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: 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.”
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
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: 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.
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: 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: 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: 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 Technology