Proposed Oakland A’s stadium. Source: Bjarke Ingels Group

I was in Silicon Valley last week while plans for the new Oakland A’s ballpark were revealed. Between the numbers and images flying around, I got to thinking about Rangers’ stadium taking shape in Arlington.

I’ll stop right here and say that the last baseball game I attended was a Chicago Cubs’ game (against lord knows who) in the late 1980s (I was a plus-one good friend). I’ve never cared for sports or the foam-fingered, face-painted, booze-sopped civic pride they engender.  So please don’t take this column as some sort of shot at baseball – this is about creating useful architecture.

First, it’s interesting that the in-person audience for professional baseball appears to be shrinking. Ranger’s Stadium is slimming from 48,114 seats to an estimated ~42,000. The Oakland A’s are also proposing a smaller, 34,000-seat stadium – their current digs seat 63,000 and were shared with the departing Oakland Raiders.

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A building no longer relevant to its neighborhood

As part of my research into Copenhagen’s BIG architects, I watched a recent interview with founder Bjarke Ingels titled Different Angles.  A story he told dovetailed with something I’ve been thinking.  He talked about visiting an abandoned 2,750-year-old Synagogue in northern Iraq. He found out that it had only become derelict in the past 50 years when cultural hostility saw the congregation move to Israel. In the space of 50 years, a nearly three-millennia-old building fell to ruin because it was no longer relevant to the community.

Architects, he said, could build structures that physically endure, but they can only last as long as they are relevant.  Sometimes relevance equates to their ability to be repurposed.

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I’ve heard the Olympics are over.  One thing fans didn’t see in Seoul, South Korea, were the as yet unbuilt, Cross # Towers designed by Denmark-based BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group).  BIG employs over 450 staff in offices in Copenhagen, London, and New York City. Founding Partner Bjarke Ingels graduated architectural school in the 1990s and founded BIG in 2005 after founding his original firm PLOT in 2001.  Awards? He has a wall full.  Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Rice? He’s taught at them all. In 2016, Ingels was named one of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World” by Time Magazine. Oh, all this and he’s 43.

BIG is the second architecture firm I’m begging to come to Dallas (Studio Gang was first).

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KAI-UWE BERGMANN HEADSHOT_Credits to Andrejs Strokins (2)

On April 26, The Dallas Architecture Forum will present a not-to-be-missed opportunity to hear from world-renowned architect Kai-Uwe Bergmann. Bergmann is managing partner of award-winning Bjarke Ingels Group Architects in New York City and Copenhagen, Denmark – largely regarded as one of the world’s most innovative architecture firms.

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Aga Khan Award

Issam Fares Institute in Beirut, Lebanon, by Zaha Hadid Architects. Photo: AKTC-Cemal Emden

The Dallas Architecture Forum will launch its twentieth-anniversary season next week with a lecture about the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

Aga Khan Award

Shiraz Allibhai. Photo: Aga Khan Trust

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture is given every three years to projects that set new standards of excellence in architecture, planning practices, historic preservation, and landscape architecture. Through its efforts, the award seeks to identify and encourage building concepts that successfully address the needs and aspirations of societies across the world in which Muslims have a significant presence.

The winners of this triennial competition, with a grand prize of $1 million, were recently announced. They include projects by internationally known firms such as Zaha Hadid Architects and BIG Architects, as well as those by rising talent from countries around the world. Winning projects are located in China, Bangladesh, Iran, Lebanon, and Denmark.

The International Deputy Director of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Shiraz Allibhai, will come from Geneva, Switzerland, to make this presentation.

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