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The Future of Architecture Visualization: An Interview with Morean Digital Realities and Zaha Hadid Architects

Above: The final presentation video for Zaha Hadid Architects' Danjiang Bridge entry, with construction sequences provided by morean digital realities and atmospheric shots provided by Studio MIR

In this age of lightning fast response rate, it is more important than ever for architects to be able to provide clients with a clear idea of what is to be built. Luckily for us, there are firms out there that specialize in aiding that process. Take morean digital realities, for example, a visualization firm that works in conjunction with architects to create renderings and animations that help explain how a project will work. These visualizations can be geared toward clients, competitions or used as material for fundraising. Their recent work includes a video for the Danjiang Bridge Competition, in which morean provided a dramatic construction animation accompanied by atmospheric shots by another visualization company, Studio MIR. Together, these two visualization studios helped Zaha Hadid Architects come away with the project commission.

ArchDaily spoke to three members of the team on that project - Saman Saffarian, a Lead Designer at Zaha Hadid Architects; Karl Humpf, Director of International Bridges at Leonhardt, Andrä und Partner; and Gonzalo Portabella, Architect and Managing Director at morean digital realities - about the role of visualization within architecture and where the field may be headed.

Can Anyone Win in Architecture Criticism? An Appeal for a "New Sincerity"

In the mid-1980s, after literature had long been held hostage by postmodernist irony and cynicism, a new wave of authors called for an end to negativity, promoting a "new sincerity" for fiction. Gaining momentum into the 1990s, the movement reached a pinnacle in 1993 when, in his essay E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction, pop-culture seer David Foster Wallace, a proponent of this "new sincerity," made the following call to action: “The next real literary ‘rebels’ in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti-rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall actually to endorse and instantiate single-entendre principles... These anti-rebels would be outdated, of course, before they even started. Dead on the page. Too sincere. Clearly repressed. Backward, quaint, naive, anachronistic. Maybe that’ll be the point. Maybe that’s why they’ll be the next real rebels. Real rebels, as far as I can see, risk disapproval. The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism. Today’s risks are different. The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the ‘Oh how banal.'"

Architecture, ever in debt to the styles and ideas of other art forms, could learn a thing or two now from the resuscitation of American fiction at the turn of the millennium. It too is enduring an identity crisis, mired by pessimism and uncertainty - a reality made painfully clear this past January when a New York Times Op-Ed by Steven Bingler and Martin C. Pedersen, How to Rebuild Architecture, divided camps and made the design world fume. In the editorial, the authors spoke vehemently of an architectural profession that has become mired by egos and been disconnected from public needs. Things quickly got ugly, critics wrestled with critics and subsequently the public got involved. What no one seemed to take into account is that this type of hounding is at the core of the problem. In its current landscape the discipline has struggled with its past, been deferential to its present, and wrestled with the uncertainty of its future. In a moment when we have become addicted to despondency, can anyone win?

A Parametric Devotion: Patrik Schumacher Discusses "Architecture and Freedom" at the Royal Academy

For its fall season of architecture events, the Royal Academy’s working theme is “Architecture and Freedom: a changing connection,” in a program conceived and organized by Architecture Programme Curator, Owen Hopkins. One of these events was a recent lecture by Patrik Schumacher, Director of Zaha Hadid Architects, and ardent promoter of Parametricism. In his lecture, what starts out with a brief exercise in damage control over the barrage of criticism recently endured by the firm, emerges as an impassioned discussion of architectural politics, design philosophies, and social imperatives.

Zaha Hadid's Investcorp Building Honored with Oxford Preservation Trust Award

Since 1957, the Middle East Center at St. Antony's College has been the University of Oxford's facility for research and teaching on the Arab world, Iran, Israel and Turkey. Over the years, the center's world-class archive has grown exponentially, leading to the commission of Zaha Hadid Architects to expand its facility; the recently completed Investcorp Building doubled the center's library and archive space, while delicately integrating a new 117-seat lecture theater into the college's restricted site. 

Honoring its success and "vital role" in the community, the Investcorp Building has been selected as a winner in the Oxford Preservation Trust Awards' New Building category - now in its 38th year. 

