Ole Scheeren: A Beijing Essay 

The German Architect Reflects on the Shapeshifting Metropolis He Calls Home

“This city is strong, robust, self-assured,” says Ole Scheeren of Beijing, where he has lived and worked since the early 2000's, when he came to oversee the construction of the iconic Chinese Central Television (CCTV) Headquarters as Director and Partner of Rem Koolhaas' Dutch firm, OMA. “Even though it has transformed dramatically, it has never lost touch with itself entirely.” When it first appeared, the striking, cantilevered structure was emblematic of a new direction in Beijing architecture, and the the acclaimed architect spent a recent Sunday meandering through the city’s streets, lending his voice to this lucid portrait of the building by filmmaker Montague Fendt. Scheeren broke out on his own in 2010 as the Principal of Büro Ole Scheeren, further developing his standing in Asia by designing the Angkasa Raya, a 268-meter tall landmark building in Kuala Lumpur, and Duo, a large-scale urban development in Singapore. “It is forever vibrant and exciting,” says Scheeren of Beijing’s literal and figurative rise. “Yet fundamentally and unabashedly unglamorous.”

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    China Now

    Crystallizing the Creative Harmony at the Heart of China's Urban Explosion

    “Everyone is trying to find that new Chinese voice,” muses architect Lyndon Neri in this meditative documentary by director Thomas Rhazi. China Now spotlights the fertile state of creativity in the world’s most populous country, through interviews with luminaries of Chinese art, publishing and architecture. Neri appears with his wife and professional partner, Rosanna Hu, alongside Jérôme Sans, co-founder of Beijing consultancy Perfect Crossovers and former Director of the city’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, and Shaway Yeh, the Group Style Editorial Director of Modern Media Group whose flagship title, Modern Weekly, boasts a wider circulation than the Chinese edition of Vogue. Shot in Shanghai and Beijing, the smoggy skies and steel-and-glass skyscrapers articulate the enormous scale and rapid pace of China’s development, yet the architecture picked out here offers a sanctuary amidst the confusion. For Neri & Hu’s award-winning boutique hotel The Waterhouse, the architects embrace the public nature of traditional Shanghai lane houses, while collective living is a feature of the Ai Weiwei-designed Caochangdi village in Beijing, where a thriving hub of artists live and work alongside farmers and migrant workers. Yet despite the country’s budding energy and certain creative freedoms, China itself is unknowable for the artist, according to Yeh. “It’s a place that’s still in flux,” she says during today’s short. “It’s constantly reshaping.”

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    Most Shared in Design

    Richard Meier x Massimo Vignelli

    On the Edge of Modernism With the Master Architect and the Genius Designer

    Illustrious modernist Richard Meier and multi-disciplinary creator Massimo Vignelli reflect on their respective crafts, city life, and enduring friendship in this mesmeric film by Johnnie Shand Kydd. Shot at the minimalist offices of Richard Meier & Partners on 10th Avenue and West 36th Street, the two powerhouses discuss their collaboration on the firm’s forthcoming monograph, Richard Meier, Architect Volume 6, chronicling the stark, white, rationalist buildings that define the firm’s aesthetic. The Pritzker Prize laureate's most notable projects include the Getty Center in L.A., the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, and more recently, the two glass-and-steel towers on Perry Street in New York’s West Village that Martha Stewart, Ian Schrager, Calvin Klein, and Nicole Kidman have all called home. Vignelli, too, has left a significant mark on Manhattan, having famously designed the New York subway map and signage, in addition to working on everything from packaging and furniture design to corporate identities for clients like BMW, Barney’s, Xerox and American Airlines. “Architects need to have a certain arrogance, a sense of self-belief,” posits Shand Kydd. “A designer, however, has to be more collaborative. Consequently, Meier and Vignelli have very different natures, but like all very talented people, they both look forward and not back.” Here Meier nonetheless looks to his present city, and beyond, to reveal his select few architectural necessities.


    Favorite buildings around the world:
    Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp
    Le Thoronet Abbey in Provence
    Ryōan-ji in Kyoto
    Fatehpur Sikri in Agra
    The Guggenheim Museum in New York City

    Favorite spaces in New York:
    The plaza at the Seagram Building
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art
    Central Park
    The Guggenheim Museum
    My apartment

    Things every architect should own:
    A good supply of General’s Draughting Pencils
    A Keuffel & Esser ruler
    A 9 - 8 1/2 ft long work table
    A white shirt and a black suit
    A black Porsche 911

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