Gunnar Birkerts, Latvian-born architect and educator, passed away on August 15, 2017, at the age of 92. A passionate advocate of a creative process he called "organic synthesis," he leaves behind dozens of built works over three continents and influenced hundreds of architectural students and colleagues through his inquiry-based process and dynamic interactions. Eric Hill and John Gallagher, in their AIA Guide to Detroit, said of Birkerts’ architecture:
Each of his works seems to be approached as an opportunity to explore the essence of an architectural problem, resulting in a statement that often exceeds the immediate project.
Gunārs Birkerts, the prolific Latvian-American architect best known for designing the "Castle of Light"—the world's largest library in Riga, Latvia—has died aged 92. The National Library, which was first conceived in 1988 and officially opened in 2014, has become among the most significant, and controversial, contemporary public buildings in Latvia.
https://www.archdaily.com/877790/gunars-gunnars-birkerts-architect-of-the-worlds-largest-library-riga-latvia-dies-aged-92AD Editorial Team
PLH Arkitekter has been announced as one of two winners in the international design competition for Rail Baltica, organized by The European Railroad Lines, Ltd. As a part of the European transport network, Rail Baltica will be a multi-modal public transport hub in the Latvian capital of Riga, with a railway bridge crossing the Daugava River.
The focal point of the project will be a train station building “that creates a strong visual identity in the cityscape, strengthening the sense of Riga as a metropolis.” Inspired by the archetypal form of the arch and the Art Nouveau period, the building will feature canopies that resemble arched fern leaves. On the north side of the building, the canopy shape allows for a unique view over the historic city, ideal for travelers entering or leaving the city to create a strong sense of place.
The Riga Exhibition Centre is one of the largest in the northern region of Eastern Europe. The Expo Centre is situated in Kipsala, also known as Kip Island, which is located at the heart of the Latvian capital. The Exhibition Centre currently houses two large exhibition halls, conference rooms and smaller meeting rooms, and has recently announced plans to further expand its facilities.
Adjaye Associates, working with local firm AB3D, envisioned the museum as a social incubator, a welcoming and porous space where people could be brought together through a variety of formal and spontaneous interactions. The jury found that the proposal’s distinctive silhouette would give the museum a strong presence within its context of planned commercial and residential developments, and that is orientation and materiality showed a keen awareness of the vernacular and cultural contexts.
The design proposals of seven shortlisted finalists for the Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art Design Competition have been released by the competition’s organizer, Malcolm Reading Consultants. Located in the capital city of Riga, the funding for the €30 million project is a public private partnership with support from from the ABLV Charitable Foundation and the Boris and Ināra Teterev Foundation, which co-founded the Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art Foundation. The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia and the Museum’s Foundation signed a memorandum of intent regarding the museum and building on 30 October 2014. The competition, organized in 2015 with 25 first-stage participants, will announce a jury-selected winner in mid-June.
U-R-A | United Riga Architects and Evgeni Leonov have won the competition to renovate Alberta Square in Riga, Latvia. The design combines the historical heritage of the site as the location of the first ancient Latvian settlements in Riga with the cultural heritage of Riga Black Balsam, a drink created by medieval pharmacist Abraham Kunce, who lived around the corner from the site.
Adjaye, Henning Larsen, and wHY are among seven practices shortlisted in an invited design competition to design the Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art (LMoCA). The new museum, planned for the center of Riga, Latvia, hopes to become "the most visited art museum in the Baltic States, as well as a cultural arts center of interregional significance." It's collection will feature regional art and visual culture from the 1960s.
For an article featured in Blueprint Herbert Wright examines Riga's new National Library of Latvia, completed by 89-year-old Gunārs Birkerts this month. Located in one of Latvia's most historic urban settings, the library - locally known as the "Castle of Light" - challenges the city's recent history of Soviet public architecture with a contemporary, if not as equally monumental, cultural edifice. Initially conceived in 1988 now, over twenty five years later, the structure stands as a €163million testament to Latvia's rich academic and public cultural heritage. Earlier this year, "14,000 Latvians formed a 2km human chain to pass books from the old to new libraries." Wright's exploration of this seminal building on Birkert's œuvre is complemented by Janis Dripe's excellent photographic studies of what is certain to be one of the most important Eastern European buildings of this decade.
Designed by NRJA + IG Kurbads, their ‘Show Under Skin’ proposal for the reconstruction of the new Riga Theatre corresponds to the dynamism of the creative process within the theater - minimalist, smooth finish, combined with a twisted in a motion stopped volume.The skin is a multi-functional covering structure which is connected with the historical volume, covering it and combining various features and space dimensions in a single organic volume, also matching different adjacent building heights. More images and architects’ description after the break.
The aim of the proposal for the University of Latvia Academic Center of Natural Sciences by Sestais Stils Architects is to create a comfortable, functional and sustainable environment for studies and work. They wanted a space for students and other interested persons to research and acquire contemporary knowledge and technologies. They also wanted to create a unit of urban structure where all functions necessary for optimal study and research process are provided at one place but at the same time the structure interacts with ‘outside world’ as well. More images and architects’ description after the break.