1 WTC; The Port Authority and the Durst Organization
Goodbye 2012. We don't even miss you. Now, onto more pressing issues, like what cool architecture will make headlines in 2013? Yes, we foresee some big names and a starchitect or two in the mix, but there are plenty of sleeper candidates in there too. Pirated buildings? Check. Cardboard buildings? Check again. If all goes to plan, we may even see the world's tallest skyscraper be built in just in time for the launch of Breaking Bad season 5.5 (coming March 2013).
One World Trade Center
After a decade of intense debate, multiple delays, and questionable design revisions, One World Trade Center will finally peak at 1,776 feet to become the country's tallest tower. The exteriors are expected to be completed in 2013, and the structure's controversial stripped-back spire to be hoisted into place in the same time. (The building isn't schedule for to open until 2014.) When that happens, the Manhattan skyline will have been restored, so to speak, with 1 WTC serving as a visual counterbalance to the magnetic pull of the Empire State Building in Midtown. The lackluster design is almost beside the point; the real event is the tower's full realization, which is nothing short of miraculous, given the conflict of interests involved in its making.
Image: The Port Authority and the Durst Organization
Shigeru Ban's Cardboard Cathedral
Shigeru Ban's exploration of cardboard as a legitimate building material has led him to craft temporary experiments for many a good cause. For this reason, Ban has been called, among the media at least, as a "disaster relief architect", a problematic label that marginalizes Ban's considerable talents and simplifies his design principles. Yes, he has successfully applied his smart, cheap solutions to grave problems that require quick, yet sturdy assemblages. But these designs have always been thoughtful and deliberate in their making of space while also meeting more pragmatic criteria. The same goes for the architect's latest project, the "Transitional Cathedral" for Christchurch, New Zealand, which is to be constructed almost entirely of cardboard tubes. The church, which just broke ground, replaces the 1864 Christchurch Cathedral, torn down following extensive damages during a Februrary 2011 earthquake. Ban's cathedral is intended to stand for just 10 years, long enough to find a more permanent replacement, though according to the BBC, the architect hopes his design catches on with the public and is granted permanent status.
Image: Shigeru Ban
Frank Gehry's Eisenhower Memorial
One of the top controversies of 2012, the on-going feud between Frank Gehry and the National Civic Arts Society/Eisenhower family promises to get uglier in 2013. The latter continues to argue that Gehry's design, with its 80-foot-high woven metal tapestries, is insensitive to the memory of the 34th President and unfit to join the ranks of the capital's marble monuments (see this collage the NCAS put out in 2011). The group has also consistently questioned the methods by which the famed architect was chosen, saying that the decision process was "secretive" and purposefully obscured. For his part, Gehry has made modifications to his plans in response to the reservations of the NCAS and the Eisenhower family tag-team, translating reliefs depicting scenes of Eisenhower's life into sculptures and rearranging various aspects of the plan. Approval of the plan was delayed from November to 2013.
Image: Gehry Partners
BIG's Observation Tower for Phoenix
If one discounts their collaborative role in the Superkilen park in Copenhagen and their glowing ♥ pavilion for Times Square last Valentine's Day,, every one of the hundred design proposals they put out this year, BIG built very little over the last twelve months. That's set to change in 2013, it seems. Bjarke and co. just received the go-ahead for the firm's west-side "pyramid", and they've forged a promising start for a pair of "dancing" condo towers in Miami. The wacky observation tower the firm unveiled last week might actually see the light of day. The design, situated in downtown Phoenix, was commissioned as part of a building renaissance in the city, which suffered a major slump over the last several years. Because when things are looking up, why not build a giant upturned honey comb in the center of your city?
Steven Holl's Addition to the Glasgow School of Art
Where'd that come from? Steven Holl's design for a new wing to Charles Rennie Mackintosh's canonical and beloved 1909 Glasgow School of Art building incited much criticism when the plans were released in 2010. That much was expected, though the vague renderings that accompanied Holl's plans didn't help matters. The design was likened to an "iceberg", with historian William J.R. Curtis going further, calling it "monstrous". Since then, little has been heard about Holl's project, until recently, when it was announced that the building was under construction and scheduled for completion for the fall semester of 2013.
Image: Steven Holl Architects
Snøhetta's SFMoMA Expansion
Another expansion to an important building, Oslo-based firm Snøhetta's design calls for a rather large addition to Mario Botta's San Francisco Museum of Modern Art building. Rather than buddy up to Botta's relatively small original, the new wing expands vertically, rising as an immense white backdrop to the celebrated post-modern structure. In doing so, the museum will be instantly doubled and will include new public spaces such as outdoor terraces and a sculpture garden.
Image: Snøhetta; SFMoMA
Zaha Hadid Wangjing SOHO Project Cloned
Zaha Hadid, perhaps the world's most famous architect, has been cloned. Well, one of her buildings has anyway. ZHA's design for Wangjing SOHO, currently under construction, is being illegally duplicated in Chongqing. The twist? The pirates are outpacing Zaha and are scheduled to complete their counterfeit clone ahead of the original. Who will win?
If the developers behind the incredibly ambitious SkyCity project in Changsha aren't as crazy as they seem, the world's tallest skyscraper will be built in just 90 days, topping out sometime in March 2013. Broad Sustainable Building (BSB) believes it can accomplish its goal by using a modular building system that will allow workers to build at a frenzied pace of 5 stories a day, complete with fully integrated plumbing and electrical features. The system has been tested at smaller scales, as can be seen in this video showing a construction team erect a 30-story tower in just 15 days.
Image: Broad Sustainable Building
Diller Scofidio + Renfro's Broad Museum
DS+R's project for the Broad in LA's museum avenue was marked for its distinctive honeycomb facade, which proved much easier to design than actually engineer. A second iteration of the pock-marked structure, which DS+R call the "vault and the veil", were assembled this past November after it was judged that the original precast concrete screen the architects designed would be far too heavy and costly for the building to sustain. A modified glass fiber reinforced concrete version was developed and is now being fabricated. We'll have to wait and see if the end result is as poetically refined as the renderings have it.
Maracana stadium Image: Fernandes Arquitetos Associados
Rio de Janeiro World Cup 2014 Stadiums
International sporting events are an excuse for development and investments. For the upcoming World Cup, Brazil is spending some €12 billion ($15.7 billion) to ready to country for the massive spectacle. No fewer than 12 new stadiums are being constructed or revamped for the matches, including the Bird's Nest-aping Manaus stadium tucked away in the country's heartland (i.e. the rainforest) and the storied Maracana stadium, which hosted the 1950 games and which is being retrofitted by Fernandes Arquitetos Associados. With all this activity happening at the same time, it will be interesting to see if the projects adhere to their schedules. It will be dramatic, to say the least.
Manaus Stadium; Image: LOC