Back in June, the Ross Development Trust and the City of Edinburgh Council released a shortlist of seven finalist teams, all competing for the chance to lead the revitalization of the Ross Pavilion. Located in the heart of the capital of Scotland, the site sits below the Edinburgh Castle at the intersection of Old and New Towns, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a place of national importance. The vision for the £25 million redevelopment includes a visitor center, a cafe, improvements to the surrounding Garden, and a space that provides a flexible platform for arts and cultural programming.
Today, those heading the search have finally selected the US-based design practice wHY, in partnership with Edinburgh office GRAS, as the winning team. The practice, headed by Kulapat Yantrasast, has become known over the years for conjuring environments that suit the needs of art—the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, Michigan's Grand Rapids Art Museum, and the newly completed Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles are all past projects by the Culver City-based firm. This will be their first project in Europe, as well as their first park.
Beating out proposals by powerhouses BIG, Adjaye Associates, and Sou Fujimoto Architects, the winners put forth an organic, landscape-focused scheme that introduced pavilions topped with gently undulating terrains—as to keep focus on the castle. Called Butterfly, the design received unanimous approval from the jury, being praised as "a beautiful and intensely appealing proposal that complements, but [does] not compete with, the skyline of the city and the castle." The competition director had this to add: "their proposal is a landscape scheme that is really more like and energy-field: using animation and drama as well as open vistas, they transform the Gardens and create an experience that is much freer and organic. As is their style, they conscientiously sampled local opinion, and have come up with a design proposal that is engaging and refreshing."
As for the firm, the Thai-born, Japanese-educated founder remarked on the win stating that "wHY is built around an ecology of disciplines, the convergence of ideas, experience, nature and people. The Ross Pavilion and West Princes Street Gardens represent this convergence and this was the perfect ground to further our approach to design. To be selected from so many extraordinary thinkers is an honor. We felt a personal connection to the Gardens and believe our design embodies how important collaboration and people are to making a place remarkable.”
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