All posts by Preston Vu

Vanke Pavilion×650.jpg?theia_smart_thumbnails_file_version=2

Vanke Pavilion explores key issues related to the theme of the Expo Milano 2015, “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”. The concept for this structure incorporates three ideas drawn from Chinese culture related to food: the shi-tang (a tradition dining hall), the landscape and the dragon. It is situated on the southeast edge of the Lake Arena. The design features a sinuous geometrical pattern that flows between inside and outside. A grand staircase carves through the red serpentine form and guides to the upper level. The pavilion is clad in more than 4,000 red metalized tiles that Daniel Libeskind designed along with the Italian company Casalgrande Padana. The ceramic panels not only create an expressive pattern that is evocative of a dragon-like skin, but also possess highly sustainable self-cleaning and air purification properties.


Designed by Daniel Libeskind, Magnet is a residential complex located in Tirana, Albania. This 13-story building is crescent-shaped in plan, rising with stepped terraces toward a crescendo of 45 meter-high at the western tip. At ground level there is a retail and office space and a pedestrian plaza. Each of the 115 units have south-exposed living areas where the window and door openings have been designed in concert with the balcony forms to maximize passive solar shading in the summer, while allowing the lower winter sun in. The complex provides playgrounds, tennis and bicycle roads, introducing a new kind of liveliness to the city.


Kö-Bogen, or the `King’s Bow,’ is located in Dusseldorf, Germany. This is a large-scale office and retail complex whose form hugs the point where the Konigsallee Boulevard, Dusseldorf primary avenue, converges with the newly created Hofgarten promenade. The base of the building is 40,165 meter square, with 13,547 meter square of ground parking. The complex are separated into two parts by a central pedestrian passageway and joined above by a two-story bridge. The central passageway serves as a new pedestrian path connecting to the commercial area of Schadowstrasse with the Hofgarten.

“Daniel Libeskind’s Kö-Bogen is the world’s best urban building.” –Golden City Development

Imperial War Museum North

Another unique design by Daniel Libeskind – Imperial War Museum North is located in Greater Manchester, England. It occupies a site overlooking the Manchester Ship Canal in Trafford Park. The museum explores the impact of modern conflicts on people and society. It opened in July 2002 and received 470,000 visitors in its first year. The museum is a prime example of Deconstructivist architecture. It features a permanent exhibition of chrnological and thematic displays.

The design concept is a globe shattered into fragments and then reassembled. Three fragments representing eath, air and water comprise the building’s form. The Earth Shard forms the museum space, signify the earthly realm of conflict and war. The Air Shard serves as an entry into the museum. The Water Shard forms the platform for viewing the canal, with a restaurant, cafe and deck.

Jewish Museum

The Jewish museum in Berlin, designed by Daniel Libeskind, is one of the largest Jewish Museums in Europe. It consists of two buildings – a baroque old building (formerly housed the Berlin Museum) and a new, deconstructivist- style building by Libeskind. In 1988, Libeskind was chosen as the winner among many other internationally renowned architects. His design implemented a radical, formal design as a conceptually expressive tool to represent the Jewish lifestyle before, during and after the Holocaust. In order to enter the new museum extension one must enter from the original Baroque museum in an underground corridor. The interior of the building is even more complicated, the promenade leads people through galleries, empty spaces and dead ends. A significant portion of the extension is void of windows and difference in materiality. One of the most emotional and powerful spaces in the building is a 66′ tall void that runs through the entire building. The building is less of a museum but an experience depicting what most cannot understand.

One World Trade Center

Designed by David Childs and Daniel Libeskind, One World Trade Center (or Freedom Tower) was completed in July 2013. It is the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex in New York City. It has the same name as the North Tower which was destroyed in the terrorist attacks of 9/11. It is the tallest in the western Hemisphere, and the six-th tallest in the world. It is also one of the world’s greenest buildings. Much of the materials used in its construction come from postindustrial recycled materials. The base of the tower is a cubic, however it forms a perfect octagon at the middle. Its overall effect is that of a crystalline form that captures an ever-evolving display of refracted light. One World Trade Center is a icon in the sky that acknowledges the adjacent memorial.

El Capitolio, Havana



El Capitolio (National Capitol Building)  is a massive building standing in the central Havana, Cuba. I always try to enter the capitol building of every city or country I visited but not this time; this building has been in maintenance for at least ten years according to my friends there (but it seems like there was no one really working on it). It was built in 1928, and houses the famous La Estatua de la República statue inside (again, my friends said it is one of largest statues of the world). Income of Cuban citizens are considered below average (about $10 a month for an engineer); however, the buildings in Havana are incredibly magnificent. With the colonization of Spain, Cuba has its unique style of architecture (easily to recognize in Old Havana area).

Photo credit is mine

Leaning Tower of Pisa




Leaning Tower of Pisa (Torre pendente di Pisa) is one unique architectural structure. The day our study group went to Pisa was one hot sunny day, the perfect blue sky made the view even better. Included in the first picture is Pisa Cathedral, with its remarkable architect. We may all know that the Tower of Pisa is famous for Galileo’s experiment – dropping two cannon balls from the top to prove that the speed is independent of the masses. This small trip was so impressive to us that some members of our study group took part in building in the mini version of Pisa Tower in our Bizzell Memorial Library.

Photo credit is mine

Piazza San Marco


IMG_7408Piazza San Marco, or St. Mark’s Square, also called the Piazza, is the principle public square of Venice city. The building in the first picture is the Church of St. Mark; and in the second picture is Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana (National Library of St. Mark).  When I first came into the square, I noticed a difference between the architecture of these two buildings and other structures I had seen in the southern Italy, but that is not why I picked them for this blog. I had a valuable moment right in the Square the first night I came – enjoying free classical music from different bars. Different bars have their own band playing classical music right in the square, one at a time. Sitting down in such a romantic atmosphere and enjoying a glass of wine was the moment that I would never forger. Too bad that I was travelling alone.

Photos credit is mine

Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano



Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano, or St. Peter’s Basilica, is the most magnificent architectural structure I have ever seen in my life. It is located in Vatican city, right in middle of Rome, Italy. Outside of the basilica is a giant square with some fancy fountains. However the interior of the building is the one that made me truly amazed. As you can see in the second picture above, the pillars and the ceiling are decorated with such precise little details. Observing the art of St. Peter’s Basilica, I understood a lot more about Renaissance period and the history of art that came with it.

Photos credit is mine