Architecture People & Places


RIBA Gold Medal to Peter Zumthor

Peter Zumthor designed the crisp modern Kolumba Art Museum (2007), which incorporates the remnants of the late-gothic St. Columba church. Photo: © farbanalyse

Swiss architect Peter Zumthor has been named the recipient of the 2013 Royal Gold Medal for architecture by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The 69-year-old architect, whose work is not well-known outside the architectural community, has received recent professional acclaim for his body of work, including the 2009 Pritzker Prize.

The 2013 RIBA Gold Medal Prize will be awarded to Swiss architect Peter Zumthor. Photo: Gary Ebner
Shortly after he was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 2009, ArchitectureWeek contributing editor Michael Crosbie summarized Zumthor and his work.
"There is little doubt that Zumthor has become in some sense a "starchitect" — the term attached to those major architects who command media acclaim — yet his following is limited mostly to the academy. 
"Among those who know of Zumthor, he is hailed for just a handful of buildings.
"Perhaps his most celebrated is the Therme Vals spa (1996), in his native Switzerland — a congeries of cavelike spaces rendered in steam, shadow, and watery reflections.

SANAA • New Canaan, Connecticut

SANAA has designed The River, a glass-and-steel community building in New Canaan, Connecticut.  Image: SANAA
"The River" will be a new spiritual and community center building, in New Canaan, Connecticut, designed by Japanese firm SANAA for the Grace Farms Foundation. The firm's designs for the sinuous building were recently submitted to the local planning and zoning commission for review.

The building is designed as a continuous sequence of glazed pavilions connected by covered breezeways all unified by a single, curvaceous roof that winds around the one-acre (0.4-hectare) building site on the 75-acre (30.4-hectare) grounds of Grace Farms. Near one end, the River contains a space that will serve as the sanctuary for Grace Community Church. Other spaces will accommodate a range of community center functions, including a library, dining room, gymnasium, and spaces for children.
Overview of the sanctuary space of The River. Image: SANAA

Europe's Ten Tallest Buildings • London, Moscow

The Mercury City tower, in Moscow, Russia, has nearly topped out. Photo: Courtesy Liedel Investments Limited
As Moscow's Mercury City skyscraper approaches its topping out point, with construction completion expected in late 2012, it is worth reflecting on the building's place among the skyscrapers of Europe. At 339 meters (1,110 feet) tall, this new tower will be the tallest on the continent upon its completion, edging out The Shard, a recently completed building in London, a 310-meter (1,020-foot) building that currently holds the position.

The 70-story Mercury City tower is a reinforced-concrete-frame structure with a copper-tinted curtain wall glazing system. The tower's plan narrows as it rises, and a series of vertical and diagonal bevels give the building its distinctive asymmetrical form.

26 high-speed elevators by ThyssenKrupp provide Mercury City's primary vertical conveyance.
  • Height: 339 meters (1,110 feet)
  • Stories: 70 (plus 5 floors underground)
  • Area: 180,160 square meters (1,939,200 square feet)
  • Architect:  Frank Williams & Partners Architects with M.M. Posokhin
  • Developer: Mercury Development Company/ LLC RASEN STROY
  • Year Completed: estimated late 2012
Of the five tallest buildings in Europe, four are in Moscow. The Shard, by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, is the only building outside of Moscow in the top five. And a fifth Moscovite building rounds out the European top ten.

To put these buildings into another kind of perspective, the Mercury City tower is less than half the height of the Burj Khalifa which, at 828 meters (2,717 feet), is currently the tallest building in the world. Upon its completion, Mercury City will likely rank 37 or 38 in a listing of the world's tallest buildings.

Photo: Courtesy Baron Phillips Associates

2. The Shard, London, England

  • Height: 310 meters (1,020 feet)
  • Stories: 95
  • Area: 111,000 square meters (1.2 Million square feet) 
  • Architect: Renzo Piano with Adamson Associates
  • Builder: Mace
  • Owner: Sellar Property Group
  • Developer: Sellar Property Group 
  • Year Completed: 2012

Benthem Crouwel Architects • Amsterdam, the Netherlands

The "bathtub" addition to the Stedelijk Museum, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, has been completed. Photo: John Lewis Marshall
The recently completed Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands opens to the public on September 23. Amsterdam-based Benthem Crouwel Architects designed the project, including the renovation of the museum's 1895 brick building, and the new addition, nicknamed "The Bathtub" for its form and sleek white facade, currently being assembled.

