Slideshow feature: Yongsan
International Business District


Skyscrapers in Seoul: this week we've run a series of stories on the Yongsan International Business District, a new commercial hub in Seoul, South Korea, that's due for completion in 2024. Commissioned by South Korean developer DreamHub, the new district has been masterplanned by architect Daniel Libeskind and will include skyscrapers by a host of international architects including Renzo Piano, BIG, MVRDV, REX, Dominique Perrault and Libeskind. Here’s a slideshow to bring them all together.

The list of new buildings includes:

See the projects we've featured so far »
See all our stories about skyscrapers »

  • luke

    what a horrible composition of desperate forms. what we call in the business a cluster-f***

  • qhsj

    sculpture garden urbanism with mall infill. Hopefully we are not in the "final stage of urbanism" as I read recently…

  • Jane

    The individual buildings are awful. Put together, the whole composition manages to be disgusting. The only thing that could be worse is if Daniel Libeskind had designed the individual buildings as well as the master plan.

  • nari

    you guys are really out of mind………………………..

  • Harvey Stills

    When Libeskind is involved, you know you're in for a visual mess. Add in MVRDV and BIG and the result is just grotesque.

  • Ahhh! I quote all the previous comments. This is the 2010's version of the Beaugrenelle in Paris, only way less impressive or innovative.

  • Shona

    I see all of these "starchitects" were able to lower themselves to the shallow standards of Libeskind's abysmal master plan. Sad. Very sad.

  • kim jin-sung

    It’s a shame!!! I was born in Yongsan… I hate all of these…

  • HGW

    Libeskind's masterplan is to blame. Based on the failed "towers in the park" concept, the scheme was predisposed to become a theme park for starchitects to display their ego-driven "penis extensions". At street level it will be awful, lacking any coherent sense of place. That's what to expect when an idiot is in charge of the over-riding plan.

  • Chris

    Oh well… rather them than us. I think I'd rather look at 70's council blocks all day than this vulgar conglomeration of catastrophic 'Architecture'.

  • H-J

    So that's what the City of the Captive Globe looks like in Seoul…

  • Kray

    Libeskind’s amateurish Master Plan was like a cartoon from a futuristic comic book, It confirmed how little this guy knows about design. With an intellectual non-event leading the process, it is no surprise that the result is as bad as if Libeskind had designed all of the buildings himself.

  • PostHaste

    We've seen Libeskind's horrendous architecture. We've read his phony stories about his inspirations. We're already aware of his out-of-control ego. So how was such an obnoxious person and such a bad designer ever allowed to be a master planner for a whole district?

  • J. Pawley

    This is not urban design. This is the inharmonious collision of clashing forms and egos. It is a grotesque parody of urban design. (What else can you expect when Libeskind is the master planner ….) It's time for architects to start studying the City Beautiful Movement again. It will be a grim, impersonal future if we continue down this dead end.

  • I do think, in a different context, a few of these buildings might work. I like the Rex and Murphy/Jahn buildings. Also, I've seen enough of BIG's work to recognize that their super-simplified diagrammatic approach actually belies a much deeper sophistication in scheme, experience and execution…so I'm curious to see how their building plays out.

    But that said, this masterplan is an unmitigated disaster. It manages to capture and amplify all of the very worst elements of the Corbusian automobile-centric tower-in-the-park. When I see all of these manneristic works clustered together like this, I can't help but imagine the buildings as a tacky collection of garishly painted muscle cars, each with their own garage in a bloated McMansion.

  • H.T.K.

    Libeskind has no formal training in town planning. Instead of analyzing the issues, he thinks its enough to draw some weired shapes on a map and call it a Master Plan. If the Koreans chose to hire an amateur poseur, then they deserve the urban mess that will inevitably result when Libeskind is involved.

  • Sprockets

    Libeskind is decades behind the curve on urban planning issues. In fact he doesn't seem to understand even the most basic concepts about it. What he produced here is a theme park for starchitects, each getting their own site to display their mis-matched wares while ignoring any common vision that is necessary to create a meaningful sense of place. But then Libeskind is all about discord and ugliness so the resulting visual mess comes as no surprise.

  • L.DePuis

    It's interesting that you can visit a small town in the south of Spain or Italy where beautiful towns emerged over the centuries with no almost input from architects. Here you have a collection of the so-called best architects of our time, all coming together at the same time (when things could be coordinated perfectly) and what do you get? You get the ugliest, brashest, dumbest, culture-killing abomination conceivable by man. It's just afwul.

