Return to Riverside: China to NYC

by Audrey Choi

Riverside 66, the beautiful giant whale that landed in Tianjin, China.  My passion project for the past seven years. Although I have always wanted to work on small scale residential design, I was determined to see this unique and challenging project through. Finally the pretty images on paper became a reality.  It was truly an incredible experience to work on a building in such great detail and to finally see it come to fruition.  Especially after 7 years! And as it turns out, the giant whale brought me good luck – as shortly after construction was completed I joined the amazing LRA team and have been happily working on residential projects ever since!

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Riverside 66 photo: Tim Griffith

The grand opening for this mega retail complex took place this September and I am so proud of what my team and I accomplished.  Along the north, is the iconic glass shell, a sleek double-curvature form that is supported by 22 seven-storey high structural concrete ribs. Along the south, a beautifully composed series of open-joint stone display boxes.  Just so that you get a sense of the scale: the length of the building is equivalent to the height of the Empire State Building!  The design has definitely evolved during the years as it became more of a reality and as we mulled over every joint, reveal, mullion and corner.  It was important that it not only impressed from far away but also at the pedestrian level.  Attention to detail is so critical to me, in architecture and in basically everything I do, so I loved obsessing over every detail like a crazy person.  Obviously it was impossible to cover every inch of the project due to its sheer size and intense construction schedule but overall, I think our team did an amazing job!

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Detail shots courtesy of Jeff Kenoff (KPF)

When I joined LRA, I wasn’t sure how my experience working on large scale curtain-wall buildings would become helpful when designing apartment renovations.  But I’m slowly learning that my time at KPF has taught me so many invaluable skills that I can still apply to any project, no matter what the scale and scope. Now back at my desk in NYC, as I detail an apartment renovation on Riverside Drive, I can think fondly of my other Riverside project standing proudly in Tianjin.

TAG/Audrey Choi