Photo: Wikimedia Commons
It has been a phenomenal year in the world of architecture, with architects and engineers pushing the boundaries of innovation and design.Click here to go straight to the buildings >
Moscow’s Mercury Tower recently usurped the title of the tallest building in Europe from London’s Shard and New York City’s Freedom Tower is on its way to becoming the tallest building in America. In Singapore, the Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay are becoming a model green space for cities all over the world, while Miami’s Marlins Park is re-imagining the role of a sports stadium.
We have examined buildings—from towers to arenas to airports and more—from all over the world that have undergone construction in the past year and have come up with a list of the coolest new buildings this year. We took into account innovation, creativity, structure, sustainability and buzz and we asked architects, engineers, designers, critics, and academics to weigh in.
Our choices include a building with a dynamic facade that opens and closes in response to the movement of the sun, a pair of curvaceous towers that have been nicknamed “Marilyn Monroe,” the world’s largest greenhouse conservatory, and the world’s very first commercial spaceport. We’ve also included the most talked-about and controversial additions to city skylines—from London’s Shard to Brooklyn’s Barclays centre.
Unsurprisingly, sustainability showed up in nearly every design, with architects finding creative ways to weave environmentally-friendly measures into the designs, from a building that collects and filters rainwater to plenty of solar-paneling.
They’re listed here in alphabetical order.
Location: Mississauga, Canada
Located in a suburb near Toronto, the Absolute Towers are nicknamed 'Marilyn Monroe' for their sexy, curvaceous figures. The residential towers were named the best tall buildings in America by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH).
'The Absolute World towers develop a simple, yet seductive strategy to bring figuration to a tower, what is conventionally the result of mass production.' --Nader Tehrani, Professor and Head of the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Location: Kuwait City, Kuwait
Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
At 412-meters (1,352-feet) high, Al Hamra Tower is the tallest building in Kuwait, offering great views of the Arabian Gulf from the top. The building is used for retail and office spaces.
Location: Brooklyn, New York, USA
Architect: AECOM (Ellerbe Becket) and SHoP Architects
Opened in September 2012, the Barclays centre is New York City's newest sports and events arena, located in downtown Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Nets and the New York Islanders will call the arena home.
Opinionated New Yorkers had mixed reactions to the rusted-looking building, with people arguing that the arena will change the dynamic of Brooklyn. Though the building has gotten mixed reviews from architecture critics--with the New York Times' Michael Kimmelman calling it a 'hunkered-down, hunchbacked, brooding sight'--the curvaceous building is undoubtedly a new landmark in New York City. Still, opinionated New Yorkers
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Architect: Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects (TWBTA)
In May 2012, The Barnes Foundation opened a new 93,000-square-foot building in Philadelphia to house the foundation's vast art collection. Located on 4.5 acres in suburban Philadelphia, the building has 12,000-square-feet of exhibition space that takes advantage of natural light.
'Incredibly elegant architecture of the highest degree and on every aspect of this difficult and controversial assignment.'--Michael Morris, Morris Sato Studio LLP
'The Barnes Foundation take on a very complex program of curatorial oversight, and houses a sophisticated collection within a very well detailed and crafted building.'--Nader Tehrani, Professor and Head of the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Location: Bodrum, Turkey
Architect: Tabanlioglu Architects
The Bodrum International Airport is comprised of strong steel lines, glass walls and a flat concrete rooftop. The design is meant to be a reference to the traditional buildings of Bodrum.
The new airport terminal, which was completed in July 2012, won the award for the best Transportation building in the World Architecture Festival.
Architect: Wilkinson Eyre, Grant Associates, Atelier One and Atelier 10
Located in Marina Bay, the Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay consist of two conservatories that span over 20,000 square meters (215,278 square ft.), making the complex the largest climate-controlled glasshouses in the world. Inside, there are hundreds of flowers and trees. The construction won the World Building of the Year award from the World Architecture Festival (WAF).
'For me, the Gardens by the Bay will always stand out as above and beyond any other scheme of it's kind. Despite their close proximity to Marina Bay Sands, the Cooled Conservatories still stand out for their architectural excellence and boundary-pushing design.' --Sian Disson, News Editor, World Architecture News
Location: Oslo, Norway
The new headquarters of Norwegian bank DnB NOR will be in a pixelated 17-story building on Oslo's Bjørvika waterfront that's designed to look like a rock, according to architect MVRDV. 'The niches of this rock provide space for vegetation growth: the positioning of the pixels creates roof gardens or outside areas for every floor,' MDRDV wrote on their website.
The building is slated to open in March 2013, but construction is nearly complete on the main centre building.
Location: New York City, New York, USA
Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
For almost a decade, America--and the world--has been watching the progress of the Freedom Tower, which stands on the site of the former World Trade centre towers. The 2.6-million-square-foot building, which is currently under construction, will include office space, an observation deck, world-class restaurants, and more. It will rise to a symbolic height of 1,776 feet, making it the tallest building in the Americas once it's completed.
'The tower is an open, welcoming building that both radiates light and is filled with light. Our design team has achieved our goal of creating a great urban place -- a building that serves the people who work in it, welcomes those who visit it, and plays an integral and vibrant role in the city that surrounds it.'--David Childs, Freedom Tower architect, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Location: Baku, Azerbaijan
Architect: Zaha Hadid
Completed in May 2012, the Heydar Aliyev Cultural centre houses a library, museum, and several auditoriums and conference halls. The glass facade means that the building gets tons of natural light. After the centre opened in May, it caught fire in July but fortunately there was no major damage and repairs were able to be made.
