July's Architect of the Month: SHoP

SHoP Architects was founded in New York City in 1996 by five partners — Gregg Pasquarelli, Christopher Sharples, Coren Sharples, William Sharples, and Kimberly Holden. The firm is renowned for its innovative designs and use of advanced technologies. SHoP’s partners had different career backgrounds before turning to architecture, giving them a unique perspective on the profession.

I have always admired their work on high-profile projects around the world, including residential, commercial, cultural, and institutional structures.

The practice operates like a family, making decisions based on discussion and consensus. It’s a business model that aims to combine the artistic and commercial aspects of architecture, challenging the notion of choosing between the two. This has allowed the partners to move beyond traditional boundaries and explore the relationships between architecture, art, and design to create immersive and engaging spaces.

SHoP is known for designing super-tall skyscrapers in New York. In 2022, it was named the laureate of the American Prize for Architecture. The firm’s projects span the globe and can be found in cities like Melbourne, Botswana, Sydney, and Detroit. The principals focus on bringing together diverse expertise to improve the quality of public life, challenge construction processes, and demonstrate the synergy between beauty and technology. They consider factors like the site, cultural environment, client needs, budget constraints, construction methods, marketing, and post-occupancy issues.

The firm’s project at Detroit’s historic Hudson’s Site has been a catalyst for the continued revitalization of the city. SHoP collaborated with locally-based architects, Hamilton Anderson Associates, to design a multi-use building with a large indoor/outdoor market and various services to accommodate new residents.

The company also contributed to the iconic borough of Brooklyn with the Barclays Center. Completed in 2012, the multipurpose indoor arena hosts over 200 cultural and sports events each year and has helped redefine the standards of what an urban arena can offer. SHoP does an excellent job designing innovative spaces that make a lasting difference to customers and communities for generations to come.

SHoP won an international competition in 2010 to design the campus buildings of the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH), a science and technology park in Gaborone, near the Kalahari Desert. The building features sustainable energy technology, including an energy blanket roofscape, roof gardens, and photovoltaic panels. Local artisans contributed to the interiors, including a mural made with a traditional wet-earth technique.

The firm’s redesign of Pier 17 on Manhattan’s South Street Seaport was inspired by the industrial buildings that were once part of the historic area and includes an open-air pedestrian space that provides unobstructed views of the Brooklyn Bridge. This project was part of the East River Waterfront’s master plan that SHoP has worked on since 2004, and they have also developed projects for clients like Google, Uber, Goldman Sachs, and the U.S. State Department.

By creating intelligent and evocative architecture within real-world constraints, SHoP’s structures add dynamism to cities. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

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