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Old Posted Dec 29, 2006, 12:14 AM
staid_leming staid_leming is offline
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Architecture - a form of city branding?

I am currently writing a paper on city branding, why cities do it, and the effects it can have on local comunities. Genrally using supermodern architecture instead of architecture linking to local cultures and ideas.

im quite interested in this topic and i thought i would share it with you guys, to see what views you have - if i use any of them in my paper you will be refrenced
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Old Posted Dec 29, 2006, 6:18 AM
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Your question is interesting.

Unlike many other American cities, Minneapolis/ St. Paul has "branded" itself by turning to the accomplishments of its fine arts community. This branding has taken many forms. In the case of architectural achievements, the focus has been on high-profile structures recently.

For example...

The city has recently concluded over a half-billion dollars worth of fine-arts buildings that were designed by internationally-known architects, along with new projects that will happen in the next couple of years.

The new Tyrone Guthrie Theatre (winner of a Tony Award for best Regional Theatre) designed by Jean Nouvel.

Minneapolis Institute of Arts (addition by Michael Graves, joining the original building by McKim Mead & White and a 1970's addition by Kenzo Tange.).

Children's Theatre Addition (Again, winner of a Tony Award), by Michael Graves.

New Central Library (designed by Cesar Pelli).

The new addition to the Weisman Museum by Frank Gehry.

When large architectural projects are not practical, then the Twin Cities still have achieved success by sponsoring, for example, the Minnesota Fringe Festival. It is the largest non-juried arts festival in North America. These performances take place among existing venues throughout the two cities. No new architectural structures have been built just to accommodate these performances. However, these shows can be easily accommodated with the existing infrastructure.

Regarding other fine arts such as music, the Minnesota Orchestra has been positioning itself to become America's finest symphony orchestra. When they built their new home in downtown Minneapolis in 1974, they hired one of the best architectural firms in the country that had experience with concert halls (Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer). With over 100 years of history, the orchestra has often been given lavish praise by the international arts community. It is also the very first orchestra to have won a Gold Record. The 1958 recording was Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, and it is still available on Amazon. Other reviews are here and here.

And the orchestra's reputation has depended, on large part, upon the exceedingly great acoustics that the architects provided. In this vein, architecture played a huge role in the "branding" of the city.

The Grammy-Award-winning St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (which is America's ONLY full time Chamber Orchestra, BTW) has been heard across the globe (along with the Minnesota Orchestra) on American Public Media broadcasts. American Public Media, the second largest producer of public radio programs is, by the way, also based in St. Paul. The home of the SPCO is the Ordway Center. It's a glittering concert hall designed specifically for the acoustical requirements of a chamber orchestra. Again, in this case, architecture has played a huge role in branding the city.

The choral community is also unusually well represented. Vocal Essence, one of Americas finest ensembles, is based in St. Paul. As is the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus, the Minnesota Chorale, and the Dale Warland Singers. While no specific concert halls have been erected for the sole purpose of the choral community, there are at least two dozen venues suitable for choral concerts.

The Twin Cities have also positioned themselves as a center for dance. While the high-profile architecture has been limited to the new University dance center, the area is also home to numerous dance companies such as Zenon, Ballet of the Dolls and others that have migrated from New York, such as the James Sewell Ballet, just to name a few.

What I tried to answer for you is that the Twin Cities have invested heavily in architectural gems to promote their "branding" as a major cultural center. The Cities have succeeded on an international level to a point, and have established themselves as a major cultural center on a national scale. But it all depends upon what you pay attention to.

I'd really have to say that all of these efforts have paid off for the community. You asked what kinds of effects these structure may have on a city.

I'm not sure that the structure has an effect as much as that the psyche of the community tends to produce the structures needed for its actualization. I know this sounds a bit philosophical, but somehow the production of fine arts buildings in the Twin Cities have created a sort of feed-back loop. More buildings produce more organizations that demand more buildings. Yes, a new concert hall will spur interest in much the same way that a new sports stadium will give a boost to the local football team. But for this to be a lasting interest, there must be a deep committment to the idea that fine arts matter.
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Last edited by Avian001; Dec 29, 2006 at 7:47 AM.
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  #3  
Old Posted Dec 29, 2006, 7:05 AM
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If I'm understanding your question correctly, you're referring to cities that use a specific style of architecture to set themselves apart from others.