Spotlight: Zaha Hadid

Pritzker prize-winning architect, fashion designer and artist Zaha Hadid (born 31 October 1950) has become one of the most recognizable faces of our field. Revered and denounced with equal aplomb for the sensuous curved forms for which she has become known, Hadid rose to prominence not solely through parametricism but by designing spaces to occupy geometries in new ways. Today, her work continues to push boundaries both creative and technological, and her fearless media presence has cemented her place in society as a woman who needs just one name: Zaha.

Ground Control: How Concrete Reshapes Our Relationship to the Earth

Concrete has long had a close relationship with the earth; as the favorite material for the creation of building foundations, one of its most common uses is effectively as a more reliable replacement for soil. In the twentieth century, concrete’s ability to transform our interaction with the ground was taken to the next step. As architects and engineers explored the opportunities offered by a combination of reinforced concrete and the modernist mindset, multiple attempts were made to replace the ground in a more dramatic way: by creating a new ground, separated from the earth itself. Most widespread among these plans was the engineer’s elevated highway which emerged worldwide, and the most relevant to architects the “streets in the sky” embodied by developments such as the Smithsons’ Robin Hood Gardens. Newcastle-upon-Tyne offers a city-wide example of this theory, embarking on an ambitious plan to become the “Brasilia of the North” by creating an elevated network of pedestrian routes entirely separated from the automobiles below - though the project was abandoned in the 1970s with only small sections implemented.

After Modernism’s dramatic fall from grace in the 1970s and 80s, this project to reinterpret the ground with concrete was largely forgotten. Of course architects still used concrete in their designs, but they were content with a purely traditional relationship to the ground: their buildings were discrete entities which sat upon the earth, and nothing more. However, as explored at length in Stan Allen and Marc McQuade’s 2011 book Landform Building: Architecture's New Terrain, recent years have shown architects willing to work upon the ground once again, in new and exciting ways. In the years since Landform Building’s publication, this trend has only intensified, as demonstrated by the following three projects.

Santa María de los Caballeros Chapel / MGP Arquitectura y Urbanismo. Image © Andrés Valbuena Heydar Aliyev Center / Zaha Hadid Architects. Image © Hélène Binet Mulini Beach / Studio 3LHD. Image © Joao Morgado Santa María de los Caballeros Chapel / MGP Arquitectura y Urbanismo. Image © Andrés Valbuena

Critics Take On "The State of the Art of Architecture" in Chicago

An image from Iwan Baan's Chicago photo essay. Image © Iwan Baan
An image from Iwan Baan's Chicago photo essay. Image © Iwan Baan

Last week, the Chicago Architecture Biennial opened to over 31,000 visitors and much fanfare, and for good reason - it is the largest architecture event on the continent since the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, featuring over one hundred exhibitors from over thirty countries. With a theme as ambiguous as "The State of the Art of Architecture," and with the hope of making the biennial, according to directors Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda, "a space for debate, dialog and the production of new ideas," the event was sure to generate equally wide-ranging opinions. Read on to find out what the critics had to say about the Biennial.

Zaha Hadid Releases New Image of New York Condominium Project Near High Line

Just as the luxury condominium high rise opens for sales, Zaha Hadid Architects and Related Companies have released a new image of 520 West 28th - Zaha Hadid's first residential building in New York. Planned for a prime location in West Chelsea, alongside the High Line and nearby Renzo Piano's newly-opened Whitney Museum and Diller Scofidio + Renfro's future Culture Shed, the 11-story development is offering 39 distinct residences, some reaching up to 6,391-square-feet. 

“I’ve always been fascinated by the High Line and its possibilities for the city. Decades ago, I used to visit the galleries in the area and consider how to build along the route. It's very exciting to be building there now,” said Zaha Hadid. “The design engages with the city while concepts of fluid spatial flow create a dynamic new living environment.”

Zaha Hadid Designs Office Tower with World's Tallest Atrium

Zaha Hadid Architects has proposed an office tower in Beijing that is said to have the "world's tallest atrium." As the Architects' Journal reports, the Leeza SOHO project features a 200-meter-high atrium that extends the building's full height, visually splitting the cylindrical structure in two. If built, it will be anchored by an underground promenade that connects to a subway station below and public park to the west. 

