Albert Speer Jr helped design the master plan for Beijing Olympics
August 8, 2008, 6:02 pm
Filed under: Asia, Urban Design
Albert Speer Jr

Albert Speer Jr

"Bird's Nest" National Stadium, Herzog de Meuron

"Bird's Nest" National Stadium, Herzog de Meuron

Albert Speer Jr, an architect and urban planner like his father, helped design the master plan for Beijing’s Olympics. He was tasked with laying out the plan for access to the Olympics complex, focusing on the construction of an imposing avenue, which connects the Forbidden City and the National Stadium, aka Bird’s Nest.

From The Guardian and The Times of London.


“only an idiot would have said no”
July 30, 2008, 3:10 pm
Filed under: Architecture, Asia, Politics

Jacques Herzog on choosing to build in China:

Only an idiot — and not a person who thinks in moral terms would have turned down this opportunity — would have said no. I know that there are architects who now claim that they would never have even considered building in China. This is both a naïve and arrogant position, one that reflects a lack of knowledge of and respect for the incredible cultural achievements this country has continuously provided over the last 5,000 years and still provides today.

Future of the Bird’s Nest
July 30, 2008, 8:47 am
Filed under: Architecture, Asia, Urban Design

From China Daily:

After the Games, the stadium will be redeveloped to include hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and shopping malls, he said.

The reconstruction will cost at least 300 million yuan and after it, commercial buildings will cover about 35 percent of the entire compound.

Wonder what Herzog de Meuron thinks about this. . . .

Starchitects city building
July 30, 2008, 7:16 am
Filed under: Asia, Europe, Middle East, Urban Design
Zaha Hadid's master plan for the Kartal area of Istanbul, with the Sea of Marmara visible at the top.

Zaha Hadid's master plan for the Kartal area of Istanbul, with the Sea of Marmara visible at the top.

From the Wall Street Journal:

“We are seeing an emergence of a new industry,” says Dennis Frenchman, director of the city design and development program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s urban-studies department. “It’s not real-estate development; it’s not architecture; it’s not city planning. All I can do is name it ‘the city-building industry.’ “

And a name-brand architect can make the product sellable. “It’s just like teapots,” he says.

[. . .]

Name-brand master plans are “an entrepreneurial tool” that are key to getting these large projects built, says Reinier de Graaf, an OMA partner working with Mr. Koolhaas on the Riga and Waterfront City projects. Urban planning is now “a very weird mixture of marketing and urbanism,” he says.

Mr. Chipperfield agrees. “It’s easier to know about architects than architecture,” he says. “A banker won’t know about architecture but will know that ‘Zaha Hadid’ or ‘Rem Koolhaas’ is a brand.”

Roll call:

  • Zaha Hadid: Kartal, a suburb on the Asia side of Istanbul – groundbreaking in 2009
  • Zaha Hadid: 60 hectares of a peninsula in the river in Bilbao; the Zorrozaurre plan will turn the land into an island, with angled buildings for housing and offices following the curve of the river – currently being developed
  • Rem Koolhaas/OMA: Waterfront City, artificial island in Dubai — landworks started, decades to completion
  • Rem Koolhaas/OMA: Riga’s port, 100-acre site — 2006 plan
  • Daniel Libeskind: Orestad, a five-kilometer-long urban area south of Copenhagen – to be completed around 2016
  • Daniel Libeskind: Fiera Milano, 43 hectares of Milan’s old fairgrounds – to be completed in 2014
  • David Chipperfield: new art and technology quarter in Segovia — won competition in March 200

Beijing cleans up its act for the Olympics
July 23, 2008, 7:52 pm
Filed under: Asia, Urban Design
Workers in Beijing carry plants to the waterfront next to the Bird's Nest.

Workers in Beijing carry plants to the waterfront next to the Bird's Nest.

And its people and streets and pets and food and pirated DVDs….

  • Price: $43,000,000,000 (US)
  • When no-smoking ban went into effect for Beijing restaurants: May 2008
  • Dog meat removed from all menus: May 2008
  • Flowers ordered: 40,000,000 pots
  • Size of forest created next to Olympic Stadiums to improve air quality: 2x Central Park, NYC
  • Number of Beijing taxi drivers who have undergone a special English training program: 90,000
  • Participants on online etiquette training course: 17,000,000
  • Residents moved to make way for Olympic-related projects: 1,500,000

From “Beijing goes to extremes for its Olympic face-lift,” Los Angeles Times.

North Korea’s “Hotel of Doom”
July 21, 2008, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Architecture, Asia, Politics

Once dubbed by Esquire magazine as “the worst building in the history of mankind,” the 105-story Ryugyong Hotel is back under construction after a 16-year lull in the capital of one of the world’s most reclusive and destitute countries.

From Mao to Wow
July 16, 2008, 3:36 pm
Filed under: Architecture, Asia

Online from Vanity Fair.