Rethinking the elevator. Skypod by PLP Architecture

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David Leventhal, Karen Cook, Ron Bakker. PLP Architects

PLP Architects is a London-based studio of architects, designers, and researchers, co-founded by David Leventhal, Karen Cook, and Ron Bakker. Led by an experienced and dedicated group of partners who have worked together for more than three decades, the practice has produced some of the world’s greenest, most intelligent, and ground-breaking designs through a profound commitment to social, economic, and environmental values. They draw from a rich history and experience working together across a diverse portfolio of more than 500 projects around the world.

They value innovation and creativity and strive to test conventional limits, producing intelligent, ground-breaking, and exciting designs. They work across typologies and beyond the traditional boundaries of architecture, interiors, and master planning services, providing branding and positioning research, engagement strategies, and graphic, interior, product,d, and furniture design.

The foundation of their work lies in a commitment to a high quality of urban life, excellence in the handling of material, space, and light, and optimism about architecture’s potential to enrich our society.

Research also plays an important part in their work, and they consistently strive to push boundaries and redefine limits. PLP Labs serves as their in-house think tank to explore topics as varied as cultural engagement, brief writing and storytelling, and district-wide activation strategies.

David Leventhal was partner-in-charge of design at KPF’s London office, prior to leaving to found PLP Architecture,  which he co-founded in 1989. David worked with KPF for a total of 30 years. A key theme in David’s work is the place of contemporary architecture in historical cities. This interest stems from his undergraduate studies in architectural history at Harvard, during which time he studied the challenges faced by late nineteenth-century American designers in finding novel yet relevant architectural expression.

In line with this interest, David, while at KPF, was the partner-in-charge of the design of a series of academic buildings set in the heart of the great English universities, including projects at Oxford University, the London School of Economics, and Imperial College. As with many of the other schemes, the building for the Rothermere American Institute (RAI) at Oxford won many awards which cited the lively dialogue the building establishes with its neighbors.

Again while at KPF, David was partner-in-charge of the design of the new Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) headquarters, a landmark that has become a symbol to the world of this fast-developing city. He received both his Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Architecture degree from Harvard University.

Karen Cook is one of five founding partners of PLP Architecture. Previously Karen was a partner at KPF, whose London office she joined at its founding in 1990 and eventually led, along with her other PLP partners, until founding PLP Architecture. Her experience extends throughout Europe and has been driven by her interest in cultures and languages. Key elements of her work focus on environmentally sustainable design that is aligned with her philosophy of integrating design and technology in making better places to work and live.

Karen, while at KPF, was the designer of several important office structures. These include The Pinnacle, now under construction and emerging as the City of London’s tallest building, and, in Paris, Tour First (CB31), the tallest office building in France, whose dynamic new top transforms the skyline of La Defense. Her award-winning Danube House in Prague is the first sustainable office building in the Czech Republic. Its dramatic interiors form part of the setting of the James Bond action film “Casino Royale.” Karen’s designs have been exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and the Pompidou Center, Paris.

Clients for whom Karen has designed innovative workplaces and public spaces include Hines, Europolis, Union Investment Real Estate, Arab Investments, AXA Reims, Cogedim, ICADE, Ferinel, Beacon Capital, Land Securities, NS Vastgoed, James Andrews, Canary Wharf, and The New West End Company. She lectures at symposia and participates in student juries across Europe. Karen received a Bachelor of Architecture and a Bachelor of Art (Art and Architecture) from Rice University, Houston, Texas, and a Master in Architecture from Harvard University.

Ron Bakker is a Partner at PLP Architecture, which he co-founded with Lee Polisano, David Leventhal, and Karen Cook. Ron brings his European sensibilities to projects in the UK, Europe, and the Middle East, and takes an Anglo-American enthusiasm back to projects in The Netherlands, his native land.

His recent projects include The Edge, the world's most sustainable office building developed by OVG Real Estate for Deloitte in Amsterdam; the refurbishment of a 1960s building in Westminster on behalf of Derwent London providing additional bespoke spaces for Burberry; a new high-end office development in Mayfair for Grosvenor, which is integrated with the infrastructure of a new Crossrail station serving the high-speed east-west link across London; a residential-led regeneration scheme for a large brownfield site in Berkshire for Legal & General; a mixed-use project in Kuwait City, and a residential project in Kolkata, India.

Ron has a particular interest in the architectural techniques that influence the qualities of gathering places in our cities and buildings; and excitement about the role of new technologies in the built environment. He speaks regularly at universities in Europe and abroad and at various forums on real estate, urban development, and digital technology in architecture, including at TEDx.

Ron studied under the tutorship of Aldo van Eyck, Herman Hertzberger, Niels Prak, and Joop van Stigt at the Delft University of Technology. He is a registered architect with the Stichting Bureau Architectenregister in the Netherlands; the American Institute of Architects’ New York Chapter in the USA and the Architects Registration Board ARB in the UK.




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