On Top of the City: Behind the Scenes at the Leadenhall Building

View of The Leadenhall Building from the East along Leadenhall Street . Image © Richard Bryant – Courtesy of British Land/Oxford Properties

Settled comfortably around a black conference table – the only item of furniture in an office space still lacking its carpet tiles – on the 40th floor of the new Leadenhall Building, I had the opportunity to discuss with lead designer Graham Stirk and his partner, practice co-founder Richard Rogers, the forces that shaped their new building and how they came to be working in the City of London once again.

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners has a rich presence in the Square Mile, including the landmark Lloyd’s of London, standing directly opposite the Leadenhall Building. The firm has specialised in assured, sometimes assertive insertions within the City’s fine, historic urban grain, and so setting aside the sheer bravura of the 52-story, 225 meter skyscraper, with its sloping glass façade to the south (giving it the popular nickname of the Cheesegrater) the first question that arose was a simple one – how did the building come about?

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VIDEO: Time-Lapse Through FR-EE’s Museo Soumaya

German photographer Yannick Wegner has shared with us his latest time-lapse exploration through the Museo Soumaya. Designed by FR-EE / Fernando Romero Enterprise, the 150-foot structure has become iconic in Mexico City’s Polanco district due to its sculptural physique and scale-like skin of 16,000 mirrored steel hexagonal tiles.

Stills of the museum, after the break…

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Five Buildings Compete to be Named “World’s Best Highrise”

Bosco Verticale, Milan / Boeri Studio. Image © Kirsten Bucher

Rem Koolhaas, Steven Holl, Jean Nouvel and Boeri Studio are the masters behind five competing to be crowned the “World’s best.” Chosen as finalists for the 2014 International Award (IHA), the four practices are in the running for a prestigious title and €50,000 prize.

Award organizers from the City of Frankfurt/Main, Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) and DekaBank at Frankfurt’s Paulskirche will announce a winner in mid-November. The chosen skyscraper will be selected by an esteemed, multidisciplinary jury based on the criteria ranging from future-oriented design and innovative building technology, to the building’s integrative urban development scheme and cost-effectiveness.

“Good architecture requires a willingness to take risks and a desire to try things out. All the finalists took this approach – there can be no innovation without experimentation. Our shortlist comprises three different prototypes of the future,” commented Jury Chairman Christoph Ingenhoven.

View all five of the competing highrises and the jury’s comments, after the break… 

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Exclusive Video: Innovation Center UC – Anacleto Angelini / Alejandro Aravena | ELEMENTAL

Chile is recognized internationally for the quality of its architecture, even though its most lauded projects are not often found in urban areas. At a time when the true potential of Chilean architecture seems absent from the South American country’s cities, Alejandro Aravena | ELEMENTAL has designed a conceptually – and physically – dense project in Santiago.

In this ArchDaily exclusive video, ELEMENTAL‘s director Alejandro Aravena explains the concepts that shaped the form and delineated the design process of the Pontifical Catholic University’s Innovation Center UC – Anacelto Angelini. Instead of using materials that are usually associated with technology and innovation, such as glass and steel, Aravena uses and its hermetic, weighty properties to imbue the center with an air of timelessness and transcendence.

Bernard Tschumi On His Education, Work and Writings

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In this extended interview between Bernard Tschumi and The Architectural Review’s Paul Finch, the pre-eminent Swiss-born architect discusses his education, writing, design and wider critical position. Speaking candidly, Tschumi explains how a visit to Chicago when he was seventeen years old sparked a life-long passion for architectural design - something that had been somewhat repressed due to his father who was, at that time, one of the world’s most highly respected architects. His friendship with British architect and theorist Cedric Price led to the start of a career that saw his proposals for Paris’s Parc de la Villette foreshadow the age of Deconstructivism. Ending with his take on the future of the profession, Tschumi also offers advice to students and young practices looking to make their mark.

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AR Issues: Who Needs Architecture Critics?

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ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine’s monthly editions. In this post, we take you back to AR’s June 2014 issue, which examines the state of architectural criticism in our age of online media and ever-present PR. Here, AR Editor Catherine Slessor argues that “more than ever, architecture is in need of provocative, engaging and entertaining critics.”