In that regard, my city's brand came about by accident. Asheville was a major boomtown in the 1920's, and most of its most recognizable downtown structures went up during that decade. They were built in a flamboyant art deco style brought back to the city by local architect Douglas Ellington, who was smitten with art deco while enrolled at L'Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. And so, we ended up with such structures as First Baptist Church, City Hall, Asheville High School, Ellington's masterpiece S&W Cafeteria Building (all of which are still standing), plus a host of minor art deco buildings by other architects.

When the stock market crashed in 1929, it brought the city's boom to a screeching halt, when Asheville assumed the highest per capita debt of any city in the country and earned itself the nickname "The City that Suffered Most." Rather than defaulting on its loans though, the city decided to pay them off no matter how long it took, and it took until 1976 to do so.

This meant that while other cities were bulldozing their downtowns in urban renewal bids, we simply didn't have the money to do so, and as a result, all those fine old buildings just sat there decaying until the new wave of urban pioneers came to town in the 1980's. And so, here we are known as a bastion of art deco, North Carolina's most architecturally diverse city, and arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the state if not the South simply due to the quantity and quality of our historic buildings. And that's our brand.
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  #4  
Old Posted Dec 29, 2006, 2:21 PM
staid_leming staid_leming is offline
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most big cities around the world are starting to use supermodern architecture instead of buildings influenced by local cultures

e.g. the buildings in new york would no longer look out of place in dubai, Mumbai (Bombay) or even african cities like Lagos.
when looking at a supermodern building when it is out of its context, unless you knew the backround to the building, you would not be able to place what city in the world it comes from.

Dubai's new buildings have no relation to the culture of the country, unlike that of the petronas towers which have a striking conection with islamic design.

many buildings in tokyo, Hongkong and china have no conection to their cultures.

are all cities starting to look the same? and why? and does this alienate local people, who have no attachment to these buildings.

it has been commented that fine arts buildings bennifit the local comunity - but do they bennefit the lower classes?
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Old Posted Dec 29, 2006, 4:32 PM
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architecture is becoming art, and with architecture going global, architects are no longer tied to their hometowns anymore. So now that art, if it does reflect the culture of a hometown, becomes contextually irrelevant as it's just as likely to be built in a foreign place as it is back home.

It's like most artifacts of pop culture - all of them had a local cultural origin in the beginning, but with the quick dissemination of information in a global economy, that locality is quickly forgotten. Architects are like pop-stars now, and their palatte is the entire world.

Adding to this is the more tangible phenomenon that the global economy increasingly universalizes the materials and methods through which buildings are built, as well as the methods though which money is made etc. Just as the cultural influences on auto-companies have become less distinguishable. The world is becoming a village.

Nowadays, I take comments such as "you are so americanized" or "americans are such and such" with a grain of salt. When speaking on a personal level, what makes "american" so unique? or "french" for that matter?
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  #6  
Old Posted Dec 29, 2006, 6:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by staid_leming View Post
most big cities around the world are starting to use supermodern architecture instead of buildings influenced by local cultures

e.g. the buildings in new york would no longer look out of place in dubai, Mumbai (Bombay) or even african cities like Lagos.
I think there's still room for variance within supermodern are "late modern" architecture. We haven't reached suburban culturized cookie cutter skyscrapers just yet.

For example, Trump Tower Chicago is indeed a supermodern building but it is very contextual and I'm sure if a rendering was shown to most architecture experts without previous knowledge, they would guess the building is being built in Chicago.


