I often get asked about which buildings and Architecture firms get me excited. There's a lot of great developments, and firms that are doing really interesting work. Here's my top 5 (in no particular order):
1. Studio Gang Architects: Aqua Tower. This brand new, 82-story tower in downtown Chicago is just amazing. And especially since they postponed (cancelled) Santiago Calatravaâ€™s Spire, this is without question the most important new tower to rise in Chicago. The alternating concrete balconies create a staggeringly beautiful faÃ§ade and the cantilevered balcony strategy lets them shape the tower while not creating awkward or silly interior spaces simply for the sake of creating a non-rectilinear skyscraper (check out Lord Norman Fosterâ€™s Central Market Towerâ€™s in Abu Dhabi to see what Iâ€™m talking about). I also really love how the firm website uses short films and music to help communicate the projects. http://www.studiogang.net/
2. SNOHETTA: National 9/11 Museums and Memorial Pavilion. Given the size and cost of the projects at Ground Zero, the majority of the attention has been focused on either SOMâ€™s 1 World Trade (formally know as the â€˜Freedom Towerâ€™) and Santiago Calatravaâ€™s soaring Transportation Hub. But one of the smallest projects on site, one that most people really donâ€™t know is being built, is actually one of the most compelling. The Oslo based office of SNOHETTA has designed a project thatâ€™s being called â€˜The Pavilion.â€™ But in reality itâ€™s the front door of the 50,000-square-foot underground 9/11 Museum. The cladding will be the thing to admire, combining brushed metal paneling and glass panels (covered in a super complicated â€œfritâ€ pattern) that enables the faÃ§ade to fluidly morph from steel to glass. Itâ€™s one of the most thoughtfully considered â€˜cornersâ€™ of a buildings that Iâ€™ve ever seen. www.snoarc.no
3. Preston Scott Cohen: Nanjing Performing Arts Center and Tel Aviv Museum of Art (TAMA). First off I should, in the spirit of full disclosure, tell you that Scott was both my critic and my thesis advisor in architecture school. And itâ€™s because of that, in part, that itâ€™s so amazing to watch all the theoretical ideas he talked about five or six years ago now become fully realized, powerful works of architecture. His work is somewhat under the radar but if you look at the bizarre and almost unsettling formal results youâ€™ll see how he works. Itâ€™s a highly rigorous geometrical process that yields some stunning and visually arresting shapes. Check out the atrium/light well inside his museum in Tel Avivâ€”it gives Frank Lloyd Wrightâ€™s Guggenheim a run for its money.
4. SHoP: Barclays Center (the new Netâ€™s Stadium at the Atlantic Yards): For those New Yorkers (but really Iâ€™m speaking to my fellow Brooklynites) the Atlantic Yards project has been a long, drawn out, controversial, and frankly somewhat annoying urban design debacle. What started as something like 14 shimmering Frank Gehry designed towers and a super expensive new home for New Jersey Nets has now become something far less controversial--but also something more interesting. After the Gerhy team was somewhat unceremoniously dismissed from the project, developer Bruce Ratner turned to the NYC-based architecture firm of SHoP. SHoP is a relatively young firm that first gained notoriety with Porterhouse Condominiums in the Meatpacking District a few years back (which is a very slick building and a super clever way to tackle he issue off adding onto a exiting, older building). Their new design for the basketball arena (now called the Barclays Center) is really stunning. The faÃ§ade has their trademark patterning that creates one look by day and a radically different one by night. The project is under construction as we speak and itâ€™ll be a while before anyone actually plays basketball there, but compared the misplaced, generic, crap box of a shopping mall across the street (yes, Iâ€™m talking to you, Atlantic Center), this project is a huge step forward for Brooklyn. http://www.shoparc.com/#/projects/featured
5. nARCHITECTS: Double Ex House: Both my design office and the architecture courses I teach are deeply invested in making substantial contemporary buildings that relate to and/or actively engage their local vernacularâ€”creating a modern vernacular. With the Double Ex House, nARCHITECTS, one of my favorite young NYC firms, has created a prefabricated home that, by offering different faÃ§ade options can transform to become a modern, sustainable, vernacular home, that functions in multiple different locations (a feat not very easily achieved). Itâ€™s a clever house thatâ€™s playful and odd and awkward and beautiful all at once. http://www.narchitects.com/frameset-hometta.htm