The 600,000-square-foot project will break ground in the new city of Tianjin, China, in spring 2013.

At a December lecture at New York City's Cooper Union, Steven Holl spoke about the swiftness with which his Tianjin Ecocity Ecology and Planning Museums were designed and approved—as opposed to the 15-year gestation period for his Knut Hamsun Center in Hamarøy, Norway. He sketched the ecology museums on August 31, 2012, the designs were approved on November 2, and construction of the 600,000-square-foot project is set to begin this spring, said Holl.

The museums, which the architect said are visually dependent on each other, have complementary "additive" and "subtractive" spaces, according to a press release. They are being built on a reclaimed salt pan and polluted tide flats in a brand new city for 350,000 people, a collaboration between the goverments of Singapore and China, about a two-hour drive from Beijing. The museums are the first two cultural buildings in Tianjin, the new city.