Some infill projects will indeed be the same in most cities but a city markets its landmarks, not its infills. So I think there is still something to selling a city for its architectural style.
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Old Posted Dec 29, 2006, 7:27 PM
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Quote:
Dubai's new buildings have no relation to the culture of the country,
But dubai has developed a distinct, alienish, ultra modern style so i think its safe to say it does have its own architectural style
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Old Posted Dec 30, 2006, 1:20 AM
staid_leming staid_leming is offline
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but the point im trying to make is the fact that if that was built in london or any other city in the world it wouldnt look out of place.

this is the statement i have to discuss in my paper:

"In the context of heightened competition for inward investment, cities are packaged and marketed like any other ‘product’ and architecture has been reduced to a form of advertising. Consequently, local needs are now less of a concern for architects and designers"
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Old Posted Dec 30, 2006, 2:51 AM
The Mad Hatter The Mad Hatter is offline
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Well miami is a great example, miami still has 1920's art deco feel to it, shows like miami vice etc. further protrayed miami as this tropical,colorful, flamboyant city with lavish architecture, and many buildings become iconic because of the art deco style they had..prime example south beach and the art deco hotels.
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Old Posted Dec 30, 2006, 2:59 AM
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The Burj Dubai wouldn't look out of place in London? or anywhere else?
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  #11  
Old Posted Dec 30, 2006, 5:19 AM
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Originally Posted by staid_leming View Post
"In the context of heightened competition for inward investment, cities are packaged and marketed like any other ‘product’ and architecture has been reduced to a form of advertising. Consequently, local needs are now less of a concern for architects and designers"
From my perspective local needs are the only concern. Can you imagine Taipei 101 or any of C.Y Lee's other feng shui influenced projects anywhere but Taiwan or China? I can't. My friend, regionalism is alive and well.

A couple of examples:

Below is a image of Maki's proposal for twin towers next to the north gate in Taipei. The buildings were designed to express the Chinese character for gate "門".



New Taipei Exhibition Hall


Taipei Department Store

Last edited by Coyett; Dec 31, 2006 at 3:48 AM.
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Old Posted Jan 1, 2007, 3:06 AM
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I think that branding is more apparent in smaller countries tryuing to distinguish themselves.

Look at any given cities primary supertall...

Chicago: Sears, Jonh Handcock
New York: WTC and Freedom Tower (ignoring Empire and Chrsysler because they are old)
Kuala Lampur: Petronas
Taipei: Tapei 101
Dubai: Burj Dubai
Hong Kong: ICC
Shanghai: Shainghai World Finnacial Center
Mecca: Abraj Al Bait Towers
Moscow: Federation Towers

In nations like US, Russia, China, Hong Kong the supertalls don't really reflect any sort of other cultural influences. Buildings are very international. This is not saying that they aren't contextual, but they are very simple in their designs and could be modified slightly to fit elsewhere.

If you look at nations that you wouldn't expect to find at a G8 conference, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Malaysia, Taiwan (ignoring that its actually part of china), buildings have a distinct cultural feel. Abraj Al Bait has clear Islamic influences. Petronas is almost reminiscient of the spires on Angkor Wat and other traditional Buddhist/Islamic influences. Tapei 101 is reminiscient of pagoda style architecture, and Burj Dubai's six fold symmetry is also very Islamic. These nations, especially Dubai, are building buildings that are more culturally influenced.

Reasons? Well, smaller nations have something to prove. No one really disputes the international power of the US or China, but a nation like the UAE that has something to prove on the international stage builds is a specific style to set itself apart. Many of the these countries I've mentioned have Islam as their official religion, which may also play a part in international idenity, but I won't discuss this further. These are all nations that have recently developed skyscraper interests.

Cities like Chicago and New York instead build "modern" skyscrapers. These cities have been building scryscrapers for over a century. They've had architectural phases, and they have their unique ways of building, but no radical tributes to (not that America has chosen to remember) its prior cultural influences. Proposed buildinge like the Chicago Spire or the London Shard or Russia Tower continue this trend. These G8 countries don't need to gain a spotlight.
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Old Posted Jan 1, 2007, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Alliance View Post
Cities like Chicago and New York instead build "modern" skyscrapers. These cities have been building scryscrapers for over a century. They've had architectural phases, and they have their unique ways of building, but no radical tributes to (not that America has chosen to remember) its prior cultural influences. Proposed buildinge like the Chicago Spire or the London Shard or Russia Tower continue this trend. These G8 countries don't need to gain a spotlight.
Right, so the Freedom Tower, Jin Mao, and Swiss Re weren't developed with the spotlight in mind.
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Old Posted Jan 1, 2007, 10:16 PM
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Old Posted Mar 22, 2007, 4:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alliance View Post
I think that branding is more apparent in smaller countries tryuing to distinguish themselves.