Ambrose Bierce, the great 19th-century satirist and author of the The Devil’s Dictionary, once defined a critic as ‘a person who boasts himself hard to please because nobody tries to please him’. Critics occupy a curiously parasitical position in the modern cultural milieu, and an architecture critic perhaps especially so. But in an age when architects can easily find obliging PR minions to dispense their gospel and biddable publishers to churn out infinite, anodyne oeuvres complètes, who still needs critics and criticism?

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4 Visions Released for D.C.’s First Elevated Park

© OLIN /

OMA, Höweler + Yoon, NEXT Architects, and Cooper, Robertson & Partners are amongst four interdisciplinary teams competing to design Washington D.C.’s first elevated public park. As part of a six month nationwide competition, the shortlisted teams have just released their preliminary design proposals for what will be known as the 11th Street Bridge Park.

Suspended over the Anacostia River, the multi-use park aims to re-connect two disparate city districts and re-engage residents with the riverfront by offering a 21st century civic “playscape.” Education and performance spaces, as well as a cafe and water sport areas will all be included in the masterplan.

A preview of the four shortlisted schemes, after the break…

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CTBUH Announces Five Finalists in its Student Competition

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The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has announced five finalists in their 2014 Student Design Competition, which asked entrants to respond to the theme of ”sustainable verticle urbanism” in order to “shed new light on the meaning and value of tall buildings in modern society.”

“There has been a major transition in the sense of the value of the tall building and what it can contribute to the urban realm, and society in general,” said former Competition Jury Chair William Pedersen of Kohn Pedersen Fox. “This transition moves the tall building away from just an instrument of financial exploitation and toward a development highly concerned with its impact on the city, the environment, and the urban habitat.”

The winner of the competition will be announced at a special judging session as part of the CTBUH’s 2014 Shanghai Conference which begins on Tuesday. Read on after the break for all the finalists.

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VIDEO: Bjarke Ingels on “Promiscuous Hybrids” and “Worldcraft”

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Referring to his work as “promiscuous hybrids,” Bjarke Ingels details his vision of “worldcraft” where architecture harnesses the desires, knowledge and technology of its people to transform surreal dreams into reality.

How to Design Elevated Cycling Structures that Actually Work

London’s proposed SkyCycle. Image Courtesy of

There’s no doubt about it – cycling in cities is a big deal these days. But, while cycle lanes and bike-sharing schemes are all well and good for our cities, the cycling revolution hasn’t yet brought us many examples of beautifully designed infrastructure to gawp at. This article, originally printed on The Dirt as “Do Elevated Cycletracks Solve Problems or Just Create More?” discusses two seemingly similar examples of high profile cycling infrastructure, examining why one is a success and the other a non-starter.

This year, two designs – one proposed and one built – for elevated cycletracks, which create bicycle highways above street level, have gained considerable media attention. They highlight questions at the heart of urban design: Should cities blend or separate transportation options? How can cities best mitigate the hazards created when cars, bikes, mass transit, and pedestrians mix? How can cities create low-cost transportation networks in increasingly dense urban cores?

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Five Proposals Unveiled for Presidio Parklands in San Francisco

The Observation Post / CMG Landscape Architecture. Image © CMG Landscape Architecture Courtesy of Trust

Last week, the five teams competing for the Presidio Parkland project in San Francisco unveiled their proposals in a public meeting at the project site. The parkland, made possible by the replacement of an elevated highway by a new tunnel, will command stunning views of the San Francisco bay, including views of the Golden Gate bridge.

“This is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to create and design new parklands,” Executive Director of the Presidio Trust Craig said. “We are extremely pleased with the caliber of the work of the five design teams and look forward to hearing the public’s feedback on these early concepts.”

Competing for the prestigious project are James Corner Field Operations, OLIN with Olson Kundig ArchitectsSnøhetta with Hood Design StudioWest 8, and CMG Landscape Architecture. A winner will be announced in January.