Zaha Hadid's Wangjing SOHO Wins Emporis Skyscraper Award

Wangjing SOHO; Beijing, China / Zaha Hadid Architects. Image © Feng Chang
Wangjing SOHO; Beijing, China / Zaha Hadid Architects. Image © Feng Chang

Zaha Hadid ArchitectsWangjing SOHO in Beijing has won the 2014 Emporis Skyscraper Award. Chosen by an international panel of experts from more than 300 skyscrapers, the three-tower 200-meter-tall development is the first skyscraper in China to ever win the award. The judges were impressed by its "excellent energy efficiency and its distinctive design, which gives the complex a harmonious and organic momentum."

Each year, the Emporis Award honors the world's best new building over 100-meters-tall. Read on to see the top 10 buildings honored this year.

Gallery: A Sneak Peek at Zaha Hadid's Dominion Tower in Moscow

Photographer Laurian Ghinitoiu has shared with us this sneak peek of Zaha Hadid Architects' latest completed work, the Dominion Tower in Moscow. Led by Project Director Christos Passas, the building's eight rectilinear stories are each staggered and cantilevered over the one below and feature ribbon windows with a trademark Zaha Hadid twist, while the interior features a dramatic top-lit atrium criss-crossed by stairs. Read on to see Ghinitoiu's full photo set.

Alternative Realities: 7 Radical Buildings That Could-Have-Been

In It’s A Wonderful Life the film’s protagonist George Bailey, facing a crisis of faith, is visited by his guardian angel, and shown an alternate reality where he doesn’t exist. The experience gives meaning to George’s life, showing him his own importance to others. With the increasing scale of design competitions these days, architectural “could-have-beens” are piling up in record numbers, and just as George Bailey's sense of self was restored by seeing his alternate reality, hypothesizing about alternative outcomes in architecture is a chance to reflect on our current architectural moment.

Today marks the one-year-anniversary of the opening of Phase 3 of the High Line. While New Yorkers and urbanists the world over have lauded the success of this industrial-utility-turned-urban-oasis, the park and the slew of other urban improvements it has inspired almost happened very differently. Although we have come to know and love the High Line of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and James Corner Field Operations, in the original ideas competition four finalists were chosen and the alternatives show stark contrasts in how things might have shaped up.

On this key date for one of the most crucial designs of this generation, we decided to look back at some of the most important competitions of the last century to see how things might have been different.

Joseph Marzella's second-place design for the Sydney Opera House. Image via The Daily Mail Designs for the Chicago Tribune Tower by Adolf Loos (left) and Bruno Taut, Walter Gunther, and Kurz Schutz (right). Image via Design for the High Line by Zaha Hadid Architects with Balmori Associates, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and studio MDA. Image via University of Adelaide on Cargo Collective Moshe Safdie's design for the Centre Pompidou. Image Courtesy of Safdie Architects

Zaha Hadid Backs Down From Second Tokyo Olympic Stadium Bid

Just two weeks after the Japan Sport Council launched a second call for New National Stadium proposals, Zaha Hadid Architects and partner Nikken Sekkei have withdrawn from the competition. Although the duo promised to develop a "cost-effective" design that strictly adhered to the new competition's scaled down brief, they were unable to secure a contractor and therefore were forced to step down from the competition. 

"It is disappointing that the two years of work and investment in the existing design for a new National Stadium for Japan cannot be further developed to meet the new brief through the new design competition," said ZHA in a press release.  

5 Top Firms Respond: What Do You Look for in Job Applications?

Often, all that is needed for that big break in your career is getting experience at the right firm. But getting your foot in the door is daunting, especially if your ideal firm is one where thousands of other architects are applying constantly, regardless of whether a vacancy has been advertised. In this article originally posted on The Architect's Guide, Brandon Hubbard reaches out to some of the world's top architecture firms (Zaha Hadid Architects, Snøhetta, Perkins+Will, BDP and Callison) to find out how you can maximize your chances in the application process.

I recently reached out to several of the world’s top architecture firms and asked them a series of questions on what they look for in potential architecture job applicants.

After my discussions with these firms I discovered a common theme in how they acquire many new hires. As I covered in a previous article, Want a Great Architecture Job? Don't Send a Resume, many new employees are found through personal references and word of mouth.  Developing these relationships within the architecture community is essential for a successful career.

The questions are structured to cover the various steps of the architecture job application process, from the first point of contact to the interview.

