Hans Hollein tried something new by doing something old. For nearly half a century, the prolific architect has been building around the world, though he is probably best known for the groundbreaking, and sometimes controversial, projects he completed in his native Vienna decades ago. For a recent competition entry for an office building in Shenzhen, China, the Pritzker Prize winner searched his archive of drawings, focusing on a series of sketches he did in his twenties while traveling through the United States on a Harkness Fellowship. A year spent in Chicago from 1958 to ’59 inspired him to draw skyscrapers, having had little opportunity to see them in Europe at the time. The concept sketch of a square-plan tower alternating office blocks with “sky gardens,” which Hollein did in Chicago and decided to develop for the competition, landed the 76-year-old the grand prize. The building, which will house headquarters for two state banks, will be Hollein’s first in China. It is located on a site whose master plan was originally developed by Steven Holl, and sits adjacent to Rem Koolhaas’s Stock Exchange building, currently under construction. Schematic design drawings for Hollein’s project were just approved, and construction is anticipated to begin at the end of this year. By dusting off an old sketchbook, Hollein once again finds himself at the forefront of current architecture.
August 16, 2010