Read on after the break to see all five proposals

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Al Jazeera’s Rebel Architecture: Episode 4, “Greening the City”

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“Green architecture helps people live harmoniously with nature and elevates human life by embracing the powers of the sun, wind and water into living space. If the current way of thinking does not change, sooner or later citizens will actually live in jungles,” Vo Trong Nghia says in this week’s episode of Al Jazeera’s Rebel Architecture series. An award-winning Vietnamese architect, Nghia is known for his sustainable and green designs as well as his work with bamboo. In this 25-minute episode, we follow Nghia on his mission to transform Vietnam’s attitude towards architecture and green spaces through his “Vertical Farming City,” and catch a glimpse of his project to implement low-cost housing solutions for Vietnam’s poorest communities in Mekong Delta.

Watch the full episode above and read on after the break for a full episode synopsis and a preview of upcoming episodes…

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How Did Filippo Brunelleschi Construct the World’s Largest Masonry Dome?

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More than 500 years after it was built, Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy, remains the largest masonry dome ever built. Leaving no plans or sketches behind, some of the secrets of its construction that pioneered are still an enigma today. This short animation, presented by National Geographic and created by Fernando Baptista and Matthew Twombly, gives an idea of how the dome of the Duomo might have been built. Demonstrating the complexity of the task, made harder due to poor construction prior to ’s commission, this serves as a reminder of just how long it can take to create something timeless.

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ArchDaily’s Most Useful Articles of All Time

As summer draws to an end and we enter into the last quarter of 2014, we decided to round-up a selection of the most useful we’ve published over the past three years. Ranging from The 40 Architecture Documentaries to Watch in 2014 to The 10 Most Overlooked Women in Architectural History, we’ve also brought together app guides, career tips, and city guides. Alongside links to open-source files and cut-out people, we’ve also featured book recommendations, study tips, and links to our complete coverage of some of the world’s major architectural events and prizes. Delve into our collection and discover what our readers have found most useful!

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Architect Lord Richard Rogers and the Making Of Scandicci City

Scandicci City began as a suburb of Florence and was often described as a commuter town with a lack of a clear urban center. Having reached out to Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners to address this need, this short documentary created by scandiccibyrogers.com offers a look inside Rogers’ studio in London and the creation of a new urban master plan for Scandicci City.

In it, Rogers explains his belief that public places are crucial parts of cities, and discusses how urban areas can begin to develop from a dense core – an urban design strategy that responds to the rising popularity of city living in recent years, and utilizes public transportation rather than relying on cars.

Interview: Ma Yansong on “Silhouette Shanshui” at the Venice Biennale

MAD Architects‘ “Silhouette Shanshui” – which lies somewhere between an installation and a model – is currently on display at the 14th Venice Biennale. The inspiration for the project is the firm’s Nanjing Zendai Himalayas Center, a master plan with an overall area of 560,000 sqm that challenges how modern development is typically thought of in China. According to Ma Yansong, the founder of MAD Architects, the city-scale urban project is already underway with 13 towers under construction.

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From Friends to Frasier: 13 Famous TV Shows Rendered in Plan

Floorplan of the apartments from “Friends”. Image © Iñaki Aliste Lizarralde

Have you ever wanted to see the apartments and houses of your favorite TV shows brought to life? To go on a virtual walk-through of Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment? Or see the layout of the Simpson’s house in Springfield? Four years ago Spanish interior designer Iñaki Aliste Lizarralde had the same desire, and so he set out to create a floorplan for one of his favorite TV shows, Frasier.  Following interest from his friends for floorplans of their favorite shows, Aliste began to make renderings for them as well. Now, the designer has created floorplans for over 20 shows and movies, ranging from the apartments in Friends to the house in UP!. “Many people have told me that thanks to my drawings, they recall the good times spent with the series or movie…. Even people not used to technical layouts are able to understand my drawings and dive into them,” he said.

Enjoy the full interview with Iñaki as well as images of some of his favorite floorplans after the break…

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Video: JS Dorton Arena, the Fairground Pavilion That Was a Modernist Marvel

The JS Dorton Arena, originally designed as a livestock judging pavilion for the North Carolina fairgrounds, was a deliberate political statement for the North Carolina State University about the courage of progress and value of taking risks. The architect, Matthew Nowicki, imagined a symphonic spatial experience where design, material and construction are choreographed in a highly challenging and sweeping, ambitious vision. Foregoing interior columns, the building combines intersecting parabolic arches of reinforced concrete with a grid of draped tension cables inspired by the tension system of the Golden Gate Bridge to support the entire span of the roof – the first of its kind.

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