Zaha Hadid Architects Release Video Presentation and Report on New National Stadium in Tokyo

Update: On September 1st, the Japan Sport Council launched a new competition to find another design for Japan’s New National Stadium - this time for a design and build project with more stringent cost restrictions. Today, contractor Nikken Sekkei and Zaha Hadid Architects have confirmed that they will be re-entering the contest together, bringing forward work from their original design. “Our firm is certain that retaining the team of Design Supervisor and designers will deliver the best National Stadium, and we have invited Zaha Hadid Architects to join the design team” said Nikken Sekkei in a statement. “Applying this knowledge and experience of the project, this team can further develop the design to the new brief as a cost-effective proposal to realize the world’s best National Stadium.” The article below was originally published on August 26th.

In mid-July, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe declared that ZHA's design for a New National stadium would not be completed and that plans for the Tokyo Olympics-Paralympics stadium would "start from zero." In response Zaha Hadid Architects has just issued a press release and a link to a 23-minute video presentation. The video, ZHA explains, "outline[s] in detail the unique design for the New National Stadium which has been developed over two years to be the most compact and efficient stadium for this very special location in Tokyo. Zaha Hadid Architects welcomes a new contractor bidding process for the New National Stadium to reduce costs and ensure value for money in terms of quality, durability and long-term sustainability."

Watch the video - or if you haven't got 23 minutes, read our synopsis - after the break.

© Zaha Hadid Architects. Image by Methanoia © Zaha Hadid Architects. Image by Methanoia © Zaha Hadid Architects. Image by Methanoia © Zaha Hadid Architects. Image by Methanoia

Construction Begins on Zaha Hadid's One Thousand Museum in Miami

Following the ground breaking last December, construction has begun on Zaha Hadid’s One Thousand Museum in Miami, with 9,500 cubic yards of concrete already poured. Designed in association with the local architect of record, O’Donnell Dannwolf Partners Architects, the residential skyscraper will rise 62 stories, comprising half- and full-floor residences, duplex townhomes, and a single duplex penthouse, overlooking Museum Park and Biscayne Bay at 1000 Biscayne Boulevard. As a burgeoning area, Museum Park—once called Bicentennial Park—is home to the Peréz Art Museum Miami and will soon be home to the Frost Museum of Science.

Some Thoughts on Zaha Hadid Architects' Campaign to Win Back the Tokyo Stadium Commission

Zaha Hadid Architects are no longer the architects of the New National Stadium, Tokyo's headline venue for the 2020 Olympic Games. You probably already knew - ZHA have been making quite a fuss about it, with a 1,400-word statement released last month and a 23-minute video released yesterday, both arguing that scrapping their design is a bad idea.

Clearly, brevity is not one of ZHA's strong suits, so for those who don't have 30-plus minutes to chew their way through both video and statement, the basics are as follows: the official reason given by the Japanese government for scrapping the stadium has been the rising costs of the design. ZHA have countered this complaint by saying that the rising costs are not a result of their design but of an uncompetitive tender process for the construction, and of skyrocketing construction prices across the whole of Tokyo. They add that by starting the project from scratch, Japan risks overshooting their 2020 deadline for the Olympic venue.

An extra complication is added by the widespread public dislike of the stadium's design, scale and location - most notably coming in the form of a petition led by Fumihiko Maki and Toyo Ito - which has caused some to speculate that Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is secretly bowing to political pressure. In response, ZHA's video emphasized the features of the design which were either required by the brief or an attempt to respond to the context, in an attempt to absolve themselves from blame.

However, with the decision to start anew now over a month old, the question remains: will ZHA's attempts to win back the project be enough? More importantly, should this campaign be taken seriously?

© Zaha Hadid Architects. Image by Methanoia © Zaha Hadid Architects. Image by Methanoia © Zaha Hadid Architects. Image by Methanoia © Zaha Hadid Architects. Image by Methanoia

Zaha Hadid Unveils High Line Installation

With the construction of their High Line-adjacent residential building 520 West 28th Street, Zaha Hadid Architects have constructed a temporary construction shelter to protect pedestrians in the event of any falling construction materials. However, as is often the case with Zaha Hadid designs, this is a construction shelter unlike any other, serving as a protective shelter but also as an artistic installation.

Named Allongé, the installation is "is inspired by the connectivity and dynamism of movement along the High Line," allowing visitors to the High Line to move through 34 meters (112 feet) of sweeping metallic fabric supported by a curvilinear steel frame, offering a spatial experience that foreshadows the presence of Hadid's building at the site.