Fall 2014 London

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photo credit: Lies Thru a Lens cc


The 2014 theme of Big Cities | Big Ideas is leading the COD on explorations of bold and often groundbreaking big ideas in architecture and urban design in the two most influential cities in the world. In the highly successful New York City Conference, we experienced boldly innovative new work at a multitude of scales. Journey with us now in the COD's inaugural visit to London, where these discoveries will continue in a city that is witnessing resurgence with a number of large-scale urban development projects in many areas of the city. Explore with us the new work and the forces behind them in this mega-city that makes it an international destination for culture, tourism, and business. Inside the history of this iconic city are lessons that can guide the rapidly growing cities of today.

Conference Tours are divided into major segments, focusing on the Big Ideas of specific areas of the city. The areas include West London, East London, Battersea/Vauxhall/New Covent Garden/Nine Elms, City of London and Southbank. We will open the conference with a boat tour of the city from the River Thames. Please note that the tours and the speakers are in the final planning stages and are subject to change.

Inside Central St Martins | photo credit: Matt Brown | cc

West End – King's Cross | St. Pancras Morning Session

In under a decade, London has renovated and redeveloped two key inter-connected transportation hubs: King's Cross and St. Pancras Station. The area master plan expanded two existing Victorian train stations and reconnected the urban fabric to save rich and varied heritage, expand cultural and educational uses, create a new business community, and establish a strong sense of local community. King's Cross and St. Pancras redevelopment is a mixed use development spanning over 67 acres with 50 new buildings, 2,000 residences and 10 public squares. Unique to this redevelopment is the rich architectural heritage, the renovation to the St. Pancras Station and Midland Grand Hotel (1873, George Gilbert Scott), Great Northern Hotel (1854, Lewis Cubitt), and Central St Martin's Granary building.

The tour will include large, mixed-use developments, such as King's Cross Station (John McAslan), The University of the Arts London at Central Saint Martins (Stanton Williams), 1 Pancras Square (David Chipperfield Architects) and the new Google Headquarters (AHMM). This segment also features a panel discussion at the beautifully restored St. Pancras Hotel which includes Harry Handelsman (Manhattan Loft Corporation), David Partridge (Argent), and Robert Allies (Allies & Morrison).

British Museum Great Court | Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

West End – Crossrail and other Key DestinationsAfternoon Session

As part of the many recent UK infrastructure projects, Crossrail is Europe's largest construction project. Crossrail will bring an extra 1.5 million people to within 45 minutes of central London and will link London's key employment, leisure and business districts – the new infrastructure project will improve journey times across London,  easing congestion and offering better connections, increasing capacity by 10%, supporting regeneration and cutting journey times across the city. The Crossrail route will run over 100km from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through new tunnels under central London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. Crossrail Art's Program will bring together world-class architects and designers, business-world sponsors, artistic creativity and local identity. The Art Program proposes to enable artists to create works for three discrete areas of Crossrail infrastructure: platforms and tunnels, Station concourses, and street level public realm. In total, five world-renowned London commercial art galleries are now confirmed partners for five Crossrail stations, forming a key part of the permanent line-wide exhibition across the central Crossrail stations.

Along with accessing one of the centrally-located Crossrail stations, the tour will also include the nearby London School of Economics Saw Swee Hock Student Centre (O'Donnell Toumey), Central St Giles (Renzo Piano Building Workshop ), British Museum World Conservation and Exhibition Centre (Foster + Partners/ Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners).

2012 London Olympic Stadium with The Orbit during Opening Ceremonies | photo credit: Alexander Kachkaev

Transforming East London – 2012 Olympics | Olympic Legacy Morning Session

A visit to East London will be comprised of key buildings that were showcased at the 2012 London Olympics, where the COD will be allowed exclusive access into Zaha Hadid's Aquatic Centre, Michael Hopkins & Partners' Velodrome, Stanton Williams' Hackney Marshes Centre along with the Olympic Stadium. The COD will also visit the recently re-opened Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park that will be at the heart of a new East London where diversity and cultural vibrancy meet economic growth and the city's newest and most sustainable communities. The 2012 London Olympics became the catalyst for five new neighborhoods planned as part of a larger regeneration strategy for East London.

The 2012 Olympics became the opportunity to develop a dynamic new heart for East London creating opportunities for local people and driving innovation and growth across the city and the UK. Learn how the London Legacy Development Corporation (UK's first Mayoral Development arm) is responsible for the redevelopment of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and a program  for creative and award-winning projects that will extend to 2030 and transform the lives of east Londoners.

This segment features a panel discussion at the Orbit Marketing Suite (Anish Kapoor & MAKE Architects), which includes Kathryn Thomas (London Legacy Development), Jonathan Kendall, lead master planner for the Olympic Village (Fletcher Priest) and Robert Allies, lead master planner for the London Olympics (Allies & Morrison).

Canary Wharf | © Skidmore Owings & Merrill / photo by Jason Hawkes / Image courtesy of SOM

Transforming East London – Canary Wharf Afternoon Session

Canary Wharf is a major business district located in East London and its success is unprecedented. This sustainable mixed-use urban district is now playing a key role as a City Centre for East London providing a major employment hub; international financial, commercial and business services; shopping, entertainment and community amenities. Canary Wharf contains 14,000,000 square feet of office and retail space with over a 100,000 employees. It is home to many European headquarters of major banks, professional services firms and media organizations including Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, HSBC, J.P. Morgan, KPMG, MetLife and Morgan Stanley.

As a modern transit-oriented development, over 85% of workers and residents utilize sustainable means of transport to travel to and from the estate every day. The success of the district has also been a key driver for the implementation of Crossrail, a future high-speed underground line linking major employment centers and transport hubs across Greater London.

