|Fentress offers some words of wisdom for the market|
Visiting Vietnam on the occasion of the Vietnam Architecture 2011 exhibition (VietArc 2011) organised in early June in Ho Chi Minh City, US-based Fentress Architect has decided to stay on as it was overwhelmed by the country’s ample architecture opportunities.
Company chairman Curtis Worth Fentress said the firm had studied Vietnam for a long time and it would help develop the country’s rampant urbanisation. Vietnam was developing at a rapid pace and its design expertise in public buildings like universities, city halls, airports, convention centres, museums, high rises and hotels could help leverage on its development.
With more than 300 different projects, Fentress has become internationally recognised for his design portfolio during the past 30 years, including $26 billion of architectural landmarks worldwide.
Its success can be seen in award winning projects like Incheon International Airport in Korea and Arraya Tower in Kuwait. Incheon has won “World’s Best Airport” for six consecutive years (2005-2010). Arraya Tower was the world’s fourth tallest building built in 2009.
“Vietnam needs a lot of new buildings, airports, hotels and residential buildings. However, they need to be built in a way that does not look like everywhere else in the world, or rather, they need to be built in a way that characterises Vietnam. It is pretty amazing to see all the new high-rises here and with price of land in the downtown very expensive, you are going to see a lot of mixed-use projects in the downtown,” said Fentress.
The American architect, who was awarded American Institute of Architects’ Thomas Jefferson Award, the highest honour in public architecture, said that Fentress Architect was working on procedures to design several property projects in the country in the coming time, but he declined to reveal specific locations for the future projects, except the information that the company was looking for a chance to design a big mixed-use project in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City.
“We are now looking to work with local architecture firms for projects in Vietnam,” Fentress said.
What makes Fentress different from other foreign firms in the world is that it has successful track record of designing international projects and collaborating with local architecture firms to create award winning buildings in Korea, China, Kuwait and Dubai.
The company has worked with some provinces in Vietnam that are in need of building new airports or replacing old ones for modern facilities, to present its concept design, and it has received a positive feedback from those provinces.
According to the company, green design and using special materials for saving on energy, and sustainable buildings that has become a global concern, were among topics that the architect firm introduced to visitors at the architecture exhibition. Those details were also among the company’s experiences shared to students of the Ho Chi Minh City Architecture University during his trip to Vietnam. The importance for buildings in the future here was to reflect the people and culture, as well as the place where such buildings are located.
Fentress said: “The future developments in Vietnam should reflect the peculiar nature of Vietnam, and should not be looking like they came from New York or Hong Kong or Shanghai.”
He said Vietnam had many things about culture, fashion, crafts and people that were unique to the world. Therefore, those features should be incorporated into designs of the new buildings.
Founded in 1980 and now known as a leading public architecture design firm in the world and ranked top 10 green design firms in the US, Fentress Architects is headquartered in Colorado, with studios in California and Washington, D.C.