29 October 2009
A set of red steps cum ticket booth in New York’s landmark Times Square, and its Australian-led architect design team, have taken out the major International Award at the 2009 Australian Institute of Architects National Architecture Awards.
The Australian Institute of Architects’ Jorn Utzon Award for International Architecture was tonight presented to the TKTS Booth and Environs in New York’s Times Square by Sydney firm Choi Ropiha,* with Perkins Eastman and PKSB from a strong field of projects across the globe. All projects entered must be submitted by architecture practices who are members of the Australian Institute of Architects.
Announcing the award in Melbourne tonight, jury chair Howard Tanner said: “The jury especially liked the vibrant character, logical public meeting place, and practical sales point offered by this competition-winning design solution. The ‘red steps’ are a new and potent symbol of New York”.
The jury noted that the booth project began 10 years ago with an international design competition to re-design the popular and iconic TKTS booth, which had served New York’s main theatre district at the centre of Times Square for many years. Describing the project, Choi Ropiha said that while the brief simply requested a new booth, the team’s design expanded the booth's function to that of a public gathering point and viewing platform for Times Square.
TKTS Booth and Environs
Architect: Choi Ropiha with Perkins Eastman and PKSB. Photographer: John Saeyong Ra
The design featured two parts – strikingly translucent red steps that terrace upwards and invite the public onboard for a new perspective of Times Square; and the booth itself, which is neatly tucked beneath.
With references to the “red carpet” of Broadway, the red steps give the booth a memorable and fitting presence in Times Square, strengthening the position of TKTS as a New York cultural institution.
An Architecture Award for International Architecture was also presented to a large scale project in the United Arab Emirates - the Qatar Science and Technology Park by Sydney firm Woods Bagot Stadium. The jury commented on “the strong structural/sculptural qualities of this major development, and the contrast provided by the abstract filigree canopies and screens, which provide a suitable reference to Arabian culture”.
In entering the award, Woods Bagot described the master plan as encompassing 123 hectares of land. Phase one construction comprised 115,000 square metres – incorporating the site’s 12,000 sq metre administrative hub and business centre, and two 20,000 sq metre laboratory information transfer centre buildings. They noted the importance in Islamic architecture of focusing on the interior space as opposed to the exterior, and said the buildings were generally enveloped by double skin-facades that responded to the climate of the area. The internal highly elaborate atriums were equivalent to the inner life of a traditional courtyard.
The jury said: “The linked buildings provide a vast complex for new initiatives in Qatar. In their scale, resolution and architectural interest, in particular the contrasting of robust metal-clad frames and building modules with delicate floating canopies and screens, they have achieved an entity which is futuristic, but with an accessible reference to the traditions of the place.”
Around 20 projects from as far afield as Singapore, Latvia, the United Arab Emirates, New York, Malaysia, the Solomon Islands and New Zealand were entered in this year’s International Award.
* Choi Ropiha is a young, innovative Sydney-based architecture practice with a growing international reputation. Founded by design architects John Choi and Tai Ropiha, the office’s team of eight staff work on a diverse range of urban design, commercial, residential and public projects. Other recently completed projects include work at the newly opened and much lauded Ballast Point on Sydney Harbour. For more information, log on to www.choiropiha.com
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