Look at any given cities primary supertall...

Chicago: Sears, Jonh Handcock
New York: WTC and Freedom Tower (ignoring Empire and Chrsysler because they are old)
Kuala Lampur: Petronas
Taipei: Tapei 101
Dubai: Burj Dubai
Hong Kong: ICC
Shanghai: Shainghai World Finnacial Center
Mecca: Abraj Al Bait Towers
Moscow: Federation Towers

In nations like US, Russia, China, Hong Kong the supertalls don't really reflect any sort of other cultural influences. Buildings are very international. This is not saying that they aren't contextual, but they are very simple in their designs and could be modified slightly to fit elsewhere.

If you look at nations that you wouldn't expect to find at a G8 conference, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Malaysia, Taiwan (ignoring that its actually part of china), buildings have a distinct cultural feel. Abraj Al Bait has clear Islamic influences. Petronas is almost reminiscient of the spires on Angkor Wat and other traditional Buddhist/Islamic influences. Tapei 101 is reminiscient of pagoda style architecture, and Burj Dubai's six fold symmetry is also very Islamic. These nations, especially Dubai, are building buildings that are more culturally influenced.

Reasons? Well, smaller nations have something to prove. No one really disputes the international power of the US or China, but a nation like the UAE that has something to prove on the international stage builds is a specific style to set itself apart. Many of the these countries I've mentioned have Islam as their official religion, which may also play a part in international idenity, but I won't discuss this further. These are all nations that have recently developed skyscraper interests.

Cities like Chicago and New York instead build "modern" skyscrapers. These cities have been building scryscrapers for over a century. They've had architectural phases, and they have their unique ways of building, but no radical tributes to (not that America has chosen to remember) its prior cultural influences. Proposed buildinge like the Chicago Spire or the London Shard or Russia Tower continue this trend. These G8 countries don't need to gain a spotlight.
all countries, big or small, build supertalls because 1. they have extra cash to burn 2. they want the attention. it doesn't matter if they did it in the 1930's, 1970's, or doing it now.

i think it will be better if you consider the size of gdp rather the size of the country and think about the companies who designed these supertalls rather than a sweaping generalization on whom these supertalls are designed for.
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Old Posted Mar 23, 2007, 4:46 AM
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hrmmm

so if architecture is a form of city branding then characterless suburban sprawl would be the antithesis of architecture...
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Old Posted Mar 23, 2007, 5:05 AM
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Originally Posted by realm0854 View Post
hrmmm

so if architecture is a form of city branding then characterless suburban sprawl would be the antithesis of architecture...
Not true. You won't find the same spawl-type houses in Edmonton as you would in Orlando, Toronto, Vancouver or Chicago.
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Old Posted Mar 23, 2007, 3:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by staid_leming View Post
most big cities around the world are starting to use supermodern architecture instead of buildings influenced by local cultures
no, most big cities are not starting to do this, this trend of a globalized architecture began many decades ago with the steel and glass boxes of the international style.
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Old Posted Mar 23, 2007, 4:25 PM
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Not true. You won't find the same spawl-type houses in Edmonton as you would in Orlando, Toronto, Vancouver or Chicago.
I'm quite sure you'll find sprawl wherever you look that's not in Europe or Asia.

In fact, that would seem to be what this is, sprawl in Edmonton:

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Old Posted Mar 23, 2007, 4:51 PM
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all countries, big or small, build supertalls because 1. they have extra cash to burn 2. they want the attention. it doesn't matter if they did it in the 1930's, 1970's, or doing it now.
Bull. Sears Tower and John Hancock were built by entirely private interests, and Chicago Spire, if built, would be the same. The government doesn't build them here.
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