Romanian architects are changing the face of cities all around the world

The headquarter of Guerlain or Le Figaro in Paris, the Montreal Archives, villas in America, hospitals, malls and banks everywhere in the world – all have in common the important contribution of Romanian architects.

I have commenced this article by showing some significant numbers that shape up the image of Europe`s architectural market – the area where most Romanian specialists choose to do their jobs. The study called “Being an architect in Romania”, coordinated by Șerban Țigănaș (president of the Romanian Order of Architects) together with a team of researchers from the Faculty of Sociology, Babeș Bolyai University in Cluj presents some complex statistics with regards to the situation of the Romanian architects and concludes on the desire and the need for a change.

In a country that produces too many architects, more and more people direct their professional objectives towards countries with high standards. The number of professionals who carry the Romanian ambition and creativity over the border is not a small one, thus continuing the path initiated by many great Romanian names that became known abroad thanks to their remarkable achievements.

The name of Dan Sergiu Hanganu is often mentioned as being one of the greatest contemporary Romanian architects. He graduated the Faculty of Architecture in Bucharest; this is where he also worked as assistant professor and for some of the country`s research institutes.

In 1970 Dan Hanganu moved to Canada where he found international recognition. A few years later, he carried out his first important project, a residential complex in Quebec. Being an honorific member of the Romanian Academy (since 2003), Dan Hanganu has contributed to some of the most important works in Canada and worldwide – buildings that were integrated in the international architectural patrimony: the studios Le Cirque du Soleil, La Tour de la Bourse, Le Centre Bell – all in Montreal. Some of the reference buildings restored and transformed by him are: Le Theatre du Nouveau Monde, Quebec Archives, Abbey Church (Quebec).

In 1994, the architect received a medal from the general governor of Quebec for the project of the Archeological Museum Pointe-a-Calliere, one of the best known buildings in Montreal. Parque Expo’98 (Lisabon, Portugal), Quatab Enclave (Gurgaon, India) and other tens of constructions in Canada, Switzerland, Morocco, India and Romania complete his impressive portfolio.

Architect Dan Hanganu is a member of the Royal Canadian Arts Academy, of the Quebec Order of Architects and of the Ontario Architects Association. He teaches at the Montreal and McGill University and he is associated professor at various universities in the USA, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Columbia, China, France and Italy.

He received nine Excellency awards from the Quebec Order of Architects, and also other tens of awards for all his achievements.

Speaking of the contemporary generation, brothers Daniel and Maximilian Zielinski have amazed an entire world with their ideas, creativity and performances.They started the study of architecture in Bucharest for the first two years and then continued in Stuttgart, at one of the most prestigious Western universities.

They were accepted to work for one of the largest architecture studio in the world – Foster & Partners, in London, an office that brings together more than 1,000 architects who produce worldwide projects. Here, they had the opportunity to design the city of the future, in the United Arab Emirates, a city that is 100% non-pollutant. The green city of Abu Dhabi presents a concept of complete energetic efficiency, a concept that will generate some much reduced administrative costs.

The project is based on solar energy and on aerodynamic shaped constructions that facilitate the energetic circuit, with luxuriant vegetation and an automated auto-driven transportation network. They are twin brothers and they cannot imagine having a successful project one without the other.

Together of course they have won the contest” Living City Design” with a project that reshapes the city of Paris – an architectural model which aims to achieve energetic efficiency and to decrease the level of pollution. Developing the green areas, transferring the transportation network in the underground areas, largely using means of ecological locomotion – are only some of the transformations that the young Zelinski architects believe are mandatory for the evolution of any city.

The master plan of the city of Tripoli, Libya, or Trogir, Croatia, the 300 meter tower of the National Bank of Kuwait are also some of the projects they worked for. Foster & Partners offered them the greatest challenge received so far: building the new Apple headquarters in California, estimated to be finalized in the year 2016. The shape of an immense circle, with a 500 meter diameter, resembling with a space ship, combines technological performances and innovative materials with nature and vegetation. They had personally met Steve Jos, Apple`s founder and they are trying to implement his desires in terms of this project.

Cristian Gavrilescu is also a Romanian architect. He had immigrated to the USA when he was 30 years old, right after finishing the architectural studies in Bucharest and moved to New York, where he had the opportunity to learn architecture directly on a construction site. He has worked with some of the world`s most famous architects, people like Charles Gwathmey or I.M. Pei, the creator of the Louvre pyramid.

The Romanian architect has taken over a part of his projects, after the Americans have stopped working with the Arab states, following the September 2011 events. Cristian Gavrilescu is the Romanian who has designed Palm Tower in Dubai, the highest tower in the world – 1.000 meters, the building that was indented to break the world record of another Dubai construction, Burj Khalifa (830 meters). After the American experience, Cristian Gavrilescu had spent two years in London, where he worked for KPF International, together with the famous architect Daniel Libeskind, who designed the World Trade Center memorial.

Christian Tanascaux, an active architect both in France and in Romania, is one of the few specialists in hospital design and worked in tens of projects between 1986 and 2002. Some of the hospitals where he actively contributed are Vaugirard and Cochin, both in Paris. Romanian architects have also played an important part in the theoretical field of this profession, through academic activities that completed the practical ones.

One of the greatest intellectuals is Livio Dimitriu, an internationally renowned architect and professor at “Pratt Institute” in New York. The young Romanian students often benefit from his experience, every time he is invited to participate in the admission commissions or to teach courses at various universities.

Professor Dimitriu had also founded Urban Studies and Architecture Institute, having its headquarters in New York and Verona, and has written numerous specialized studies and worldwide published book. Among his creations there are architectural projects for residences, institutional and religious buildings, urban and industrial design in the USA, Japan, Korea and Romania. In fact, his merits were recognized with a series of important prizes, such as “Honor Award/First Prize” given by the American Institute of Architects (1985), “First Prize Places Competition” (1984), the Venice Biennal Prizes, the Gold Medal for Urban Design in Cefalu, Italia (1979) etc.

His projects were included in some prestigious exhibitions at the Architecture Museum in Germany, Taiwan Fine Arts Museum, Museum of Finnish Architecture, Venice Biennale, MoMA in New York or Modern Arts Museum in Paris. There are many other models besides the ones mentioned above, architects who successfully carry Romania’s name in the countries where they work and who are constantly providing value to the projects they produce; in many cases they also return to implement such projects in their home country.

A large part of their experiences was gathered by Arch. Adrian Mahu PhD. in the book called “The Architects and their Exile” published in 1992, which contains biographies and projects of more than 68 Romanian architects who found success abroad and are spread all over the world.