracted mountains. (Terrence Zhang)

Fengming Mountain Park features a series of metal pavilions imagined as abstracted mountains. (Terrence Zhang)

Illuminated steel pavilions mimic Chinese peaks.

The hillside site of Fengming Mountain Park, in Chongqing, China, presented Martha Schwartz Partners with both a practical challenge and a source of inspiration. Asked by Chinese developer Vanke to design a park adjacent to the sales office for a new housing development, the landscape architecture and urban planning firm quickly gravitated toward the metaphor of a mountain journey. “That’s why in the plans you see a zig zag pattern” to the path leading down to the sales center from the car park, said associate Ignacio López Busón. Steel pavilions scattered along the walkway pick up on the theme, taking the form of abstracted mountain peaks. “That’s something the client really liked,” said López Busón. “Once the idea was clear, it was all about developing the shape of them, and trying to make them look special.”
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Video> NIKE opens a motion-tracking, LED basketball court in China

The House of Mamba. (Courtesy NIKE)

The House of Mamba. (Courtesy NIKE)

Nike has covered a basketball court in Shanghai with LED sensors and the result looks like a live-action video game. The court is called the “House of Mamba”—not to be confused with the new “House of Vans” in London—and it’s topped with reactive sensors that track players’ every move.

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Scientists say Beijing will be covered in a cloud of air pollution for 16 more years

City Terrain, International
Friday, August 22, 2014
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Forbidden City in the Smog (John Chandler/Flickr)

Forbidden City in the Smog (John Chandler/Flickr)

The air in Beijing, China is dirty, and a new report suggests it won’t be getting cleaner any time soon. Beijing residents received the grim news from the Beijing Municipal Research Institute of Environmental Protection regarding the city’s air pollution levels. Following studies done by the institute, researcher Pan Tao has estimated the return of safe air pollution levels in 2030. The World Health Organization has stated in the past that the concentration of PM2.5, particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less per cubic meter, should not exceed 35 micrograms per cubic meter. In 2013, however, the level of PM2.5 in Beijing measured 89.5 micrograms per meter.

Goettsch Partners to design five towers in booming Shenzhen’s Qianhai district

Chicago's Goettsch Partners will design five towers for Shenzhen, China's Qianhai district, which Chinese authorities say will one day be the "Manhattan of the Pearl River Delta." (Goesttch Partners)

Chicago’s Goettsch Partners will design five towers for Shenzhen, China’s Qianhai district, which Chinese authorities say will one day be the “Manhattan of the Pearl River Delta.” (Goesttch Partners)

Goettsch Partners landed its largest project in China, a cluster of five towers on 15 acres in Shenzhen’s Qianhai district. China Resources Land Limited (CR Land) hired the Chicago-based Goettsch to design 5.4 million square feet of space for offices, apartments, a five-star hotel, and retail. U.K.–based Benoy is the masterplanner, and is designing a shopping mall and retail areas at the towers’ base.

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West 8 unveils plans for massive park in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon

West Kowloon Cultural District (Courtesy West 8)

West Kowloon Cultural District (Courtesy West 8)

The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) has released concept images for their waterfront park in the West Kowloon Cultural District. Once installed, the park will be a breath of fresh air (both literally and figuratively) for residents in the urban sprawl of Hong Kong, China. Read More

Chinese developer releases plans for Chicago tower that would be the city’s third tallest

Though the news is still unconfirmed by local sources, Chinese developer Wanda Group said it would soon begin construction on a 1,150-foot-tall tower in Chicago's Lakeshore East neighborhood. It would be the city's third tallest building.  (Wanda Group)

Though the news is still unconfirmed by local sources, Chinese developer Wanda Group said it would soon begin construction on a 1,150-foot-tall tower in Chicago’s Lakeshore East neighborhood. It would be the city’s third tallest building. (Wanda Group)

Chinese real estate developers Wanda Commercial Properties announced Wednesday plans to build an 89-story mixed-use tower in Chicago’s Lakeshore East neighborhood that would unseat Aon Center as the city’s third tallest building. Read More

UNStudio Completes Flower-Shaped Pavilion for Horticultural Exhibit

Aerial view of the pavilion. (Courtesy UNStudio)

Aerial view of the pavilion. (Courtesy UNStudio)

UNStudio has completed a sprawling, flower-like campus for the 2014 Horticulture Exhibit in Qingdao, China. The Theme Pavilion consists of four metallic structures that stretch out over 300,000-square-feet and resemble a Chinese rose from above. And at the human scale, the metallic, undulating structures interact with their mountainous surroundings.

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MAD Studio Begins Construction of Organically-Curving Chaoyang Park Plaza Towers

Chaoyang Park Plaza. (Courtesy MAD Studio)

Chaoyang Park Plaza. (Courtesy MAD)

Nearly two years after preliminary discussions and planning, the Chinese studio MAD has set their project “Urban Forest” into motion, breaking ground in late April. Led by renowned architect Ma Yansong, MAD architects intends to transform the city of Beijing, China by erecting eco-friendly buildings—called Chaoyang Park Plaza—in the shape of natural landscapes commonly found in Southeast Asia.

More renderings after the jump.

Designed in Chicago, Made in China: Blair Kamin, Chicago designers mull Chinese urbanization

Chinese new year flags and lanterns in Shenzhen, the poster-city for rapid urbanization in China. (Flickr / dcmaster)

Chinese new year flags and lanterns in Shenzhen, the poster-city for rapid urbanization in China. (Flickr / dcmaster)

Blair Kamin convened a panel of designers at the Chicago Architecture Foundation last Wednesday for a discussion around themes explored in his recent series “Designed in Chicago, Made in China,” in which the Chicago Tribune architecture critic assessed the effects of that country’s rapid development on urbanism and design. Read More

The Grand Macau Hotel: Zaha Hadid Behind Parametric Addition to Chinese Casino Resort

(Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects)

(Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects)

Zaha Hadid has designed another seemingly-structurally-impossible parametric building form that is set to touch down in Macau in 2017. The building, which could be equally at home in Miami or Dubai, is a large block that has been punctured by three curvaceous openings. The entire mass is encased in an exposed exoskeleton that twists and turns along the structure’s contours.

More after the jump.

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