From Santiago Calatrava‘s Oculus to the Louvre Abu Dhabi by Jean Nouvel, these structures go above and beyond their vertical height in redefining the ever-changing world of architecture. These 10 contemporary buildings redefined architecture in the past 5 years, and Design Limited Edition is here to show you why.
Foundation Louis Vuitton (2014) by Frank Gehry (Paris)
Frank Gehry, completed the phenomenal Fondation Louis Vuitton in 2014. The vessel-shaped glass structure sits among the trees and lawns of Paris’s Bois de Boulogne. The contemporary building is filled with LVMH’s impressive art collection, with works ranging from Kusama and Abramovi´c to Matisse and Giacometti spread throughout the 126,000-square-foot, two-and-a-half-story space.
Shanghai Tower (2015) by Gensler (Shanghai)
Designed by Gensler and completed in 2015, the 2,073 foot-tall Shanghai Tower (pictured in the centre) has a seemingly endless list of records: tallest building in China, second tallest in the world, world’s tallest observation deck, and the world’s second-fastest elevator system. Yet, shockingly, that list almost pales in comparison with the fact that the firm’s design of the contemporary building—an asymmetrical form with rounded corners—saved some $58 million in material cost versus a traditional angular build of the same size.
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, and as such, demands one’s attention in a way that no residential building ever has. Located in the heart of midtown Manhattan, the 1,396 foot-tall skyscraper can be seen from all five boroughs. Its silhouette dominates New York’s skyline from every angle, in cars, trains, and aeroplanes alike.
The Broad (2015) by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler (Los Angeles)
The Broad is a contemporary building completed in 2015 by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler and holds a nearly 2,000-piece collection of contemporary art, making it, in theory, like any other museum in the world. Yet, that’s where the similarities abruptly end. The 50,000-square-foot building acts as a seamless buffer between the inside and the outside world. This honeycomb-like design also enhances the artwork housed within the structure, making the striking exterior multifunctional in its aesthetics.
The Oculus (2016) by Santiago Calatrava (New York)
Santiago Calatrava has built a reputation for creating structures so dynamic, they appear poised to take flight at any moment. And the architect’s design of the Oculus is no exception. While 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 contemporary building is located mere feet from the September 11th Memorial and Museum in downtown Manhattan.
Elbphilharmonie Hamburg (2017) by Herzog & de Meuron (Hamburg)
In its most basic form, Herzog & de Meuron‘s design for the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg is physical evidence that adaptive reuse can be done to stunning, head-turning effect. Glass completely covers the upper portion of the contemporary building, making it appear more like an avant-garde ship than a space for musical performances.
Apple Park (2017) by Foster + Partners (Cupertino, California)
Created by the firm Foster + Partners, the 175-acre campus was the culmination of a dream that Jobs had in 2004 while walking through London’s Hyde Park. To fulfil that dream, Jobs turned to Pritzker Prize-winning architect Norman Foster. For a company as cutting-edge as Apple, solar-energy almost seems archaic. That’s why between each floor is a canopy that slightly sticks out, its main purpose being to protect employees from the intense California sun. Tucked within each canopy is a ventilation system that funnels air in and out of the contemporary building. Jobs (who was not a fan of air conditioning) wanted his employees to feel any passing breeze as if they were sitting outside.
Louvre Abu Dhabi (2017) by Jean Nouvel (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
If the past decade can be viewed as a modern Arab Renaissance for the oil-rich nation of United Arab Emirates, then the Louvre Abu Dhabi is most certainly the centrepiece of this movement. Completed in 2017, the contemporary building located in Abu Dhabi is, if nothing else, a milestone for a city that, as of the 1950s, didn’t have paved roads, electricity, or running water.
National Museum of Qatar (2019) by Jean Nouvel (Doha, Qatar)
The 361,861-square-foot structure contains the many artefacts, stories, and images—from the discovery of oil to life by the Persian Gulf—that encompass the creation of modern-day Qatar. What separates the National Museum of Qatar from any other museum, of course, is its revolutionary architecture. What made Nouvel‘s task of designing this contemporary building so difficult 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 that consists of a layered crystallization of minerals occurring in salty sand.
The Shed (2019) by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and David Rockwell (New York)
The Shed, which opened in the spring of 2019, starts as a static 200,000-square-foot cultural space. Yet, the structure consists of an outer shell (made of lightweight, luminescent ETFE panels) that sits on a set of wheels connected to a short track. Once activated, the shell moves away from the mainframe of the contemporary building, in effect creating an entirely new building that is part of the original one.
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