WAN AWARDS hosted two passionate jury sessions to decide upon a pair of shortlists for the commercial sector in the world’s largest architectural awards programme; one unbuilt, the other completed. This category celebrates and promotes the best in international architecture for commercial use, be it offices, retail, hotels and tourism resorts to name a few.
Singling out the best commercial completed projects we had the pleasure of Earle Arney, Chief Executive of ARNEY FENDER KATSALIDIS; Jacqueline Beckingham, Director and Design Leader at Benoy and Stephen Pey, Associate Director at EPR Architects.
Judging the Commercial Award future projects we held a separate jury in LA. The session was moderated by WAN US Correspondent, Katerina Hojgrova, and generously hosted by the AIA LA where we had a fantastic line up including Mehrdad Yazdani, Director of the Yazdani Studio at Cannon Design, Ross Wimer, Head of AECOM’s national architecture and interiors practice and Jose Esteves De Matos, Director of De Matos Ryan who was judging remotely.
With a serious spread of projects on the table spanning from all parts of the world this was indeed going to be a challenging category to judge for both panels. First to be reviewed were the completed project entries and the panel were very impressed by the standard of the projects put forward.
First to take a place on the shortlist was Vestas North American Corporate Headquarters by Ankrom Moisan Architects. Transforming a once vacant building into a vibrant hub for business the judges were impressed with the connectedness and visibility through the centre of the building encouraging collaboration and communication among employees. Jacqueline Beckingham appreciated the design starting off the good comments with “I think it’s an interesting reuse of the space”. Earle Arney also thought this project was worthy of the shortlist mentioning “The bones of the building are cool and the choices of materials are great”.
Venture Capital Office Headquarters by Paul Murdoch Architects was swiftly added to the shortlist for its simplicity and effectiveness. Wood, steel and concrete finishes are used to express both the firm’s sophistication and to create a warm, understated office environment. As the sustainably designed headquarters of a venture firm, the building needs to temporarily house and incubate young companies who can grow quickly. To adapt readily to changing needs, the building interior can be reconfigured using a modular system of demountable partitions and building services that are separately programmed and controlled wirelessly. Earle Arney was the first to appreciate the detailing of this project commenting “There is great care in how this building has been put together, it’s quite a handsome timber structure”. Stephen Pey added to this saying “This is quite simple and quite elegant”.
Next selected was H&P Architects with their project Cheering Restaurant. Inspired by the daily life of the Hanoi people H&P Architects wanted to create a beautiful space that recalls the ancient trees. On the three-dimensional network divided by 4, the "timbers" were stacked perpendicularly to each other and gradually spreading upwards in order to create "tree roots" for separating spaces and to make a children’s playground above. This project received much praise from all the jury especially Jacqueline Beckingham who put forward a range of wonderful comments including “I think this is really clever, playful and fun and I like how they have used the existing structure”.
TransGrid Headquarters by Bates Smart was very well received by the jury and also selected for the shortlist. This winning competition design has responded to challenging site restrictions and a rapidly evolving urban context to deliver a worthy addition to Sydney’s fast-emerging architectural precinct of Haymarket. This project was considered ‘pretty amazing’ by the jury panel and great comments were made by all including Earle Arney who said “That’s a yes from me, what a great project”, Stephen Pey added to this commenting “Really well presented work too.”
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners were selected for the shortlist with their project 8 Chifley. The scheme – developed with Lippmann Partnership – comprises of a 30-storey tower situated in the Central Business District (CBD) of Sydney. Creating a variety of individual workspace environments which allow privacy and interaction between people, and the judges thought this project was certainly a high contender within the award. Stephen Pey commented “The execution of this project is impeccable and you couldn’t not include this in the shortlist.”
Finally the last project to be selected for the completed sub-category shortlist was the Pearl Izumi North American Corporate Headquarters by Arch11 Inc. Burrowing into the landscape, the building’s intuitive angles and triplicate clerestories, representing Pearl Izumi’s “Ride-Tri-Run” motto, reflect the sharp Flatirons, and bring daylight and natural ventilation far into the workspace year-round, while providing unobstructed views to the outdoors. There was no doubt across the board that this was going to make the shortlist as the judges were all taken with this project. Jacqueline Beckingham commented “I think this is beautiful, what a great place to work”, and Earle Arney adding “This is very clear and very strong, definitely on the shortlist”.
