October 16, 2009
  Bing Thom on Building Urbanism with a Light Touch

Bing Thom, AIA, can rightfully say he’s in the business of building cities—but not in the imperial, strong handed, single-authorship mode of Robert Moses or Corbusier. His Vancouver-based firm Bing Thom Architects specializes in regenerative urbanism that works on many scales, from individual cultural, institutional, and commercial buildings to urban master plans that reroute rivers and create new neighborhoods. This work proves that such ambition and optimism need not be accompanied by contextual disregard and formal pomposity.


Bing Thom’s design for the renovated Arena Stage Theater.

Just before his National Building Museum Spotlight on Design lecture on Sept. 15, Thom sat down with AIArchitect Associate Editor Zach Mortice and spoke of his native Vancouver’s success as a vibrant and sustainable city, the paradoxes of designing urban fabric from scratch in the developing world, and his latest American project, the renovation of the Arena Stage Theater in Washington, DC. At the Arena Theater, Thom designed a micro-urban plan of three distinct and discrete theater venues bonded together by a sensually curving roof and curtain wall, creating a mini arts village in a transitory and underprivileged neighborhood that is itself meant to be activated and enlivened by the renovated theaters. As always in Thom’s work, concentric layers of urbanism radiate outward, speaking of the good that the contemporary city has to offer.

Watch a video of Thom here.

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