Wednesday, May 13, 2009

South Korean plans for US$20 billion makeover of the U.S. Army base in Yongsan

American architect Daniel Libeskind, the master planner for the World Trade Center site, has won a design competition to turn the center of the South Korean capital into an international business district.

Mr. Libeskind's firm announced late Tuesday in New York that it had been chosen as master planner for the $20 billion project, which will include a cluster of skyscrapers in residential, office and retail neighborhoods along the Han River. It will also contain cultural and educational facilities and rapid transportation systems.

This illustrated image shows Studio Daniel Libeskind's winning design for Seoul's Yongsan International Business District.

The site is near the current South Korean headquarters for the U.S. military, which is expected to move to a new base south of Seoul by 2012. The former military grounds are to be turned into a Central Park-like attraction as part of the city's long-overdue facelift.

"The idea is to create a 21st Century destination that is at once transformative, vibrant, sustainable and diverse," Mr. Libeskind said in a statement. "I wanted to make each form, each place, each neighborhood as varied and distinctive as possible."

Studio Daniel Libeskind was on a shortlist of five top firms competing for the project. The competitors also included U.S.-based firms Asymptote Architecture and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP, along with Britain's Foster and Partners.

The project is slated to break ground in 2011 and be completed by 2016.

The developer is a consortium led by the state-run Korea Railroad Corp. The project includes funding from the Samsung Group and the National Pension Service.

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