Best New Buildings Of This Year

It has been a phenomenal year in the world of architecture, with architects and  engineers pushing the boundaries of innovation and design.

Absolute World Towers

Location: Mississauga, Canada

Architect: MAD

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

Absolute Towers, Canada


Al Bahar Towers

Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE

Architect: Aedas  Architects Ltd.

The Al Bahar Towers were named  the most innovative tall building in the world by the Council on Tall Buildings  and Urban Habitat (CTBUH). The 29-story office building has a dynamic facade  which opens and closes in response to the movement of the sun. The façade design  also works with the local culture, evoking a wooden lattice screen traditionally  found in Islamic architecture.

“The dynamic façade on Al Bahar, computer-controlled to respond to optimal  solar and light conditions, has never been achieved on this scale before,” architect  Chris Wilkinson said in a CTBUH statement. “In addition, the expression of  this outer skin seems to firmly root the building in its cultural context.”

Al Bahar Office Towers

Barclays Center

Location: Brooklyn, New York, USA

Architect: AECOM  (Ellerbe Becket) and SHoP Architects

Opened in September 2012, the Barclays Center 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

Barclays Center



The Barnes Foundation

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

The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia

Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center

Location: Baku, Azerbaijan

Architect: Zaha  Hadid

Completed in May 2012, the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center houses a library,  museum, and several auditoriums and conference halls. The glass facade means  that the building gets tons of natural light. After the center opened in May, it  caught fire in July but fortunately there was no major damage and repairs were  able to be made.

Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center, Azerbaijan

Kamppi Chapel of Silence

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.

Kamppi Chapel


Palazzo Lombardia

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.

Palazzo Lombardia, Milan


The London Bridge Tower (“The Shard”)

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.”

London The Shard

Victoria Tower

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. Twenty-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 TechnologyVictoria Tower, architecture



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