The Future projects were now to be decided upon and the first to make the shortlist was 3 Hudson Boulevard by FXFOWLE. Sited along the new Hudson Boulevard Park, the tower is uniquely positioned as an anchor to the emerging Hudson Yards District and the revitalisation of Manhattan’s West Side. The tower’s lithe and tapered form pivots from alignment with the urban grid to capture optimal solar orientation allows for an array of photovoltaic sunscreens for the tower’s all glass façade to generate in excess of over 800,000 kWh per year in power. Ross Wimer commented on this saying “I think the solution that these guys have come up with is formally elegant.”
Next to be selected on the shortlist was 1700 M Street by Gensler. Located in Washington DC this office building has been designed around a new workplace culture seeking flexibility, performance, wellness, community and reducing carbon impact. The use of solid wood demonstrates a dedication to ecological stewardship while providing a level of quality and craft unique in the commercial marketplace. All the judges were impressed with this project and Jose Esteves De Matos commented “This is a very elegant office building pushing the boundary in timber technology providing a distinctive presence to the urban street scape.”
bFarchitecture were also selected for the shortlist with their project Baltic Thermal Pool Park. This rectangular shaped building with the use of concrete mixed with wood submerges itself into the natural environment and reinforces the contrast between the building and nature. Its ying and yang composition provide terraces on the city-side and on the beach-side and all roofs are accessible and provide sport facilities such as tennis courts, beach volleyball, promenades and views. Mehrdad Yazdani really appreciated the simplicity, restraint and complexity of this project and added “I like the idea of interjecting the water elements in relation to the occupied spaces, it has a great indoor outdoor quality to it.”
Also selected for the shortlist was Xintang Riverside Shopping Arcade, Hangzhou by Dennis Lau & Ng Chun Man Architects & Engineers. Inspired by the lotus flower this project shows the organic, but consistent ellipsoid forms of the canopies, combined with the curved green roofs can mimic the flower’s natural form and growth. A commercial network is built by linking a series of interesting spaces such as subway lobbies, underground shopping malls, commercial tunnels, riverside squares and commercial pedestrianized streets. The judges really liked the links created within this project with Ross Wimer commenting “What’s interesting for me is that they have created some quality spaces and provide a different type of shopping experience than you normally get in china”.
Joel Sanders Architect’s were selected for the shortlist with their project Kunshan Phoenix Cultural Mall. Currently in construction this project responds to the challenges posed by the client’s brief: the creation of a sustainable pedestrian-friendly mixed-use building type—a “Cultural Mall” that allows culture and commerce, shoppers, creative artists and office workers, to mix in ways that enhance both Phoenix’s corporate identity and Kunshan’s public realm. The jury were very impressed with this project and Jose Esteves De Matos commented “The premise for this project and the attempt to merge the various elements of the programme brief, set this project apart from other 'mall' shopping projects in China. This project delivers a positive response pushing the boundary of this mixed use typology.”
And last but not least, the final project to be selected for the shortlist was the The Noble Quran Oasis by Gerber Architekten. The new museum for the Quran, located in the holy city of Al Madinah al Munawarah, makes a contrast to the barren volcanic landscape with its verdant centre – like a modern oasis. Embedded in a Wadi, the design exploits the topography of this dried-up stream and allows it to be re-experienced as a newly-formed oasis. There was no question that this project was going to be selected in the shortlist with comments from Mehrdad Yazdani “This is great, they are really engaging with the landscape” and Ross Wimer adding “The approach for this project is pretty exciting.”
We would like to say a big thank you to all that participated in the WAN Commercial Award in both the Future and Completed sub-categories, and congratulations to the selected shortlists. Look out for the winner announcements on 24 March!
Senior Awards Co-ordinator
3 Hudson Boulevard by FXFOWLE
8 Chifley by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners © Brett Boardman
1700 M Street by Gensler
Baltic Thermal Pool Park by bFarchitecture
Cheering Restaurant by H&P Architects
Kunshan Phoenix Cultural Mall by Joel Sanders Architect
Pearl Izumi North American Corporate Headquarters by Arch11 Inc © Raul J. Garcia
The Noble Quran Oasis by Gerber Architekten
TransGrid Headquarters by Bates Smart © Brett Boardman
Venture Capital Office Headquarters by Paul Murdoch Architects © Eric Staudenmaier
Vestas North American Corporate Headquarters by Ankrom Moisan Architects © Jeremy Bitterman
Xintang Riverside Shopping Arcade, Hangzhou by Dennis Lau & Ng Chun Man Architects & Engineers