  • Quiche Lorraine

    A Master Plan is intended to establish technical, functional and easthetic standards geared towards creating a unified sense of place that can generate a focus with cultural meaning. All Libeskind did was divide the area up into a series of individual plots which individual developers then approached as a free-for-all. The resulting chaos is hideous. I don’t know how Libeskind gets away with calling himself a “master planner”. He is a destroyer of cities.

  • Romar G

    The tall conical building has some elegance and presence. The work of MVRDV, REX, Libeskind and BIG are positively gross. Visual harmony or aesthetic control must not have been intended by the master plan which lies at the root of this gross failure of design.

  • K.H.Y.

    Dear Mr. Libeskind.

    Have you ever seen the wonderful little town of Pienza where renaissance architect Bernardo Rossellino and the humanist Leon Battista Alberti created a little master plan for the town’s principal square? As a charming and cohesive set piece, it is quite wonderful. And have you ever bothered to familiarize yourself with the aesthetic concept known as ‘harmony’? It is one of the most important goals of master planning. And did you ever even bother to look at complimentary groups of buildings such as those found at the Alhambra, at any medieval monastery, or more recently at Rockefeller Center? Of course you didn’t. You already know it all don’t you! And look where your ‘knowledge’ and your smug sense of superiority has got you! What will the future of Yongsan be like thanks to your lack of talent. Are you happy with yourself?

    Kang Ha-Young

  • Duomo

    This is horrible. What's the point of having a master planner if the end result looks like there were no guidelines and no control? If the developers bought individual sites and just done whatever they felt like, the results could not be worse than they are with this ridiculous "master plan".

  • April

    If DreamHub had hired a bunch of low-bid, no-name design firms plucked at random from the yellow pages of the phone book, the result would not be worse than this confused and disorganized mess.

  • It is terrifying that there is no consideration and understanding about the context, the culture and people. It seems like a collage of different objects. I am so disappointed it is happening in Seoul. No hope and no balance and harmony. I think it is shame that Seoul is loosing a sense of indignity and humanity. when I visit Seoul next time, there are full of strange buildings. shame.


  • Boz

    It's a bit mad… but I have to confess to liking it (sorry haters).

  • Royce

    A lost opportunity on a huge scale. The phrase “masterplanned by architect Daniel Libeskind” is all that is needed to explain why this is so bad.

  • e

    용산 참 좋아지겠다

  • S. Durst

    It’s the epitome of vulgarity. Mindless posturing and display of ego on a grand scale. No surprise that Libeskind was involved. He’s the absolute worst.

  • Jaded

    REX's scheme is bombasic. BIG's design is a gimmick. MVRDV's "Cloud" is gross. Libeskind (as always) is downright stupid. You can only conclude that these people don't know or don't care about what they are doing for another culture. An opportunity to create a striking new urban center has been sacrificed to ego and pretentiousness.

  • Alexi Z

    All students should be shown this as an example of how NOT to design cities. The lack of aesthetic control is shocking. I suppose that was to be expected with Daniel Libeskind leading the process.

  • Real Architect

    It’s worse than City Center in Las Vegas. This is what happens when a bunch of starchitects are given free rein to do whatever they please. it makes a mockery of design to suggest that there is any overarching master planning here. Libeskind doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He never did.

  • Wow, that is a visual mess. Architecture with no understanding of its context is doomed to fail. Do you think any of these architects actually talked to each other? And if they did, do you think they talked about their projects? wow, and these are supposed to be ‘starchitects’…

  • Doom

    It's like each architect tried to be more stupid, more clumsy than the next. Just awful.

  • Jordin Panzram

    The bullcrap… the bullcrap is strong in Yongsan district.

  • noah gotlib

    I think that Renzo Piano’s building is awful, except for the spherical observation platform. The MVRDV tower looks sort of like the exploding Twin Towers, and SOM’s tower is a shameless ripoff of the Foster + Partners designs for the WTC and, later, Toronto’s Oxford Place.

    Though I actually like the “architectural clusterf*ck” thing they must have been going for when viewed from a far (I honestly think they should do something like this in the Toronto Portlands), it’s obvious they gave no though to walkability or visual appeal at ground level. From the air it is a forest of elegant towers, but at ground level it simply looks like a shopping mall.

  • Samuelschmidt

    Finally! After almost 100 years Le Corbusier’s plan Voisin is realised. Well, at least its basic principles: destroying everything historical, its identity to build something else. At least Le Corbusier lived in the city he wanted to “improve”.

  • JanB

    Funny thing is that Coop Himmelb(l)au hates their own tower. Mr Prix ordered his communication department to not publish anything about the building since it’s too embarrassing. Too bad he can’t erase it from the district renderings :)