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Although it is very difficult to categorize a wide range of London's architectural masterpieces designed by world's renowned architects, the contemporary architecture in London appears to have its own unique character. Unlike most of its European neighbors where architecture is still heavily infulenced by the simplicity of modernism, cubic expression and minimalism, the British contemporary architecture appears to have liberated itself from right angles and embraced more sophisticated and futuristic compositions that define the London skyline. The unorthodox form of the London skyline monuments earned them rather interesting nicknames among Londoners such as Cheesegrater, Walkie-Talkie, Gherkin and the latest Renzo Piano addition called Salt Cellar, or officially known as the Shard.
By Simon Grayson
Thanksgiving has just been here and gone in the US and despite thoroughly stuffing myself with two turkeys and a ham on Friday, I managed to use the rest of the long weekend to travel south and see every geek's dream - the NASA Control Centre at Houston (Johnson Space Centre). (Above image courtesy noisydecentgraphics.com)
The Theatre in London originated in the 16th Century after the English Reformation. Today, the city has over one hundred production and roadhouse theatres including those that have hosted renowned mainstream musicals such as Les Misérables, Wicked, Jersey Boys, Lion King and many others. About fourty of London's theatres are concentrated in the entertainment district called "Theatreland" in the West End of London where the HKS office happens to be located. Along with New York's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world. Seeing a West End show is a common tourist activity in London. Last year, West End Theatres set a record sale of nearly 15 million tickets.
By Simon Grayson
One thing that's interesting about Dallas is it's Arts District, which has a surprisingly large number of "starchitect" designed museums, galleries and performance venues all clustered within a relatively small part of the city. Last week I visited the ongoing Heatherwick Studio exhibition at the Nasher Sculpture Gallery, discovered on a wander through the area when I started to wonder why I could see the 24 bus parked in the foyer.
Vlogging my experiences as an HKS Xchange Fellow in London.
By Simon Grayson
A bit of a touristy blog post for this week - firstly a trip to the Stockyards at Fort Worth to see some frontier history, and later a trip to the Dallas Heritage Village near the HKS apartment.
Spanning many dynasties, the northern Chinese capital city of Beijing has been the civic and cultural heart of this region throughout many millennia. Home to dozens of palaces, temples, artifacts, and monuments, exploring Beijing is an endless experience through China’s rich history and intricate cultural traditions. 1200km north of Shanghai, Beijing is markedly different than the southern metropolis, yet also experiences the same complex dichotomy between old-world tradition and modern-day economic growth. Recently, a collection of contemporary “temples” have been built in Beijing’s booming economic heartland by architectural giants including OMA, Herzog & De Meuron and Zaha Hadid. I made it my mission this past weekend to experience the full spectrum of Beijing – from ancient to modern.
Manchester Proton Beam Therapy Centre has been my first assignment in the London office. It will be the first Proton Treatment Center in the UK, located at the Christie Hospital Campus, one of the largest European cancer treatment centers of its kind. Proton Beam Therapy (PBT) is a type of radiotherapy that uses a high energy beam of protons rather than the more traditional high energy X-rays to deliver a dose of radiotherapy for patients with cancer. It is used to treat very rare cancers and can be a more effective form of therapy because it directs the all-important radiation treatment to precisely where it is needed with minimal damage to surrounding tissue. The treatment is therefore particularly suitable to pediatric patients with complex childhood cancers.
The Suzhou Museum is one of the last great works of Chinese-American master architect I. M. Pei, and honestly, one of the best contemporary pieces of architecture I’ve seen. Set among a backdrop of historic architecture and gardens within Suzhou, the museum is sensitive to its context, organized according to historic Chinese building principles, yet unapologetically bold in its contemporary simplicity. Only an hour from Shanghai by train, this great Chinese canal city was high on my list of places that deserved a weekend visit during my time here in China.
By Simon Grayson
Last weekend saw me trying out for the first time both cycling in Dallas and the "new" bike in order to see a bit more of the wider area surrounding Downtown. Rather than looking to the Trinity River trail I decided to head out in the opposite direction east, with an aim to use the Santa Fe railroad to head up to White Rock Lake" and back again.