Even 'Starchitects' Need a Good Pitch to Win

'Starchitects' compete for prime real estate in New York City, and selling their stuff isn’t as easy as one might think. See four famous architects in action as they pitch designs for a new office tower on Park Avenue.

Read Time: 2 minutes

December 15, 2012, 5:00 AM PST

By Erica Gutiérrez


“You've seen them posing in magazines, performing in lecture theatres and maybe even shouting across the office. But it is unlikely you've ever sat behind a boardroom table and given Richard Rogers, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas or Norman Foster a grilling,” writes Oliver Wainwright.

The pressure was on in “one of the most high-profile competitions in recent years” with designs for a new tower for L&L Holding Company on Park Avenue in New York. It will be the first full tower built there in years, next to iconic buildings such as Mies van der Rohe's Seagram building, says Wainwright. And in the article you can glimpse the presentations from each design team to compare how they rose, or shrank, from the challenge.  

According to Wainwright, though the other design submissions may be just as interesting, and perhaps even more innovative than Foster’s classic approach, the architects failed to deliver in their presentations and attention to detail, not knowing exact dimensions, for example, and relying on power points to sell their proposals.

Alternatively, Wainwright asserts, Foster comes out ahead “because he is one of the few principals of a practice this size with the ability to give the impression of having a personal grasp of every detail of the scheme.” And as they say, "the devil is in the details"-- which is, ironically, a phrase attributed to none other than Mies van der Rohe himself. 

Editor's Note: Soon after this article was posted, the videos were removed from public view. We're glad to see they've been reposted.

Monday, November 19, 2012 in The Guardian U.K.

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