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Architect: K2S Architects
In central Helsinki, the 3,789 square-foot Kamppi Chapel offers a quiet place of contemplation amidst its urban surroundings. The chapel's walls and all the furniture are made of solid wood. Despite the immense size of the building, the only actual chapel is located in the wooden bowl. The glass walls of the rest of the building serve as exhibition space.
Location: Miami, Florida, USA
The 37,000-seat stadium is the new home of the Miami Marlins. Games are played in rain or shine thanks to the retractable roof. It only takes 13 minutes to fully open or close, and is the first in the world to earn LEED Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Architect Populous strove to design a stadium where 'beauty and baseball collide,' according to their website.
Location: Sydney, Australia
1 Bligh is all about sustainability. The building uses recycled rain water to irrigate the plants and flowers spread throughout the free form-shaped building. It is also the first high-rise office tower in Australia to feature a double-skin glass façade, which protects the computer-controlled sun shades and allows an abundance of natural light into the building. The building was named the best tall building in Asia & Australasia by CTBUH.
'The dramatic, naturally-ventilated central atrium connects the office workers with nature at the inner depths of the plan, giving a sense of openness for the entire building,' architect Werner Sobek said in a statement from CTBUH.
Location: Milan, Italy
Architect: Pei Cobb Freed & Partners
Milan's Palazzo Lombardia is an innovative and sustainable government building that offers a variety of open spaces and passageways, including a central piazza that's meant to evoke the city's famed Galleria. Architecture firm Pei Cobb Freed & Partners designed the building with three important features in mind: flexible and accessible government office space, public outdoor places that enhance the community, and a green and sustainable building design and operation.
The 40-story government building was named the best tall building in Europe by CTBUH.
'More than simply a tower, the project creates a cohesive blend of parks and commercial space, with an appropriately local flair,' executive director of CTBUGH Antony Wood said in a statement.
Location: Beijing, China
Architect: BIAD UFo
The Phoenix International Media centre has a multipurpose, comprehensive, and open design which includes office space for broadcasting, television, and other media industries. The doughnut-like design is reminiscent of another notable building in Beijing: Herzog and De Meuron's 'Bird's Nest' Olympic Stadium.
The building was also designed sustainably; it will collect and filter rainwater and reduce energy consumption by filtering air naturally, according to ArchDaily.
Location: Amman, Jordan
Architect: Foster + Partners
Foster + Partners designed the Queen Alia International Airport to provide an 'enhanced gateway to the region,' according to their website. The futuristic-looking airport has the capacity to handle nine million travellers a year.
'Sleek shading canopies transition to an enclosure, it seems to oscillate between indoor and outdoor spaces. It also departs from traditional airport designs with their giant shell roofs--this one seems to be a bit more intimate.'--Kate Rufe, University of Pennsylvania School of Design
Location: Melbourne, Australia
The Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne was redesigned to be more child-friendly, with many indoor and outdoor interactive play areas. The integration of the hospital with the surrounding park enables views of the gardens in every direction. The architects also designed the interiors of the hospital, the inpatient units, and clinical planning.
Location: London, England
Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop
The London Bridge Tower, affectionately known as 'The Shard' for the eight glass shards that define the shape and appearance of the tower according to the Renzo Piano website, opened in July 2012. The 1,016-foot-tall building houses offices, restaurants, the Shangri-La hotel, and residential apartments.
The tower created a lot of buzz and controversy when it opened, garnering negative reactions from Londoners and critics who claimed that the building did not fit in to the city skyline. One critic even dubbed it 'Voldemort's new digs.'
Location: Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA
Architect: Foster + Partners
Spaceport America represents a new frontier in space tourism as 'the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport.' It is already home to the world's first commercial passenger spaceline company, Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, which has announced that it plans to launch its pioneer space flight from here.
The terminal and hangar facility, designed by British architectural firm Foster + Partners, is sleek and modern, yet it blends seamlessly into the arid New Mexico landscape. It's also high-tech and environmentally-friendly. You can take a tour of the spaceport here.
'It represents our future aspirations and dreams.'--Michael Morris, Morris Sato Studio LLP
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Architect: Nikken Sekkei
Soaring at 634 meters (2,080 ft.), The Tokyo Sky Tree serves up astounding views and blends in with the urban culture of the city of Tokyo. Functionally, the building also operates as a broadcasting tower. The Tokyo Sky Tree is designed in its own original colour, 'Sky Tree White.'
Location: Dubai, UAE
23 Marina is a new luxury residential building in Dubai. The 90-story, 380-meter- (1,247-ft.-) tall concrete building is currently the tallest residential building in the world, outsizing its neighbouring building, The Torch.
Location: Kista, Stockholm, Sweden
Architect: Wingårdh Arkitektkontor AB
Located in Stockholm's Kista district, the Victoria Tower is a striking angular T-shaped structure that has a glistening glass facade. 20-two of the tower's floors are occupied by the Hotel Scandic, while the rest of the building is devoted to office and conference space.
'The Victoria Tower, offers a minimalist strategy to alter one's perception on the tower, both in terms of scale and massing.'--Nader Tehrani, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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