Tianjin High Speed Rail Station

Architype Dialogue presents

Ross Wimer

What was the most difficult issue about working within this building type or the most unexpected challenge that may have influenced new thought in your project?

The design for the Tanggu Rail Hub accommodates many complex challenges. The program includes a high-speed rail station, three subway stations, a bus station and a large taxi staging area, all of which reside beneath a large public park. This is a new type of building and creates a prototype for future urban transportation facilities. The greatest challenge was providing sufficient light and ventilation to the station. The solution includes many small skylights, stairs and mechanical vents that are integrated into the landscape. A large domed structure forms the roof of the main waiting area and has a quiet presence within the park, but presents a grand space for arriving passengers.

Did this project expand or evolve your role as an architect in any way? In general, do you feel that the role of the architect is changing on current projects?

As the designer of this project, my role included collaborating with an interdisciplinary team of engineers and technical specialists. In order to complete a thoroughly integrated design, the team worked as one, beginning in the earliest phases of the process. The structure and mechanical systems are organized to allow for easy circulation between the different modes of transportation served by the station. On Tanggu, as well as other projects, the role of the architect is evolving as the engineering input necessary to support sustainable design must be integrated early in the process. The creative input that drives the form of new buildings cannot ignore environmental demands.

How is your building possible today in a way that it may not have been before and how have trends in technology and society inspired new thought and solutions?

The design for Tanggu station is dependent on the computer programs that have allowed the team to create the shape and test its performance. This follows a technological trend where most of the design work takes place in a digital realm. The techniques of construction have not yet become integrated with the design process, but we are rapidly approaching a time when that will be the norm.

In the context of this project, how is your office and design process being influenced by current trends in academic curricula and incoming young architects? In turn, how are current projects and processes guiding the ongoing reformulation and development of academic curricula?

For the past ten years, I have been teaching at several institutions, including the Illinois Institute of Technology.. Over that time, the curriculum has evolved towards more substantial training in parametric design software. This software allows designs to be modified in order to respond to a variety of inputs that can range from site to view to climate. The traditional curriculum used to yield singular solutions for design problems is becoming a process that creates many alternatives. These alternatives are then optimized and refined into a final design, but the generation of the solutions is as important as the final result.

Architype Review thanks Ross Wimer for his interview and for contributing to this collection of Architype Dialogue.

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