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Here Now, the Best Laid Plans for Starchitect-Designed Parks

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Architects are masters of creating enclosed spaces in which people live and work, but what happens when the best and brightest in the business take their talents out of doors and create buildings and plans for public parks? Take the Dongdaemun Design Park & Plaza, a near-finished Seoul, South Korea creation by Zaha Hadid. The complex features a large museum devoted to fashion design, various exhibition/meeting halls, and a surrounding park that together act "seamlessly as one landscape element, blurring the boundary between architecture and nature," according to the official project description. Hadid took cues from traditional Korean art, incorporating elements such as reflecting pools, lotus ponds, and bamboo groves into the undulating green oasis that sprawls beside the architect's distinctively curvy, futuristic building.

? Shigeru Ban was commissioned to design a 5,000-square-foot hangout pavilion within St. Louis's Forest Park that's meant to look like it "hovers like a floating cloud aloft tree-like columns." Here Ban, ever the master of working with stilts, uses bamboo lumber to create the shape of the waterproof cover.

? Last year, Diller Scofidio + Renfro rolled out a grassy elevated park that's romantically described as a "floating hyperbolic paraboloid lawn" in the project description. It perches atop Lincoln, an upscale restaurant that opened to much fanfare in September '10 and met with only mediocre reviews.

? The 120-foot tall Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago's Millennium Park was designed by Frank Gehry and boasts the architect's signature stainless steel curves and trellises. Completed in 2004, the pavilion includes a 95,000-square-foot lawn, 4,000 dedicated seats, and another 7,000 lawn seats. A Gehry cultural site smack in the middle of a major city—we can think of at least one guy who wouldn't be into it.

? Set on a sloping site in Barcelona, Park Güell was designed by architect Antoni Gaudí and completed in 1914. Originally commissioned as an housing development, the complex, which the Barcelona City Council turned into a public park in 1923, features a grand double staircase leading up to a public square, as well as all the obvious Gaudí elements: murals, twisty stone columns and forms, and, of course, a huge tiled salamander sculpture.

· DONGDAEMUN DESIGN PARK & PLAZA [Zaha Hadid Architects]
· Forest Park Pavilion [Shigeru Ban Architects]
· A Look at Shigeru Ban's Minimalist Shelters for Earthquake Victims [Curbed National]
· Lincoln Center's Rooftop Lawn Ready to Roll Next Month [Curbed NY]
· Lincoln Center [Diller Scofidio + Renfro]
· Because the Fat Lady Has to Eat [NYT]
· Philanthropist Offers $300M Prize For Not Hiring Frank Gehry [Curbed National]
· Park Guell by Antoni Gaudi [Tourist Guide Barcelona]