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

FX Fowle designs world’s largest spanning arch bridge for—where else— Dubai
July 17, 2008, 1:22 pm
Filed under: Middle East, Urban Design

So this is where their money comes from.

Rather than crossing the water in a single span, FXFOWLE created two separate arches that converge on an artificial island. While the entire bridge is one mile long, its east span will be 1,246 feet in length, while the west span will stretch 2,000 feet, making it 200 feet longer than the current record holder for world’s longest spanning arch bridge: China’s Chaotianmen Bridge, completed this year. Its main arch spans 1,811 feet. FXFOWLE is working with the structural engineering firm Parson Transportation on the project.

Visually, the Dubai bridge will frame an opera house—a project recently awarded to Zaha Hadid—on a neighboring island while providing multi-modal access to it. “If we had created a single span, the height of the deck would have obstructed views of the future opera house,” explains Sudhir Jambhekar, FAIA, senior partner at FXFOWLE.

FXFOWLE Designs Worlds Largest Spanning Arch Bridge for Dubai | Architectural Record.

FX Fowle bridge Dubai

Green Power Player
July 10, 2008, 3:41 pm
Filed under: Green, Middle East

Marc Gunther of GreenBiz considers who might be the most powerful green player in the world:

The most powerful of all might turn out to be someone whose name you probably don’t know: Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber.

Al-Jaber is chief executive of the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (ADFEC), which was created by the government of Abu Dhabi to lead the Masdar Initiative. You’ve probably heard about the new city of Masdar, which is being designed and built as a zero-emissions, zero-waste, automobile-free city in Abu Dhabi. I wrote a column about Masdar city in March.

But there’s a lot more going on at Masdar than the new city, as I learned when I had a chance to sit down with Sultan—that’s his first name (he isn’t a sultan), and that’s how he wanted me to address him, so I will do so here. .

Sultan was in Washington this week to testify before Congress about clean energy, met with Masdar partners and generally spread the word about the $15 billion—yes, billion—initiative, which is moving along at a brisk clip.

Here’s what he said about Masdar City before a congressional committee:

For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population now lives in cities, with their traditional energy inefficiencies, waste and pollution. We must fundamentally re-think how cities can conserve energy and other resources. We must heavily employ new technologies and even create new urban models, as we are doing in Masdar City.