Breaking Ground: The Architectural Projects Beginning Construction

Groundbreaking ceremonies are an important step in a building’s realisation, marking the moment when they truly begin to become a reality. Here we look at some of the key projects to begin construction in the last few months

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia, USA

Architects: Frank Gehry

At the end of March work began on the transformative renovation of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which will see the museum’s layout reworked to improve visitor circulation and add an additional 11,500 square feet of gallery space. "We set about unclogging the arteries, and clarifying the roofs and spaces, and making them clearer so circulation will be much more understandable," said Frank Gehry at the groundbreaking ceremony. "And then the pièce de résistance – which hopefully will come soon – to create wonderful galleries that are much needed to complete the story that was started here in Philadelphia." The first of three phases of the renovation is scheduled to be completed in spring 2020.

Image courtesy of Frank Gehry

Lambeth Palace library

London, UK

Architects: Wright & Wright

The end of April saw construction start on the new library at London’s Lambeth Palace, which is set to house the second largest religious collection in the world, featuring works dating back as far as the ninth century. “This is an incredibly exciting moment,” said Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, at the groundbreaking ceremony. “It marks the beginning of making sure that what the head of the National Archives described as ‘the second most important ancient library in Europe’ – not just in the UK – gets a proper home: a home where it can be looked after, and where scholars can come and it can be used properly.” Designed to elevate the collection to prevent flood damage, the library will be completed in 2020.

Image courtesy of Wright & Wright


Toronto, Canada

Architects: 3XN

In May work began on LEED-certified residential tower Aquabella, a property incorporating multiple outdoor spaces and green roofs to serve as an environmentally conscious icon for the Bayside Toronto waterfront area. “3XN is thrilled to be part of helping Toronto to reclaim its industrial waterfront and integrate it into the city,” said 3XN principal Kim Herforth Nielsen. “Inspired by the scale and intimacy of a family home, we envision this new project as a vertical neighbourhood on the shores of Lake Ontario. The design puts people first, paying particular attention to the quality of views, space and lifestyle. The development will command extraordinary views of the water, neighbouring parks, and the city skyline.” When it opens in 2020, Aquabella will include 174 residential units.

Image courtesy of 3XN

Fitts-Woolard Hall

North Carolina, USA

Architects: Clark Nexsen

May also saw the groundbreaking ceremony for the latest addition to NC State University: Fitts-Woolard Hall. Designed to provide additional capacity for the College of Engineering, it includes a structural testing lab, large-scale driving simulator and student project space. “Fitts-Woolard Hall will be a state-of-the-art facility that truly supports our vision of collaborative, interdisciplinary instruction, research and innovation,” said NC State University Chancellor Randy Woodson. “This project is vital to the future of the College of Engineering.” The four-storey structure, which will be completed in 2020, also features a variety of gathering spaces to encourage interaction and socialisation between students.

Image courtesy of Clark Nexsen

Giorgetti Houston

Houston, USA

Architects: Mirador Group

The first branded property development from Italian luxury furniture maker Giorgetti has begun construction in Houston, Texas. A seven-story structure housing 2 penthouses and 30 additional apartments, it is designed to echo the style and craftsmanship of the brand, and features an exterior inspired by Giorgetti’s Orgami cabinet. “We really tried to think, what were the objections to condominium living in the past, and how do we overcome those objections?” Jacob Sudhoff, president of partnering real estate firm Sudhoff Companies, told Houstonia. “People are looking for that quality and to have something they’ve never been able to have in their past, and we’re able to give that to them. Giorgetti Houston is the launch of a whole new level.” The luxury development is scheduled for completion in 2019.

Image courtesy of Giorgetti Houston