Breaking Ground: The Architectural Projects Beginning Construction

Groundbreaking ceremonies mark the moment where a project finally begins to move from concept to reality. We look at some of the most notable projects from around the globe to begin construction in the past few months

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

Los Angeles, USA

Architects: MAD Architects

March saw the ground breaking on one of the most anticipated architectural projects in recent times: Star Wars creator George Lucas’ museum. Described by MAD as a “futuristic spaceship” that has “landed” on the site, it will house a 10,000-strong collection of paintings, illustrations and film memorabilia, leading Lucas to describe it as an “anthropological museum” as well as an art museum. “My feeling that popular art is an insight into a society and what they aspire to, what they really want, what they really are — it is about telling the narrative of their story, their history and their belief system,” said Lucas at the groundbreaking ceremony. “I believe all kinds of art have a right to exist. I think it’s important to have a museum that, I used to jokingly say, supports all the orphan arts that nobody wants to see but everybody loves.” Located in Los Angeles’ Exposition Park and covering 11 acres, the museum is scheduled for completion in 2021.

Image courtesy of MAD Architects

Lyon Part-Dieu

Lyon, France

Architects: MVRDV, SUD

A massive overhaul of Europe’s largest downtown shopping centre has begun, bringing an update to the tired façade of the 1975-built structure and an extensive reorganisation of the building’s interior. The restructuring will integrate the shopping centre into neighbouring streets, while a public roof garden adds greenery and public space to the building. The green approach continues with the building’s façade, which will feature glass sections with a depolluting coating. MVRDV’s innovative design has also resulted in an additional 32,000 square metres being added to the centre’s commercial and public space. “With Lyon Part-Dieu, we draw this facade with big pixels which we hope will give a more human scale not just to the mall, but to the whole site,” said Winy Maas, co-founder of MVRDV. “In 2020, Lyon Part-Dieu will be both a place for everyday life and shopping, but also culture and relaxation in a reinvented setting.”

Image courtesy of Kréaction

Rubenstein Commons

Princeton, USA

Architects: Steven Holl Architects

March 14 saw the groundbreaking ceremony take place for Princeton Institute of Advanced Study’s $20m new campus building, selected to coincide with the birthday of former Institute member Albert Einstein. The realisation of a competition-winning design by Holl, the building will house social and office spaces alongside a display of the Institute’s history, and is designed with a “welcoming and flexible environment for interaction”, according to Holl. “The Rubenstein Commons building underscores the importance and relevance of the Institute’s unique, independent, and cross-disciplinary environment for scholars,” added Robbert Dijkgraaf, director and Leon Levy professor, at the ceremony. “This building will provide scholars with new opportunities to question fearlessly, collaborate, discover and create new lines of inquiry and knowledge that change our understanding of the world.”

Image courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

Terrace House

Vancouver, Canada

Architects: Shigeru Ban Architects

Back in February construction began on what will become North America’s tallest hybrid timber structure. Featuring a stepped concrete base and rising to a 45-degree angle for the top nine floors, the residential building has a strong sustainable focus due to its materials and greenery. “Terrace House is the pinnacle of modern development and will stand out among some of the greatest residential buildings in the world,” said Macario Reyes, founder and CEO of PortLiving. “Shigeru Ban and his team’s attention to detail are unparalleled and have ensured that each of these homes is truly unique to any other in Vancouver.  To further enhance the ownership experience, residents will enjoy a dedicated concierge team, and a plethora of amenities ensuring a best in class lifestyle.” Completion is set for 2020.

Image courtesy of Shigeru Ban Architects

Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge

Washington DC, USA

Architects: AECOM

February also saw the commencement of the largest construction project ever to be undertaken in Washington DC: the replacement Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. Costing $441m, it will be constructed alongside its predecessor before being opened in 2021, and is designed to carry both cars and pedestrian traffic. “The Douglass Bridge not only connects residents in wards 7 and 8 to the city’s other six wards, but commuters and revenue-producing tourists as well. The importance of the bridge as the connective tissue to the region is clear,” said District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser. “The Frederick Douglass Bridge is not only the largest construction project in our history, it is the workhorse crossing that holds our city and our region together, and is a gateway to our economy.”

Image courtesy of the District Department of Transportation