The addition essentially consists of a large canopy extending out about 40 meters (130 feet) at the roof level of the existing building, with a smooth white volume descending from the roof that narrows as it nears the glazed ground-floor base. Galleries, a new auditorium, and various other spaces are divided between this volume and an underground portion of the addition, while the transparent ground-level volume houses the museum shop and restaurant and the new entrance to the facility.
The museum addition abuts the existing historic museum building. Photo: John Lewis Marshall

Allen Jack + Cottier • Sydney, Australia

Allen Jack+Cottier (AJ+C) designed the Indoor Sports Stadium on Milson Island, near Sydney, Australia. Photo: Nic Bailey/ Courtesy Allen Jack+Cottier

Allen Jack+Cottier (AJ+C) adopted an imaginative approach to materials, structure, and form when designing the Indoor Sports Stadium, located in rural New South Wales, on Milson Island in the Hawkesbury River, north of Sydney, Australia.

The project brief was to design a multi-purpose recreation hall for use by young children at camp. The firm undertook careful study of local conditions which resulted in a curving, lightweight building that seems to float over the landscape of its extraordinary natural site.

The form of the building is an overt and direct expression of thermodynamic analysis. Smooth airflow required a clean, crisp interior skin and the natural thermal ventilation patterns influence the building’s wing shape. A combination of twelve wind turbines and a series of floor mounted louvres ensure the building remains cool in Sydney's fierce summer heat, and when closed in winter, act as an insulation blanket.
The main hall of the Indoor Sports Stadium. Photo: Nic Bailey/ Courtesy Allen Jack+Cottier
The building’s shape was inspired by the traditional Arnhem Land canoe. These canoes were made from a single piece of bark, stripped from a Stringybark tree, seasoned over a fire and shaped by branches.  Upturned and propped off the ground, the canoe, in its frugality, demonstrated the essence of shelter.

AIA Educational Facility Awards • Dallas, Seattle, Atlanta, Santa Fe...

The LEED Platinum-certified Portland Community College Newberg Center, in Newberg, Oregon, was designed by Eddy Architects, Inc.
Four buildings received top marks in this year's Educational Facility Design Awards from the AIA Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE), while 11 other projects were also recognized in the program's two lesser tiers.

The fifteen projects, all of which are located in the United States, range from a LEED Platinum-certified community college building, in Newberg, Oregon, to a mix of primary and secondary school projects in Bellevue, Washington; Snohomish, Washington; and Joplin, Missouri; and also include several special schools focused on either the arts and sciences.

And in the case of one project, a Beaux Arts-style swimming pool was converted into a 282-seat music performance space.
The Ardmore Elementary School, in Bellevue, Washington was designed by NAC|Architecture.
The two-story Ardmore Elementary School is organized around multiple internal courtyards and relies heavily on glazing to connect parts of the building with each other and with the surrounding landscape. A notion of non-linear learning is embodied in the variety of meandering paths available throughout the building, gradually revealing different spaces, those close and those far away.

ENOTA • Nova Gorica, Slovenia

The Stamboldžioski Dental Studio, in Nova Gorica, Slovenia, designed by ENOTA. Photo: Courtesy ENOTA
Stamboldžioski Dental Studio is located at the outskirts of Nova Gorica, Slovenia, in a residential community featuring mostly single-family homes. It has been built as a replacement for the cramped surgery in the dentist's private house, which was set up on the ground floor. It is therefore an annex, whose floor area exceeds that of the house it has been attached to. 

Due to the required floor area of the annex, which is more than double the size of the existing building, a relationship with the natural landscape was sought. The building is built on a slope, which allows its greater part to be set into the earth. This reduces its presence in the space despite the somewhat expressive appearance, which follows the building's function. 

CZWG Architects • London

Rendering of Rathbone Market, designed by CZWG Architects, an east-London development whose second phase recently received planning permission. Image: Courtesy CZWG Architects
English Cities Fund, a joint venture between Muse Developments, Legal and General Property, and the Homes and Communities Agency, and developer of Canning Town's Rathbone Market scheme, has secured a detailed planning consent to take the development into its second phase.

Rathbone Market's redevelopment already had outline planning consent which fixed the masterplanning parameters.

Phase two will comprise two new public squares, one of which will form the attractive new open market square - the centerpiece of the finished Rathbone Market scheme and will also feature purpose built facilities for the market traders. This phase will also see the delivery of 165 new homes - 42 of which are affordable, a brand new 10,000-square-foot  (929-square-meter) public library and community centre and 12,000 square feet (1,100 square meters) of ground floor retail space.

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