From Santiago Calatrava’s Oculus to the Louvre Abu Dhabi by Jean Nouvel, the best modern architecture projects go above and beyond their vertical height in redefining the ever-changing world of architecture.
The design of office buildings, museums, airports, train stations, and homes cannot always be innovative. However, much of architecture consists of those simple structures necessary for cities to grow and humanity to advance.
Culture progresses in fits and starts and never advances. Furthermore, to observe a revolutionary work of architecture is to journey to the near future. These are the 10 best modern architecture projects.
432 Park Avenue (2015) by Rafael Viñoly – New York
Rafael Viñoly’s 432 Park Avenue is the tallest completed residential building in the Western Hemisphere, located in the heart of midtown Manhattan.
Proponents of the design will say that there is a certain elegance to the all-white, uniform shape, while skeptics argue it lacks character. The design expresses the structural solution to an enormous engineering challenge while also reflecting the other defining urban feature of New York, the city’s grid.
Apple Park (2017) by Foster + Partners – Cupertino, California
Apple Park will always be remembered as the final vision of the firm’s inimitable founder, Steve Jobs. Created by Foster + Partners, the 175-acre campus resulted from a dream that Jobs had in 2004 while walking through London’s Hyde Park.
Steve Jobs had decided to house his company in a new environment where the barrier between building and nature seamlessly disappeared.
Elbphilharmonie Hamburg (2017) by Herzog & de Meuron – Hamburg
Herzog & de Meuron’s design for the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg is physical evidence that adaptive reuse can be done to stunning, head-turning effect.
Completed in 2017, the bottom half of the building has a history that dates back further than that. The foundation of Herzog & de Meuron’s design is a brick building that was a former warehouse built in 1963.
Foundation Louis Vuitton (2014) by Frank Gehry – Paris
Completed in 2014, the vessel-shaped glass structure sits among the trees and lawns of Paris’s Bois de Boulogne. The building is filled with LVMH’s impressive art collection.
For his inspiration, Gehry looked back to several great designs of the 19th century. The building plays between solid and glassworks to perfection within the verdant atmosphere of the Bois de Boulogne.
Louvre Abu Dhabi (2017) by Jean Nouvel – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Completed in 2017, the estimated $650 million building located in Abu Dhabi is a milestone for a city that, as of the 1950s, did not have paved roads, electricity, or running water.
The 258,333square-foot structure, which Jean Nouvel designed, features a stainless-steel and aluminum dome that’s been cut and layered to stunning effect.
National Museum of Qatar (2019) by Jean Nouvel – Doha, Qatar
The 361,861 square-foot structure contains the many artifacts, stories, and images that encompass the creation of modern-day Qatar. What separates the National Museum of Qatar from any other museum is its revolutionary architecture.
What made Nouvel’s task of designing this museum so tricky is what was being asked of him – to create a building that, by shape and formation, would become the very embodiment of Qatari identity. His answer came in the form of the desert rose, a naturally occurring phenomenon in the region.
Shanghai Tower (2015) by Gensler – Shanghai
Designed by Gensler and completed in 2015, the 2,073 foot-tall Shanghai Tower has a seemingly endless list of records. The tallest building in China, second tallest in the world, world’s tallest observation deck, and the world’s second-fastest elevator system.
The tower’s asymmetrical form, tapering profile, and rounded corners allow the building to withstand the typhoon-force winds common in Shanghai.
The Broad (2015) by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler – Los Angeles
The architects at Diller Scofidio + Renfro are modern-day magicians. The structure itself holds a nearly 2,000-piece collection of contemporary art, making it like any other museum in the world. However, that is where the similarities abruptly end. The 50,000 square-foot building acts as a seamless buffer between the inside and the outside world.
The veil’s walls are also engineered so that no direct sunlight will ever penetrate the space despite the movement of the sun. The cellular structure all around acts like a sponge absorbing and transmitting light as needed.
The Oculus (2016) by Santiago Calatrava – New York
Santiago Calatrava has built a reputation for creating dynamic modern architecture. The structure is built of steel, concrete, stone, and glass. It takes the shape of a bird, specifically a phoenix, in mid-flight.
The symbolism of a phoenix rising from the ashes is immediate, as the building is located mere feet from the September 11th Memorial and Museum in downtown Manhattan.
The Shed (2019) by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and David Rockwell – New York
The Shed, which opened in 2019, starts as a static 200,000-square-foot cultural space. Nevertheless, the modern architecture building consists of an outer shell that sits on a set of wheels connected to a short track.
Once activated by way of a 121-horsepower engine, the shell moves away from the mainframe of the building, in effect creating an entirely new building that is part of the original one.
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