The original master plan established over 20 building sites along the existing wharf. These parcels provided for contemporary office buildings with large trading floors; the building sites were organized around public spaces modeled after traditional London Squares, defining four distinct sub-districts within the overall estate.

Today, future expansion to the east at Wood Wharf will further enlarge and engage the Canary Wharf with the emerging surrounding area. The updated master plan extends the original vision, yet provides for the new needs of a more sustainable 21st century mixed-use urban development. Wood Wharf is a unique opportunity to create a successful new district that will strengthen and diversify Canary Wharf and create a new destination for local people including the working population of Canary Wharf, local residents, surrounding businesses as well as new employees and residents.

Battersea Power station at night | photo credit: Nicolas de Camaret - cc

Vauxhall | Nine Elms | Battersea | New Covent Garden Master Plan Morning Session

Up to 3km of the Thames riverside is being opened up to the public, creating a brand new stretch of London's Southbank. Vauxhall is being dramatically remodeled to create an attractive and pedestrian friendly environment with new and improved public spaces and better links to the river. A dynamic cluster of tall buildings will also take shape here creating an exciting new addition to the central London skyline. An entirely new town center will be built around a redeveloped Battersea Power Station, New Covent Garden Market will be revitalized and new US Embassy will open in 2017. More than £1billion is being spent on new infrastructure including two new Tube stations and the creation of a new linear park sweeping right through the district from east to west.

In March 2012, the Mayor adopted a planning framework for the Vauxhall / Nine Elms / Battersea Opportunity (VNEB) Area with the potential to accommodate 25,000 new jobs and 22,000 new homes. Its location in the city's Central Activities Zone, straddling the boundaries of the boroughs of Lambeth and Wandsworth, presents a unique set of challenges. The planning framework includes its rich industrial heritage and sets out current issues relating to the public realm, connectivity and legibility, along with identifying the two-station extension of the Northern line.

Today, more tower cranes reside in Vauxhall / Nine Elms / Battersea area than anywhere in London. Architects Wilkinson Eyre, Foster + Partners, Allies & Morrison, AHMM, Kieran Timberlake, KPF, Rafael Viñoly Architects, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Gehry Partners and SOM are working to turn this ambitious multi-developer site into a model master plan for London.

The tour will tour the marketing suites of the residential-led master plan, the US Embassy and the historic Battersea Power Station. This segment also features a panel discussion at Battersea that will include the Battersea Power Station Development Company, Dan Ringelstein (SOM), Sebastien Ricard (Wilkinson Eyre), and Robert Allies (Allies & Morrison).

A portion of the conference schedule is being held open for Wednesday afternoon to allow conference attendees to explore areas of London or nearby towns of their choosing.  To allow attendees to further maximize this opportunity, no conference events or gatherings are planned for Wednesday evening.

Lloyd's and the Willis Building | photo credit: Herry Lawford - cc

City of London All Day

The City of London is the financial center and key part of London's rich history. The City is also referred to as the Square Mile, as it is 1.12 mile in area. The City is not characterized by any particular architectural style having accumulated its buildings over 2,000 years, however few structures predate the Great Fire of 1666. The history of tall structures in London began in 1098 with the completion of the 90-foot White Tower, a part of the Tower of London. Sir Christopher Wren rebuilt St Paul's Cathedral in 1710 and strict regulations were put in place to preserve the protected views, especially those of St. Paul's Cathedral and the Tower of London.

The City started to embrace tall buildings at the end of the 20th Century and in less than 20 years the Square Mile has some of the most recognized highrises in the world. Richard Seifert, Richard Rogers, KPF, Sir Norman Foster, Rafael Viñoly Architects, Rem Koolhaas and SOM  have all built towers within the City.

The tour will visit landmark towers that explore new concepts in designing vertically that include 30 St. Mary Axe (Foster + Partners), 122 Leadenhall (Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners), 20 Fenchurch (Raphael Viñoly Architects), Broadgate Tower (SOM) along with visiting legacy projects such as Lloyds of London (Richard Rogers Partnership) and Exchange House (SOM); historical churches of Wren and Hawksmoor and Roman ruins. This segment features a lunchtime discussion with Peter Rees, who served as Chief Planning Officer for the City of London for 29 years prior to joining The Bartlett School of Architecture University College London in April, 2014.

The Southbank with St. Mary's Axe and the Tower Bridge | photo by MattJP | cc

The Southbank All Day

Located on the southern bank of the Thames, the Southbank forms a long and narrow section of riverside development along the pedestrian embankment of the Queen's Walk. The Southbank developed much more slowly than north bank of the Thames  due to adverse conditions. Throughout its history it has twice functioned as an entertainment district, separated by a hundred years of use as a location for industry. In 1951, the Festival of Britain redefined the area as a place for arts and entertainment and during the build up to the millennium the Thames waterfront had a significant resurgence. The Millennium Bridge (Sir Anthony Caro/Foster + Partners), became the first bridge built over the Thames in more than a century. As a major cultural investment, the Tate Modern (Herzog & de Meuron) and London Eye (Marks Barfield) helped reshape the Southbank as a key London destination. In addition, the completion of the GLA Headquarters and More London (Foster + Partners) helped to expand the business district of London.

Today, the Shard (Renzo Piano Workshop) not only dominates the Southbank at 310 meters but it is London's first mixed use tower and Europe's tallest building. At the base of the Shard is London Bridge Station, the fourth busiest station in the UK, bringing around 50 million passengers into the city each year. Our tour will walk along the Southbank and visit many of these world class developments, stretching from Tower Bridge in the east to Westminster Bridge in the west.